Translated in English by Nehal Anwar Qasmi, Najran
Sheikh Muhammad Mustafa was born in Mau, Uttar Pradesh, India around 1930A.D (1350A.H). He graduated from a well-known Islamic seminary of the Indian subcontinent Darul Uloom Deoband in 1952A.D (1372A.H). Afterwards, he moved to Egypt and got the “Certificate of Alimiyat with permission to teach" from Al- Azhar University in 1955A.D. The same year, he went to Qatar where he taught Arabic to non-Arab students and later became a librarian in the National Public Library there. As he had deep interest in the science of Hadeeth serving in the library helped him to work on various manuscripts of Hadeeth.
In 1964A.D, Sheikh joined Cambridge University, UK for PhD under the guidance of A.J. Arberry and Prof. R.B. Serjeant. His topic was "Studies in the Early Hadeeth Literature". After completing doctorate he returned to Qatar and served as the director of the National Public Library for two years there.
In 1968, Sheikh was appointed as Associate Professor at Ummul-Qura University, Makkah. In 1973 he joined King Saud University as Professor of Hadeeth sciences. He remained there until his retirement in 1991. From 1968 upto his retirement, Sheikh oversaw many research works on different subjects of Hadeeth which were carried out by the students of both Ummul-Qura and King Saud Universities. He also served as member of various educational and research institutions across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Other honorary posts:
Beside being Associate Professor at Ummul-Qura University and Professor of Hadeeth sciences at King Saud University, Sheikh has also held other honorary posts in Saudi Arabia and abroad as follows:
1. Chairman of the Dep. of Islamic Studies, College of Education King Saud University.
2. Visiting Scholar at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan (1981-82).
3. Visiting Fellow of St. Cross College, Oxford, England (1987).
4. Visiting Scholar at the University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA (1989-91).
5. King Faisal Visiting Professor of Islamic Studies at Princeton University, New Jersey (1992).
6. Member of Committee for Promotion, University of Malaysia.
7. Honorary Professor, Dept. of Islamic Studies, University of Wales, England.
In 1980, Sheikh received the prestigious King Faisal Award for his following works on Hadeeth:
1. Diraasaat fil-Hadeeth Nabawi wa Tarikh-e-Tadweenihi (دراسات في الحديث النبوي وتاريخ تدوينه): Arabic translation of his doctoral thesis. In this book Sheikh has answered all the questions generally raised by the Orientalists to challenge the traditions of the Prophet (PBUH).
2. Saheeh ibn-e-Khuzaymah (صحيح ابن خزيمة): This book has been compiled by Ibn-e- Khuzaymah (RA). It consists of the authentic Ahadeeth which were included by the authors of both Saheeh Al Bukhari and Muslim. Sheikh edited this book and got it published in four volumes.
3. Computerization of the text of Ahadeeth: One of the Sheikh’s important achievements is that he is the first who computerized the Arabic texts of the books of Ahadeeth.
Scholars of the Indian subcontinent have the privilege to contribute to the science of Hadeeth in all possible ways. That includes teaching Ahadeeth, writing commentaries and books to defend their authenticity and transforming them into computerized books.
By editing books of Ahadeeth and answering the objections of the Orientalists regarding the compilation of the Holy Qur’an and Hadeeth, Dr Muhammad Mustafa Azmi has served Islam at such a high level that even non-Muslim scholars of the world acknowledge his deep knowledge and insight into the science of Hadeeth.
Although Sheikh Azmi has lived in Saudi Arabia with his family for decades, yet he has not forgotten his mother land. He still keeps visiting India as his health permits and contributes in all the possible ways for the betterment of the people of his area. Sheikh has a daughter named Fatima Mustafa Azmi. She has completed M.Com and PhD from America and now she is an Associate Professor at Sheikh Zaid University. He also has two sons Aqeel Mustafa Azmi and Anas Mustafa Azmi. The elder one Dr. Aqeel has completed Master's degree in Engineering and PhD from America and now he is an Associate Professor at King Saud University while the youngest son Dr. Anas holds a Ph.D from the UK and works in the King Faisal Specialist Hospital.
Brief introduction of Sheikh’s academic services:
1. Studies in early Hadeeth literature: It is the doctoral thesis of Sheikh Muhammad Mustafa in English language and is included in the syllabus of various universities in the eastern and western countries. The first edition of this book was published in Beirut in 1968 and the second and third in America in 1978 and 1988 and still continues to be published. It was translated into Turkish and Indonesian languages in 1993 and 1994 respectively.
2. دراسات في الحديث النبوي وتاريخ تدوينه : It is the Arabic translation of his thesis and consists of 712 pages. Both books deal with the history of compilation of Hadeeth and assert that the process of compilation of Hadeeth began in the life of the Prophet PBUH not in the second or third century of Hijri as many people allege.
3. منهج النقد عند المحدثين نشأته وتاريخه : As name suggests in this book Sheikh deals with the methodology of Scholars to measure Hadeeth’s authenticity and non-authenticity. It proves that the criteria which scholars of Hadeeth set to authenticate the collection of Ahadeeth is of such a high level that has no example even in the present world to validate any thing. This book is in Arabic language and is included in the syllabus of Islamic University, Al-Medina Al-Munawwarah. Its first, second and third editions were published respectively in 1975, 1982 and 1983 in Riyadh and is still being published by different publishing houses.
4. Studies in Hadeeth methodology and literature: This book deals with the method and literature of Hadeeth that helps comprehend the Ahadeeth properly. It also replies to all the questions of Orientalists regarding authenticity of Ahadeeth. Sheikh has divided the book into two volumes. First volume discusses the methodology whereas, the second one concentrates on Ahadeeth from literary perspective. This book also is a part of syllabus in many universities and has gone into several editions.
5. The history of the Qur’anic text from revelation to compilation: This book is one of the significant works of Sheikh Muhammad Mustafa in which he describes the history of compilation of the Qur’an and highlights its authenticity over other divine books after making detailed comparison between their methods of compilation. He also gives elaborate account of the way Hazrat Zaid bin Thabit (RA) adopted to give final shape to the Holy Qur’an. Unfortunately this book has not yet been translated into Arabic or Urdu due to declining health of Sheikh. But during my meeting on 8th February, 2013 he expressed his desire that somebody should come ahead to translate it.
6. On Schacht’s Origins of Muhammadan Jurisprudence: This book presents detailed analysis and critique of the book of the noted Orientalist Joseph Schacht and gives convincing answers to all the questions raised by the author regarding the Islamic Jurisprudence. This book also is a part of syllabus in various universities and has been translated into Turkish, Arabic and Urdu languages.
7. كتاب النبي : Historians in general count 40 to 45 companions of the Prophet (PBUH) who were assigned to write on behalf of the Prophet, but Sheik Azmi has recorded with historical evidences in this book over 60 companions who used to write for the Prophet. The first edition of this book was published in Damascus in 1974, in Beirut and Riyadh in 1978 and 1981. Now it has been translated into English and published.
8. المحدثون من اليمامة إلى 250 هجري تقريبا : There are many books available about the scholars of Hadeeth from different cities of the world. But it is the only book dedicated to highlight the scholarly services of the scholars from the city of Yamamah.
9. موطا إمام مالك : It is one of the most reliable books of Hadeeth which was written by Imam Malik (RA). Sheikh edited it and published it in 8 volumes. He has also worked on the Ruwat (narrators of Hadeeth) .
10. صحيح ابن خزيمة : As mentioned above, it is one of the important books of Hadeeth by Ibn-e-Khuzaima which comprises the most authentic Ahadeeth after Saheeh Al-Bukhari and Muslim. This book has vanished for a long period, even some people believed that it no longer exists in the world. It was Sheikh Muhammad Mustafa who first discovered the book and worked on it. Now it is available in 4 volumes. The first edition was published in Beirut in 1970, second and third in Riyadh and Beirut in 1982 and 1993 and still continues to be published.
11. العلل لعلي بن عبد الله المديني : A book on the Rijaal of Hadeeth has been edited by Sheikh Muhammad Mustafa.
12. سنن ابن ماجة : A book of Hadeeth which was edited and computerized first by Sheikh Muhammad Mustafa. The idea of computerizing the books of Hadeeth came to Sheikh’s mind when he was doing his PhD in Cambridge University. And he even worked on some of them there.
13. مغازي رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم لعروة بن زبير برواية أبي الأسود : Hazrat Urwah bin Zubair the renowned Tabi’ee was the first to write a book on the Prophet’s biography named Maghazi Rasoolullah. This book was published in Riyadh in 1981 after Sheikh’s critical review and analysis of the book. Maghazi Rasoolullah is also an obvious proof that the scholars of Islam started writing Prophet’s biography just after his death. Idarah Thaqafat Islamiah, Pakistan published Urdu translation of that book in 1987.
14. Manuscript of Saheeh Al-Bukhari : Sheikh Muhammad Mustafa has the honor of editing the manuscript of Saheeh Al-Bukhari with additional footnote by various scholars which was prepared in 725A.H and discovered from Istanbul in 1977A.D.
In short, Sheikh Muhammad Mustafa’s services toward Hadeeth are very profound. They surround almost every aspect of the science of Hadeeth. The most important of them is his work on Hadeeth literature and methodology, critical analysis of Schacht’s Origin of Muhammadan Jurisprudence, history of the Qura’nic text from revelation to compilation, scholarly reviews and editing of various collections of Ahadeeth that would have otherwise remained unknown to the world and computerization of Hadeeth texts. Most of his books are available online for free download. May Allah grant us success in benefitting from his works and enhance our knowledge of Hadeeth Science, Amen!