Shah Waliullah Dehlawi

Indian muslim scholar

Shah Waliullah Dehlawi (born 21 February 1703 Moza Phalat, Delhi, died 20 August 1762 Delhi) was an Islamic scholar, muhaddith reformer, historiographer, bibliographer, theologian, and philosopher.


  • Strict orders should be issued in all Islamic towns forbidding religious ceremonies publicly practiced by Hindus such as the performance of Holi and ritual bathing in the Ganges. On the tenth of Muharram, the Shias should not be allowed to go beyond the bounds of moderation, neither should they be rude nor repeat stupid things in the streets or bazars.
    • Quoted in S. A. A. Rizvi, "Shah Waliullah and His Times", p. 227, Ma’rifat Publishing House, Canberra, (1980).
  • It is the general authority to undertake the establishment of religion through the revival of religious sciences, the establishment of the pillars of Islam, the organization of jihad and its related functions of maintenance of armies, financing the soldiers, and allocation of their rightful portions from the spoils of war, administration of justice, enforcement of [the limits ordained by Allah, including the punishment for crimes (hudud)], elimination of injustice, and enjoining good and forbidding evil, to be exercised on behalf of the Prophet… It is no mercy to them to stop at intellectually establishing the truth of Religion to them. Rather, true mercy towards them is to compel them so that Faith finds a way to their minds despite themselves. It is like a bitter medicine administered to a sick man. Moreover, there can be no compulsion without eliminating those who are a source of great harm or aggression, or liquidating their force, and capturing their riches, so as to render them incapable of posing any challenge to Religion. Thus their followers and progeny are able to enter the faith with free and conscious submission... Jihad made it possible for the early followers of Islam from the Muhajirun and the Ansar to be instrumental in the entry of the Quraysh and the people around them into the fold of Islam. Subsequently, God destined that Mesopotamia and Syria be conquered at their hands. Later on it was through the Muslims of these areas that God made the empires of the Persians and Romans to be subdued. And again, it was through the Muslims of these newly conquered realms that God actualized the conquests of India, Turkey and Sudan. In this way, the benefits of jihad multiply incessantly, and it becomes, in that respect, similar to creating an endowment, building inns and other kinds of recurring charities.… Jihad is an exercise replete with tremendous benefits for the Muslim community, and it is the instrument of jihad alone that can bring about their victory.… The supremacy of his Religion over all other religions cannot be realized without jihad and the necessary preparation for it, including the procurement of its instruments. Therefore, if the Prophet’s followers abandon jihad and pursue the tails of cows [that is, become farmers] they will soon be overcome by disgrace, and the people of other religions will overpower them.
    • Quoted in Bonney, Jihad from Qur’an to bin Laden, 101-3 Quoted from Spencer, Robert (2018). The history of Jihad: From Muhammad to ISIS.
  • Professor S.A.A. Rizvi gives some graphic details of this dream described by Shah Waliullah himself in his Fuyûd al-Harmayn which he wrote soon after his return to Indian in 1732: “In the same vision he saw that the king of the kafirs had seized Muslim towns, plundered their wealth and enslaved their children. Earlier the king had introduced infidelity amongst the faithful and banished Islamic practices. Such a situation infuriated Allah and made Him angry with His creatures. The Shah then witnessed the expression of His fury in the mala’ala (a realm where objects and events are shaped before appearing on earth) which in turn gave rise to Shah’s own wrath. Then the Shah found himself amongst a gathering of racial groups such as Turks, Uzbeks and Arabs, some riding camels, others horses. They seemed to him very like pilgrims in the Arafat. The Shah’s temper exasperated the pilgrims who began to question him about the nature of the divine command. This was the point, he answered, from which all worldly organizations would begin to disintegrate and revert to anarchy. When asked how long such a situation would last, Shah Wali-Allah’s reply was until Allah’s anger had subsided… Shah Wali-Allah and the pilgrims then travelled from town to town slaughtering the infidels. Ultimately they reached Ajmer, slaughtered the nonbelievers there, liberated the town and imprisoned the infidel king. Then the Shah saw the infidel king with the Muslim army, led by its king, who then ordered that the infidel monarch be killed. The bloody slaughter prompted the Shah to say that divine mercy was on the side of the Muslims.”
    • S.A.A. Rizvi, Shah Wali-Allah and His Times, Canberra. 1980, p.218. Quoted from Goel, Sita Ram (1995). Muslim separatism: Causes and consequences. ISBN 9788185990262
  • Its highest degree of eloquence, which is beyond the capacity of a human being. However, since we come after the first Arabs we are unable to reach its essence. But the measure which we know is that the employment of lucid words and sweet constructions gracefully and without affectation that we find in the Tremendous Qur’an is to be found nowhere else in any of the poetry of the earlier or later peoples.
    • in Waliyyullāh, S. (2014) Al-Fawz al-Kabīr fī Uṣūl at-Tafsīr. The Great Victory on Qur’ānic Hermeneutics: A Manual of the Principles and Subtleties of Qur’anic Tafsīr. Translated, Introduction and Annotated by Tahir Mahmood Kiani. London: Taha, p.160.
  • But Rizvi has summarized them in the following words from Waliullah’s magnum opus in Arabic, Hujjat-Allah al-Baligha: “According to Shah Wali-Allah the mark of the perfect implementation of the Sharia was the performance of jihad. There were people, said the Shah, who indulged in their lower nature by following their ancestral religion, ignoring the advice and commands of the Prophet Mohammed. If one chose to explain Islam to people like this it was to do them a disservice. Force, said the Shah, was the better course - Islam should be forced down their throats like bitter medicine to a child. This, however, was possible only if the leaders of the non-Muslim communities who failed to accept Islam were killed, the strength of the community was reduced, their property confiscated and a situation was created which led to their followers and descendants willingly accepting Islam. Another means of ensuring conversions was to prevent other religious communities from worshipping their own gods. Moreover, unfavourable discriminating laws should be imposed on non-Muslims in matters of rule of retaliation, compensation for manslaughter, and marriage and political matters. However, the proselytization programme of Shah Wali-Allah only included the leaders of the Hindu community. The low class of the infidels, according to him, were to be left alone to work in the fields and for paying jiziya. They like beasts of burden and agricultural livestock were to be kept in abject misery and despair.”
    • S.A.A. Rizvi, Shah Wali-Allah and His Times, Canberra. 1980, p.285-6 Quoted from Goel, Sita Ram (1995). Muslim separatism: Causes and consequences. ISBN 9788185990262
  • Waliullah had travelled all the way to Mecca and Medina - a difficult and dangerous undertaking in his days - and studied under half a dozen Sufis and savants of ‘Islamic sciences’, only to ‘discover’ and declare what the meanest mullah in the most obscure village mosque in India had been mouthing for more than a thousand years. He himself wrote as many as 43 books between 1732 and 1762 - thirty thoughtful years - only to re-echo the routine ravings of a thousand theologians who had continued to thunder ever since the advent of Islam in this country! He wrote hundreds of letters to his contemporary Muslim monarchs and mercenaries, including Ahmad Shah Abdali, whom he considered to be the saviours of Islam in India, only to convey the conventional Islamic message which all of them had crammed in their cradles - convert of kill the kãfirs, humiliate the Hindus, and establish an Islamic state in keeping with the ‘holy’ commandments of the Quran!
  • Muslim ‘community’ in India had remained sharply divided into two mutually exclusive segments throughout the centuries of Islamic invasions and rule over large parts of the country. On the one hand, there were the descendants of conquerors who came from outside or who identified themselves completely with the conquerors - the Arabs, the Turks, the Iranians, and the Afghans. They glorified themselves as the Ashrãf (high-born, noble) or Ahli-i-Daulat (ruling race) and Ahl-i-Sa‘adat (custodians of religion). On the other hand, there were converts from among the helpless Hindus who were looked down upon by the Ashrãf and described as the Ajlãf (low-born, ignoble) and Arzãl (mean, despicable) depending upon the Hindu castes from which the converts came. The converts were treated as Ahl-i-Murãd (servile people) who were expected to obey the Ahl-i-Daulat and Ahl-i-Sa‘adat abjectly. Shah Waliullah (1703-62) and his son Abdul Aziz (1746-1822) were the first to notice this situation and felt frightened that the comparatively small class of the Ashrãf was most likely to be drowned in the surrounding sea of Hindu Kafirs. ... They had to turn to the neo-Muslims. The neo-Muslims, however, had little interest in waging wars for Islam. They had, therefore, to be fully Islamized, that is, alienated completely from their ancestral society and culture. That is why the Tabligh movement was started.

From his lettersEdit

  • The presence of the kings of Islam is a great blessing from Allah… You should know that the country of Hindustan is a large land. In olden days, the kings of Islam had struggled hard and for long in order to conquer this foreign country. They could do it only in several turns…
    Every (Muslim) king got mosques erected in his territory, and created madrasas. Muslims of Arabia and Ajam (non-Arab Muslim lands) migrated from their own lands and arrived in these territories. They became agents for the publicity and spread of Islam here. Uptil now their descendants are firm in the ways of Islam…Among the non-Muslim communities, one is that of the Marhatah (Maratha). They have a chief. For some time past, this community has been raising its head, and has become influential all over Hindustan…
    …It is easy to defeat the Marhatah community, provided the ghãzîs of Islam gird up their loins and show courage…
    In the countryside between Delhi and Agra, the Jat community used to till the land. In the reign of Shahjahan, this community had been ordered not to ride on horses, or keep muskets with them, or build fortresses for themselves. The kings that came later became careless, and this community has used the opportunity for building many forts, and collecting muskets…
    In the reign of Muhammad Shah, the impudence of this community crossed all limits. And Surajmal, the cousin of Churaman, became its leader. He took to rebellion. Therefore, the city of Bayana which was an ancient seat of Islam, and where the Ulama and the Sufis had lived for seven hundred years, has been occupied by force and terror, and Muslims have been turned out of it with humiliation and hurt…
    …Whatever influence and prestige is left with the kingship at present, is wielded by the Hindus. For no one except them is there in the ranks of managers and officials. Their houses are full of wealth of all varieties. Muslims live in a state of utter poverty and deprivation. The story is long and cannot be summarised. What I mean to say is that the country of Hindustan has passed under the power of non-Muslims. In this age, except your majesty, there is no other king who is powerful and great, who can defeat the enemies, and who is farsighted and experienced in war. It is your majesty’s bounden duty (farz-i-ain) to invade Hindustan, to destroy the power of the Marhatahs, and to free the down-and-out Muslims from the clutches of non-Muslims. Allah forbid, if the power of the infidels remains in its present position, Muslims will renounce Islam and not even a brief period will pass before Muslims become such a community as will no more know how to distinguish between Islam and non-Islam. This will be a great tragedy. Due to the grace of Allah, no one except your majesty has the capacity for preventing this tragedy from taking place.
    We who are the servants of Allah and who recognise the Prophet as our saviour, appeal to you in the name of Allah that you should turn your holy attention to this direction and face the enemies, so that a great merit is added to the roll of your deeds in the house of Allah, and your name is included in the list of mujãhidîn fi Sabîlallah (warriors in the service of Allah). May you acquire plunder beyond measure, and may the Muslims be freed from the stranglehold of the infidels. I seek refuge in Allah when I say that you should not act like Nadir Shah who oppressed and suppressed the Muslims, and went away leaving the Marhatahs and the Jats whole and prosperous.
    The enemies have become more powerful after Nadir Shah, the army of Islam has disintegrated, and the empire of Delhi has become childrens’ play. Allah forbid, if the infidels continue as at present, and Muslims get (further) weakened, the very name of Islam will get wiped out.
    …When your fearsome army reaches a place where Muslims and non-Muslims live together, your administrators must take particular care. They must be instructed that those weak Muslims who live in the countryside should be taken to towns and cities. Next, some such administrators should be appointed in towns and cities as would see to it that the properties of Muslims are not plundered, and the honour of no Muslim is compromised.
    • Letter to Ahmad Shah Abdali, Ruler of Afghanistan. Translated from the Urdu version of K.A. Nizami, Shãh Walîullah Dehlvî ke Siyãsî Maktûbãt, Second Edition, Delhi, 1969, p.83 ff.
  • Your solemn letter has reached (me)…
    At the ‘hidden level’ (occult word), the downfall of the Marhatahs and the Jats has been decided. Now, therefore, it is only a matter of time. As soon as the servants of Allah gird up their loins and come out with courage, the magic fortress of falsehood will be shattered…
    • To Najibuddaulah, the Ruhela Ally of Abdali in India. Translated from the Urdu version of K.A. Nizami, Shãh Walîullah Dehlvî ke Siyãsî Maktûbãt, Second Edition, Delhi, 1969, p. 103.
  • …There are three groups in Hindustan which are known for the qualities of fanaticism and zeal. So long as these three are not exterminated, no king can feel secure, nor any noble. The people (read Muslims) also will not be able to live in peace.
    Religious as well as worldly interests dictate that soon after winning the war with the Marhatahs, you should turn towards the forts of the Jats, and conquer them with the blessings from the hidden (occult) world. Next is the turn of the Sikhs. This group should also be defeated, while waiting for grace from Allah.
    …I appeal to you in the name of Allah and his Prophet that you should not cast your eye on the property of any Muslim. If you take care in this regard, there is hope that the doors of victory will be opened to you one after another. But if this caution is ignored, I fear that the wails of the oppressed may become obstacles in the way towards your goal.
    • To Najibuddaulah Translated from the Urdu version of K.A. Nizami, Shãh Walîullah Dehlvî ke Siyãsî Maktûbãt, Second Edition, Delhi, 1969, pp.104-05.
  • These words are being written in reply to the verbal message sent by you. I have been asked (by you) to tell (you) about suppression of the rebellion of Jats in the environs of Delhi.
    The fact is that this recluse (meaning himself) has witnessed in the occult world the downfall of the Jats in the same way as that of the Marhatahs. I have also seen it in a dream that Muslims have taken possession of the forts and the country of the Jats, and that Muslims have become masters of those forts and that country as in the past. Most probably, the Ruhelas will occupy those Jat forts. This has been determined and decided in the most secret world. This recluse has not the shadow of a doubt about that. But the way that victory will be achieved is not yet clear. What is needed is prayers from those special servants of Allah who have been chosen for this purpose.
    …But keep one thing in your mind, namely, that the Hindus who are apparently in your’s and your government’s employ, are inclined towards the enemies in their hearts. They do not want that the enemies be exterminated. They will try a thousand tricks in this matter, and endeavour in every way to show to your honour that the path of peace is more profitable.
    Make up your mind not to listen to this group (the Hindu employees). If you disregard their advice, you will reach the height of fulfilment. This recluse knows of this (fulfilment) as if he is seeing it with his own eyes.
    • To Najibuddaulah Translated from the Urdu version of K.A. Nizami, Shãh Walîullah Dehlvî ke Siyãsî Maktûbãt, Second Edition, Delhi, 1969, pp. 106-07.
  • …I have received your weighty letter…
    According to whatever this recluse (meaning himself) has learnt (from the occult world), Ahmad Shah Abdali will come again for putting down the enemies. When this sacred promise is fulfilled, he will most probably stay here, and dedicate his life to the last to (the welfare of) this land. In spite of the crimes that abound and the evils that have multiplied, the work is proceeding according to plan. The reason for this most probably is that Allah wants to destroy the power of his enemies.
    • To Shykh Muhammad Ashiq Translated from the Urdu version of K.A. Nizami, Shãh Walîullah Dehlvî ke Siyãsî Maktûbãt, Second Edition, Delhi, 1969, pp. 116-17.
  • …your letter has arrived…Safdar Jang had reached such a state (of damnation) that his foot got afflicted with cancer. The more they removed the (affected) flesh from his foot, the worse it became. At last, they were forced to amputate his foot. Finally, he passed away in this piteous condition. It means that Allah’s wrath against the Marhatahs and the Jats has now become manifest, and the defeat and destruction of these people has been decided at the occult level.
    • To Shah Muhammad Ashiq Pahalti Translated from the Urdu version of K.A. Nizami, Shãh Walîullah Dehlvî ke Siyãsî Maktûbãt, Second Edition, Delhi, 1969, pp. 125-26.
  • Your honoured letter regarding suppression of the Jats has arrived. Allah is merciful, and it is hoped that he will crush the enemy. You should rest assured… You should forge unity with Musa Khan and other Muslim groups, and put to use this friendship and unity for facing the enemies. I hope for sure that on account of this unity among Muslims and their nobility, victory will be achieved.
    The reason for the rise of enemies and the fall of Muslims is nothing except that, led by their lower nature, Muslims have shared their (Muslims’) concerns with Hindus. It is obvious that Hindus will not tolerate the suppression of non-Muslims. Being farsighted and practising patience are praiseworthy things, but not to the extent that non-Muslims take possession of Muslim cities, and go on occupying one (such) city every day… This is no time for farsightedness and patience. This is the time for putting trust in Allah, for manifesting the might of the sword, and for arousing the Muslim sense of honour. If you will do that, it is possible that winds of favour will start blowing. Whatever this recluse knows is this that war with the Jats is a magic spell which appears fearful at first but which, if you depend fully on the power of Allah and draw His attention towards this (war), will turn out to be no more than a mere show. Let me hope that you will keep me informed of developments and the faring of your arms…
    • To Taj Muhammad Khan Baluch Translated from the Urdu version of K.A. Nizami, Shãh Walîullah Dehlvî ke Siyãsî Maktûbãt, Second Edition, Delhi, 1969, pp. 150-51.
  • We beseech you in the name of the Prophet to fight a jihad against the infidels of this region. This would entitle you to great rewards before God the Most High and your name would be included in the list of those who fought for jihad for His sake. As far as worldly gains are concerned, incalculable booty would fall into the hands of the Islamic gazis [warriors] and the Muslims would be liberated from their bonds.”
    • Quoted in Bonney, Jihad from Qur’an to bin Laden, 104 Quoted from Spencer, Robert (2018). The history of Jihad: From Muhammad to ISIS.
  • After Aurangzeb’s death when Muslim power started to disintegrate, the Sufi scholar Shah Waliullah (1703-1763) wrote to the Afghan King Ahmad Shah Abdali, inviting him to invade India to help the Muslims. The letter said: “…In short the Moslem community is in a pitiable condition. All control of the machinery of the government is in the hands of the Hindus because they are the only people who are capable and industrious. Wealth and prosperity are concentrated in their hands, while the share of Moslems is nothing but poverty and misery… At this time you are the only king who is powerful, farsighted and capable of defeating the enemy forces. Certainly it is incumbent upon you to march to India, destroy Maratha domination and rescue weak and old Moslems from the clutches of non-Moslems. If, Allah forbid, domination by infidels continues, Moslems will forget Islam and within a short time, become such a nation that there will be nothing left to distinguish them from non-Moslems.”
    • Shah Waliullah ke Siyasi Maktubat, ed. by Khaliq Ahmad Nizami reproduced in English in Khalid Bin Sayeed’s Pakistan: The Formative Phase, Pakistan Publishing House, Karachi, p. 2. Quoted from Lal, K. S. (1992). The legacy of Muslim rule in India. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan. Chapter 8

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