A'la Hadrat Maulana Shah Abdul Wahab (October 9, 1831 – 1921) (Tamil:அஃலா ஹள்ரத் மவ்லானா ஷாஹ் அப்துல் வஹ்ஹாப்), born Shah Abdul Wahab, also known as (A'la Hadrat, A'la Hazrat, Ala Hadrat, Ala Hazrat) (Tamil:அஃலா ஹள்ரத்,அஃலா ஹஜ்ரத்), was a renowned Sunni Islamic Scholar and Reformer of the late 19th and early 20th Century from the Southern part of India. Like Shah Waliullah Muhaddith Dehlvi he was worried about the state of Muslims of South India, especially those of Nagore and its nearby regions. He worked hard to purify their beliefs. So he founded the Madrasa Al-Baqiyat As-Salihat in Vellore in the year 1884.
A'la Hadrat Maulana Shah Abdul Wahab was born on 1st of the Islamic month of Jumādā al-Ūlā of Hijri 1247 (19th October 1831) in Vellore. His dad, Maulana Abdul Qadir Sahib, died when he was 4 years old in Madurai, India. So he moved into his mother's household in Vellore. So his early education was done in Vellore.
In Vellore, after having finished his pre-school education with his mother and uncle, A'la Hadrat Maulana Shah Abdul Wahab did his primary schooling with Hakeem Jainul Abideen, a famous Teacher and Medical practitioner, who lived in the same street where A'la Hadrat Maulana Shah Abdul Wahab lived. He completed his Primary education in Arabic and Parsi languages with him.
In order to complete the necessary education of the time, A'la Hadrat Maulana Shah Abdul Wahab left for Chennai. There he stayed with Maulana Ghular Qadir Madarasi who schooled him for 7 more years with all the necessary arts.
Having finished his schooling, A'la Hadrat Maulana Shah Abdul Wahab returned to Vellore. He married and started his family life. He wanted to learn more. So, on the 15th of the Islamic month of Shaʿbān of Hijri 1284, he left for Hijaz while his 3 year old son and family stayed back in India.
In the Holy City of Mecca, his thirst found its fountain in these Islamic luminaries, Maulana Rahmatullah Keeranvi, Maulana Haji Imdhadhullah Muhaajir Makki and Maulana Syed Muhammad Hussein Peshawari.
According to Historians, A'la Hadrat Maulana Shah Abdul Wahab is believed to have learned some Islamic Books and Munazara from Maulana Rahmatullah Keeranvi.
A'la Hadrat Maulana Shah Abdul Wahab completed his higher studies in Hadith and Usool ul Hadith (Principles of Hadith) from Maulana Syed Muhammad Hussein Peshawari.
A strange coincidence noteworthy to be mentioned here is that Muhammad Qasim Nanotvi, the founder of the Madrasa Darul Uloom Deoband in North India and A'la Hadrat Maulana Shah Abdul Wahab, the founder of the Madrasa Al-Baqiyat As-Salihat in South India shared a common lineage in their Islamic Studies.
The teachers of A'la Hadrat Maulana Shah Abdul Wahab were, Maulana Rahmatullah Keeranvi, Maulana Syed Muhammad Hussein Peshawari and Maulana Shah Abdul Latheef. And the scholar who taught these three was Maulana Shah Muhammad Is-haaq.
Maulana Shah Muhammad Is-haaq's teacher was Maulana Shah Abdul Aziz and whose teacher was none other than Shah Waliullah Muhaddith Dehlvi. And thus this common lineage of A'la Hadrat Maulana Shah Abdul Wahab and Muhammad Qasim Nanotvi in Islamic Higher Studies goes as far as Shah Waliullah Muhaddith Dehlvi.
Further in their spiritual studies and journey, A'la Hadrat Maulana Shah Abdul Wahab and Muhammad Qasim Nanotvi are even more closely related. Both their spiritual teacher was none other than Maulana Haji Imdhadhullah Muhaajir Makki.
Though these two scholars, A'la Hadrat Maulana Shah Abdul Wahab and Muhammad Qasim Nanotvi, shared a common lineage in the Islamic Studies and Spiritual path, there is no definite proof that these two Islamic Reformers of the Indian Sub-Continent ever met.
After completing his studies, A'la Hadrat Maulana Shah Abdul Wahab was offered the post of Deputy Collector when he was visiting Hyderabad. But he turned down the offer. Returning from Hyderabad, the first thing he did was to make himself financially stable. He sold of his ancestorial land in Athur and bought one in Vellore. This provided him with an earning. After he attended to his personal financial state, he commenced his Islamic Social Services.He visited Villages and towns and called Muslims to live their lives according to Shariah and stressed the need for it.When it came to Bid'ah, he vehemently opposed it and voiced against it publicly. In this course, he stayed in Thittachery for a long period and educated the Muslims about Islam and Bid'ah that had crept into their beliefs again and again. Though the people of Thittachery vowed to stay away from Bid'ahs and Shirk, they did it only for a short period.
It is said, at this juncture, the famous Islamic Scholar from Nagore, Maulana Abdul Bari Sahib adviced him to start a Madrasa so that those scholars and reformists who graduated from the Madrasa would aid him in his Islamic Social Reform and carry on the service when he is no more and A'la Hadrat Maulana Shah Abdul Wahab seemed to have taken to this idea.
So the Islamic Madrasa Al-Baqiyat As-Salihat was found by A'la Hadrat Maulana Shah Abdul Wahab in the year 1884 with the intention of realizing his Islamic Social Reform in Tamil Nadu and elsewhere.
Also, in addition to the Madrasa Al-Baqiyat As-Salihat, A'la Hadrat Maulana Shah Abdul Wahab started the Khanqahey Baqiyat in the city of Vaniambadi. It served as a centre for Tariqa of Qadiriyya Order.
On the lines of his teacher Maulana Rahmatullah Keeranvi, A'la Hadrat Maulana Shah Abdul Wahab started a Madrasa in his house without much resources. Maulana Rahmatullah Keeranvi was founding the Madrasa Sawlatiyya in the Holy city of Mecca around that time. There is no reference to the name of this small Madrasa.
This Madrasa founded in a small house grew into the Madrasa Al-Baqiyat As-Salihat with a new Syllabus at its present location in 1884 (Hijri 1301).
The Madrasa had three objectives. The First was Islamic Education, the second was emphasise and call Muslims towards the Sunnah and the third was to create Service Minded Islamic Scholars who would be steadfast in their fight against Bid'ah or Unislamic Innovations in Islam.
Following the footsteps of his teacher Maulana Rahmatullah Keeranvi who wrote authored the famous Islamic Works, Izhar ul-Haqq, Izalathush Shukook, Izalathul Awham, A'la Hadrat Maulana Shah Abdul Wahab spearheaded the Islamic Da'wah and answering Christians in South India. It is astonishing to find that there was no other Islamic Scholar of his caliber when it came to Islamic Social Reform during the later part of 19th Century or the earlier part of the 20th Century in Tamil Nadu.
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