By: Khursheed Alam Dawood Qasmi
Mufti Muhammad Zafeeruddin Saheb Miftahi, ex-Mufti of Darul Uloom Deoband, was a sincere servant of Islamic jurisprudence, noted author and a famous orator. He was born on 7th March 1926 in his ancestral village: Pura Nadiha of Darbhanga district in Bihar, British India. This village is at the distance of almost five Kilometers from Darbhanga town situated at the bank of Kamla River. His father’s name was Munshi Shamsuddin, who served in the Indian Railways as a line inspector.
Educational Journey of Mufti Saheb:
Mufti Saheb started his educational journey from a Maktab of his village. Then he was taken to Madrasah Mahmoodiya, Rajpur, Nepal, where his cousin brother and brother-in-Law, Maulana Abdur Rahman was a head teacher — who was nominated as the fifth Amire Shariat of Imarate Shariah, Bihar & Orissa following the death of the fourth Amir, Maulana Sayyid Minnatullah Rahmani (RA) —. Mufti Saheb learned Juz Amm, Naazirah Qura’an and Urdu class in this Madrasah. He studied almost two and a half years in Madrasah Mahmoodiayah, Nepal.
In January 1932, Maulanan Abdur Rahman Saheb resigned from Madrasah Mahmoodiyah of Nepal and joined Madrasah Warithul Uloom, Karim Chuck, Chhapra in Bihar as the head-teacher. Therefore, Mufti Muhammad Zafeeruddin Saheb enrolled at Madrasah Warithul Uloom under the supervision of his cousin brother. In this Madrasah, Mufti Saheb started acquiring the education from the basic of Persian language. This Madrasah was affiliated with Madrasah Shamsul Huda of Patna. He sat for the examinations of Fauqaniah in April 1938 and wrote his examinations. At that time, the books such as Mufkhtasarul Quduri, Maqaamaat Badiuzzaman Hamdani, Mathematics, Geometry, Baang Dara etc. were part of the syllabus in Fauqaniah class.
Fauqaniah and Maulvi Exams:
Mufti Saheb passed the exams of Fauqaniah which were held in April 1938. Then again he reached Warithul Uloom to continue his studies. Now, he was appointed as the fifth teacher in Madrasah Warithul Uloom as well. Therefore, while on the one he was a student, he was a teacher on the other. In this period, he learned the book like Sharahul Wiqaayah etc. He sat in the exams of Maulavi in Madrasah Shamsul Huda, Patna in April-May 1940 as a private student as Warithul Uloom hadn’t approval for the Maulavi Class. He passed the Maulavi exams as well.
In Miftahul Uloom, Mau, UP:
Following the completion of Maulavi class from Shamsul Huda Board, it was decided that now Mufti Saheb should be sent to Miftahul Uloom of Mau, UP. So, in November, 1940 he moved to Miftahul Uloom and was admitted in the Hidaayah Class. He learned the books such as Hidayah, Noorul Anwar, Qutbi, Mir Qutbi, Maqaamaat Hariri etc. in the first year of his learning in Miftahul Uloom. Next year, in 1941, he learned the books such Jalalain, Hamasah (from Maulana Habibur Rahman Azami (1901-1982) who was a famous scholar of Hadith and was well-known as Muhaddithe Kabeer), Sullam, Mebazi, Mukhtasarul Ma’ani, Mutanabbi etc.
Leadership in Quit India Movement 1942:
In August 1942, “Quit India Movement” was launched. Almost all senior leaders of the Indian freedom struggle were arrested. The movement was under the leadership of the students. The students of Madraaris, schools and colleges participated. Mufti Saheb also became the leader and he acted violently as it was the need of the time. As a leader, he ordered the students of Ramjiwan High School to cut off the wires of the telephones of all the four lines. As a result, he had to face the arrest warrant. In this situation, he was forced by the people of the locality to resign from the post of Imamat of a Masjid in Chhatarpurah Mohalla of Mau, where he was residing along with being the student of Miftahul Uloom. Then after the struggle of 11 days, he reached home.
Mufti Saheb was recommended by Hazrat Maulana Habibur Rahman Azmi not to come to Mau as the situation was not in his favour, because of the arrest warrant from the British Government against him. So, he remained one year in Bihar. In this period, he reached Madrasah Hamidiyah, Godna, Chhapra, where his brother-in-law, Maulana Abdur Rahman was teaching. He didn’t disclose his issue to him that he had been wanted by the British government and he is under arrest warrant. He prepared here for the examinations of Alim and sat for the Alim Examinations under the Madrasah Shamsul Huda Board, Patna.
Completion of the Final Year:
Next year in 1943, the arrest warrant was annulled. Then he was suggested by Maulana Habibur Rahman Azami to reach Miftahul Uloom, Mau for the completion of the final year. He reached Mau and started learning the Final year. It was an honour for him that he learned Sahihul Bukhari and Sunan Tirmidhi from the famous scholar of Hadith, Maulana Habibur Rahman Azami. He completed the course in August 1944 from the famed seminary: Miftahul Uloom and obtained his degree in Islamic theology.
As a Teacher in Miftahul Uloom:
Next year, he had planned to move to Darul Uloom Nadwatu Ulma, Lucknow to benefit from the elders of Nadwah, but he fell sick. So, he couldn’t reach. Now, again in the month of Muharram 1364 AH, he was called by Muhaddith Azami. He followed the call and reached Miftahul Uloom. Now he served as a teacher and was given the chance to assist in issuing the Fatwaas. He remained almost one academic year in Miftahul Uloom.
In Darul Uloom Nadvatul Ulama:
In September 1945, he enrolled for studies at Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama, Lucknow. The environment didn’t favour him. He had to leave Nadwah just following almost 2 months at the end of October 1945. Then he joined Madrasah Ma’adanul Uloom in Nagram of District Lucknow as a head teacher following the advice of Maulana Muhammad Owais Nadvi, teacher of Darul Uloom Nadvatul Ulama. He remained as a head teacher in this Madrasah from November 1945 to December 1947.
Spiritual journey of Mufti Saheb started under the instructions of Allamah Sayyid Sulaiman Nadvi (1884-1953). Latter on, he took the oath of allegiance at the hand of Sheikhul Islam Maulana Sayyid Husain Ahmad Madani (1879-1957). Following the death of Sheikhul Islam, Mufti Saheb renewed it at the hand of the then Muhtamim of Darul Uloom, Deoband, Qari Muhammad Tayyib Saheb (1897-1983). He was granted Khilafah by Maulana Fazlullah, the grandson of Maulana Muhammad Ali Mungeri and by his Sheikh Qari Muhammad Tayyib Saheb in 1396 AH.
From Madrasah Mu’ieeniayah to Darul Uloom Deoband:
As the situation was not good to travel far following the freedom of India, the family members of Mufti Saheb decided for him to remain in Bihar. So, he joined Madrasah Mu’ieeniayah, Sanihah in Munger district as a head-teacher in January 1948. Then he joined Madrasah Talimudding, Dabhel, Gujarat in Muharram 1368 AH. He was assigned to teach the books such as Ibn Majah, Mishkaat, Jalalain, Hidayah etc. He remained almost 25 days in Dabhel; but the environment was not in his favour. He fell sick and had to leave Dabhel, Gujarat. Then again he reached Madrasah Mu’ieeniayha where he was before. He remained in this Madrasah about 8 years. Then he received a letter to join the famous Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband in September 1956 as the coordinator of the Department of Dawah and Tableegh. From 1956 till 2008, he worked in Darul Uloom, Deoband. He served in Darul Uloom Deoband in different capacities for 52-year. In 2008, he resigned on health ground. Owing to his towering personality, he was respected by one and all in the campus of Darul Uloom Deoband.
Compiling of Fatawaa Darul Uloom:
The famous and popular work of Mufti Miftahi is compiling of “Fatawa Darul Uloom” in 12-Volume. These “Fatawaa” were issued by Mufti Azizur Rahman Usmani (1275-1347 AH), the first grand Mufti of Darul Uloom Deoband. Mufti Saheb was ordered to start this work in 1376 AH (1956). He completed this huge work in 12 volumes in the period of 10 years. It is worth mentioning that he wrote a forward on this Fataawa in 64 pages. He discussed in the forward about the history of Islamic Jurisprudence, Fataawa, importance and history of Iftaa, qualities and descriptions of a Mufti etc. It was appreciated by the great scholars.
His Service in Reference to the Library:
It was common complaint by the academic persons to the authority of Darul Uloom Deoband about its library that it was not organized and the books were not easily found as they were jumbled. This complaint was felt by the Muhtamim of Darul Uloom Deoband. This issue reached the governing body. Then Mufti Saheb was assigned the programme to organize and arrange the library in 1382 AH. He was instructed to inspect the library of Aligarh Muslim University, the Rampur Library and the Khuda Bakhsh Library, Patna. Following the inspection of those libraries, Mufti Sahib started his programme of organizing the library. He used the classification system to organize the books. He completed this programme of the century old library brilliantly. His service in reference to the library of Darul Uloom Deoband was appreciated by one and all. After organizing the library, he wrote the introduction of the manuscripts available in the library of Darul Uloom in two volumes namely: “Ta’aruf Makhtutaat Darul Uloom Deoband”, which was published from Darul Uloom Deoband. 1n 1975, when Darul Uloom Nadvatul Ulama, Lucknow decided to hold its 85-year celebration, Mufakkire Islam Maulana Sayyid Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi (1913-1999) called him in Nadvatul Ulama for the same programme. He remained three months there in Nadvah, arranged the library and wrote the introduction of the manuscripts available in the library. Maulana Nadvi was very pleased with the way Mufti Saheb performed this job beautifully.
Writing Editorial of Monthly Darul Uloom:
Maulana Sayyid Azhar Shah Qaisar (1920-1985) was a great writer. He was the editor of the monthly: Darul Uloom, an Urdu organ of Darul Uloom Deoband. But the organ was getting published without an editorial. The governing body of Darul Uloom Deoband noticed it and appointed Mufti Saheb to write the editorial for the organ. He started writing the editorial from August 1965. He continued writing the editorial till February 1982. He used to write the editorial with the consultation of the editor, Maulana Sayyid Muhammad Azhar Shah Qaisar. His editorial was very popular. The editorial was mostly on the current affairs. Luckily, all these editorials have been compiled by Maulana Ahmad Sajjad Qasmi, a retired teacher and the elder son of Mufti Miftahi.
Mufti Saheb’s Published Works:
Mufti Saheb was a famous writer. He wrote hundreds of articles and essays on the religious, social, historical and other issues in different remarkable magazines like Sidq Jadeed Lucknow, Burhan Delhi, Darul Uloom Deoband, Al-Furqan Lucknow, Tibyan Pakistan etc. publishing from India and abroad. He authored about 35 books. Among his authored and published books fall Hayaate Gilani, Tazkirah Hazrat Maulana Abdur Rashid Ranisagri, Islam Ka Nizame Hayaat, Islami Hukumat Ke Naqsho Nigar, Uswaye Hasanah, Islami Nizame Ma’shat, Islam Ka Nizaame Iffato Ismat, Islam Ka Nizame Amn, Taarikhe Masajid, Jurm Wa Saza Qura’ano Hadith Ki Raushani Men, Jange Azadi Ka Ek Yadgar Safar, Mashaahire Ulamae Deoband, Darul Uloom Deoband, Qiyaam Aur Pas Manzar, Darul Uloom: Ek Azeem Maktabe Fikr, Mashaahire Ulamae Hind Ke Ilmi Murasle, Taarikhi Haqaaiq etc. His several books have been translated into English language and published.
He was not only a Mufti issuing Fatwas and a teacher limited in the class, but a dynamic personality and a freedom fighter who struggled for the freedom of India. He took part in the freedom struggle, while he was a student. He was a member of advisory board of Imarate Sharaiyyah, Bihar, Orissa and Jharkhand, founding member of All India Muslim Personal Law Board, founding member and latter president of Islamic Fiqh Academy, India. It should be noted here that wherever Mufti Saheb resided, he kept continuously in touch of great scholars like Muhaddith Azami, Allamah Sayyid Salaiman Nadvi, Allamah Manazir Ahsan Gilani, Maulana Minnatullah Rahmani etc. that shaped his skill on the higher level.
In brief, Mufti Miftahi was a well-known scholar, great orator, prolific writer, popular author, freedom fighter, renowned Mufti who issued Fatwaas for decades, a kind teacher and many more. Despite all these peculiarities, he was a symbol of simplicity and humility. His simplicity was seen everywhere. Mufti Saheb left for heavenly abode on 31st March, 2011, at his ancestral village: Pura Nodiha in Darbhanga district of Bihar. He was 85 years old. His funeral prayer was led by a well-known Islamic Scholar, Dr. Maulana Saud Alam Qasmi, Professor and Chairman: Department of Sunni Theology at Aligarh Muslim University. May Allah accept his services! May He shower His blessings and mercy on his grave! Aameen!