Who were Abdul Wahab Najdi and Ashraf Ali Tanvi? What is the relationship between them?
Mohammed ibn Abd al-Wahhaab Al-Naj’diy (1703 – 1792 AD) is a very well known scholar and reformer of his time. Born in the family of Banu Tameem, which was recognized for its religious and juristic knowledge in 1703 AD, Mohammed ibn Abd al-Wahhaab is known for his condemnation for inventions and additions (bid`ah) in the corpus of Islam and his call to strict adherence to the belief of Tawheed (Oneness of God). However, his contributions in the political reform of the divided clans of Al-Naj’d, although not very well known, greatly helped in uniting the people of Al-Naj’d under the leadership of a single ruler – Uthman ibn Mohammed.
Under the influence of Mohammed ibn Abd al-Wahhaab, Uthman ibn Mohammed gave special attention toward improving attendance of the Muslims in congregational prayers; the scholar also suggested Uthman to penalize and punish those Muslims, who do not attend the congregational prayers. He also suggested a number of tax reforms, which specially included the abolition of all taxes, except Zaka’h, which at the time were imposed upon the Muslim citizens.
When Abd al-Wahhaab moved to Al-Dirr`iyyah in 1745 AD, it was then that he first came in contact with the Aal Sa`ud (the rulers of Sa`udi Arabia). Later, between 1745 and 1747 AD, Mohammed ibn Sa`ud – the leader of Al-Dirr`iyyah, who later became the ruler of Sa`udi Arabia, pledged to obey Abd al-Wahhaab in all matters related to the implementation of the directives of the Qur’an and the Sunnah. This increased the influence of the scholar manifolds. Now, people from outside Naj’d also came to attend the lectures of Abd al-Wahhaab. The increasing influence of the scholar, greatly disturbed his adversaries, which also included the ruler of Al-Riyadh – Wahhaam ibn Duwaas. This resulted in a number of hostile encounters between the two areas of Al-Dirr`iyyah and Al-Riyadh, which extended over a period of about 30 years. Finally, around 1770 AD, Abd al-Aziz ibn Mohammed ibn Sa`ud conquered Al-Riyadh, which ultimately resulted in spreading the influence of the scholar throughout the Al-Naj’d. The scholar died in the year 1792 AD at the age of around 91 years.
Ashraf Ali Al-Thhanaviy (1863 – 1943 AD) a religious scholar and reformer of great repute was born in Thaana Bhawan (Distt. Muzaffarnagar, India) in 1863 AD. He graduated from the Deoband school of Islamic education 1884 AD and started his career as a teacher at an institute at Kanpur, India. In 1898 he resigned from his post and moved to Thana Bhawan, where he lived the rest of his life.
Ashraf Ali Thhanaviy was a renowned Islamic scholar and a Sufi. Throughout his life he kept himself busy in the teaching and propagation of Islam through his speech as well as his pen. His books, which are over one thousand in number, cover diverse topics, such as Qur’anic exegesis, the science and explanation of hadith, logic, philosophy, beliefs and Tasawwuf.
There was absolutely no relationship between Abd al-Wahhaab and Ashraf Ali Thhanaviy, except for the relationship, which naturally exists between two Muslims. The understanding and presentation of Islam of the one is highly variant from that of the other. There hardly seems to be any common factor between the understanding of the two scholars.
I hope this helps.
October 23, 2000