Obituary: Sayyid Mawlānā Muḥammad Salmān Maẓāhirī (1365/1946 – 1441/2020)
بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم
Earlier this afternoon (Monday 28 Dhū al-Qaʿdah 1441 – 20 July 2020), we received the sad news of the demise of the teacher of our teachers, 76 (73) year-old Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Sayyid Muḥammad Salmān Maẓāhirī. Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā was the rector of the famous seminary of India, Mazahirul Uloom, Saharanpur since 1996. He was also the son-in-law of Shaykh al-Ḥadīth Mawlānā Muḥammad Zakariyyā Kāndhelwī (d. 1402/1982), the son of Mufti Muḥammad Yaḥyā Ṣāḥib (d. 1417/1996), and the grandson of Ḥakīm Muḥammad Ayyūb.
Undoubtedly, this is a huge loss for the Ummah and particularly for the Muslims of India. It follows the demise of Ḥaḍrat Mufti Saʿīd Aḥmad Pālanpūrī (d. 1441/2020) two months ago. Both these personalities were from amongst the most influential and revered personalities in India.
Reflecting on his demise, my respected father Mufti Shabbir Ahmad (b. 1376/1957) who studied under him said:
“The demise of our teacher Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Salmān Ṣāḥib leaves a huge void particularly for Mazahirul Uloom Saharanpur and the work of Tablīg. We express our condolences to the entire family and share their grief. A few days ago, Mawlānā’s brother Mawlānā Khālid Ṣāḥib’s wife passed away, she is the maternal granddaughter of Ḥaḍrat Shaykh [Mawlānā Muḥammad Zakariyyā Ṣāḥib], the sister of Mawlānā Shāhid Ṣāḥib. Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Salmān Ṣāḥib was blessed with many unique qualities. He had very good character, and Allah Almighty had blessed him with eloquence in speech. Recently, he had taken responsibility of Ḥaḍrat Shaykh’s Khānqāh. This was in addition to his role as rector of Mazahirul Uloom, a role which he fulfilled with excellence for more than 20 years. May Allah Almighty provide Mazahirul Uloom a good replacement. His demise follows the demise of great luminaries such as Ḥaḍrat Mufti Saʿīd Aḥmad Pālanpūrī, ʿAllāmah Dr Khalid Mahmood Ṣāḥib and Mawlanā Haroon Abasoomar. May Allah Almighty protect us all.”
Given the contribution of Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā, I thought it useful to pen a short obituary for the benefit of the English readers.
Early life, education and teachers
Mawlānā Sayyid Muḥammad Salmān Ṣāḥib was born on 13 Dhū al-Qaʿdah 1365 (10 October 1946) into a household renown for its piety and nobility. His father Mufti Muḥammad Yaḥyā Ṣāḥib (d. 1417/1996) was a very learned scholar who taught at Mazahirul Uloom Saharanpur and was also the Head of Iftāʾ for many years. My respected father Mufti Shabbir Ahmad studied Iftāʾ with him in 1400-1 (1980-1).
Mawlānā Salmān Ṣāḥib memorised the Quran, and thereafter embarked on the journey to become a scholar. He joined Mazahirul Uloom Saharanpur in 1381 (1962) at the age of 15 and graduated in 1386 (1966). It appears that prior to joining Mazahirul Uloom, he studied the early years of the Alim course with his father. Some of his notable teachers and the books they taught him at Mazahirul Uloom are outlined here:
- Shaykh al-Ḥadīth Mawlānā Muḥammad Zakariyyā Kāndhelwī (d. 1402/1982) taught him Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī. This was the penultimate year of him teaching Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī.
- Mawlānā Asʿadullāh Rāmpūrī (d. 1399/1979) taught him Sharḥ Maʿānī al-Āthār.
- Mawlānā Munawwar Ḥusayn Ṣāḥib (d. 1406/1986) taught him Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, Sunan al-Tirmidhī and Sunan al-Nasāʾī.
- Mufti Muẓaffar Ḥusayn Ṣāḥib (d. 1424/2003) taught him Sunan Abī Dāwūd.
- Shaykh al-Ḥadīth Mawlānā Muḥammad Yūnus Jownpūrī (d. 1438/2017) taught him Mishkāt al-Maṣābīḥ from the ‘chapter of major sins’, whilst the ḥadīths preceding this were taught by Mufti Muẓaffar Ḥusayn Ṣaḥib. This change occurred due to the demise of Mawlānā Amīr Aḥmad Kāndhelwī (d. 1384/1965). Mawlānā Salmān Ṣāḥib wrote the notes of these lessons which are used by many scholars worldwide. Last year, I uploaded them online, and they can be downloaded from the following link: https://archive.org/details/shaykhyunusjownpuri.mishkatdars.
A few months after his graduation, on 2 Dhū al-Qaʿdah 1386 (13 February 1967), Mawlānā Salmān Ṣāḥib got married to Khadijah, the daughter of Shaykh al-Ḥadīth Mawlānā Muḥammad Zakariyyā Kāndhelwī. Mawlānā Muḥammad Zakariyyā has mentioned this Nikāḥ in his autobiography ‘Āp Betī’ wherein he mentions that Mawlānā Salmān Ṣāḥib was his sister’s maternal grandson (nawāsā). The Nikāḥ was performed by Mawlānā Inʿām al-Ḥasan Ṣāḥib (d. 1416/1995).
Teaching and Principalship
Subsequently, in Shawwāl 1387 (1968), he was appointed to teach at his Alma mater Mazahirul Uloom. Initially he taught the books of the earlier and intermediary years and thereafter in 1392 (1972) he was given Jalālayn to teach. A few years later in 1396 (1976) he started teaching Mishkāt al-Maṣābīḥ and taught it for many years. My respected father studied Mishkāt al-Maṣābīḥ with him in 1398-9 (1978-9). His lessons were very popular from early on. Allah Almighty had blessed him with eloquence in speech and the ability to dissect difficult concepts and explain them to students.
Thereafter in 1992, he was appointed as the Deputy Nāẓim (Deputy Rector) of Mazahirul Uloom, and in 1996 he was appointed the Nāẓim (Rector), a role which he fulfilled until his demise. During his tenure, the seminary made substantive progress and his role in its development and expansion deserves recognition. Prior to this appointment, the turmoil that arose during and after the splitting of the seminary is well known. His leadership and interpersonal skills combined with his good character were from the ingredients of his success, which enabled him to consolidate the Dār Jadīd part of the seminary and take it from strength to strength.
During his principalship, he continued teaching the books of ḥadīth. For many years, he taught Sunan al-Nasāʾī. However, over the past few years, he taught Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim. When Shaykh al-Ḥadīth Mawlānā Muḥammad Yūnus Jownpūrī fell ill, he requested his student Mawlānā Salmān Ṣāḥib to teach Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim and Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī or appoint someone to do so. Mawlānā Salmān Ṣāḥib insisted that Shaykh should continue to teach Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī and agreed to teach Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim. This demonstrates Shaykh’s confidence in his student, who started to teach Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim and taught it for several years until his demise.
Relationship with Shaykh al-Ḥadīth Mawlānā Muḥammad Yūnus Jownpūrī
It is worth noting at this juncture that Mawlānā Salmān Ṣāḥib was very considerate towards his teacher Shaykh Muḥammad Yūnus Jownpūrī. Shaykh was an extended member of his family and the entire family of Shaykh Muḥammad Zakariyyā. Shaykh would reside in the compound of the Mazahirul Uloom Saharanpur and Mawlānā Salmān Ṣāḥib would attend to his needs. Food would be sent from his house and also Mawlānā Talha Ṣāḥib’s (d. 1440/2019) house regularly for Shaykh. Shaykh was sensitive by nature and Mawlānā Salmān Ṣāḥib would ensure Shaykh’s stay within the seminary is comfortable, in so far as possible. In this regard, he would regularly consult with my respected father.
Some people also complained to Mawlānā Salmān Ṣāḥib about Shaykh Yūnus Ṣāḥib, however, Mawlānā Salmān Ṣāḥib did not react once, nor did he succumb to any pressure. He was forbearing, accommodating and wise, whilst recognising the value of Shaykh and appreciating his profound knowledge, piety and God-consciousness.
60 years with Mazahirul Uloom
Overall, Mawlānā Salmān Ṣāḥib taught at the seminary for a total of 53 years, of which he served as the Principal and Rector for 24 years. He enrolled as a student at the seminary in 1381 (1962) as mentioned above, therefore his association with the seminary spanned over six decades.
In addition to this primary role at Mazahirul Uloom, Mawlānā also served as a Board member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and also sat on the Board of Nadwatul Ulama, Lucknow.
After Darul Uloom Deoband, Mazahirul Uloom Saharanpur is recognised as the second most important seminary affiliated to Deoband. It is home to thousands of students, and several hundred students graduate annually. Many of the leading scholars of India and beyond studied with Mawlānā Salmān Ṣāḥib. Some of the notable personalities include:
- My respected father, Mufti Shabbir Ahmad, UK.
- My respected teacher Shaykh ʿAbdurraḥīm Limbādā, UK.
- Mawlana Muḥamamad Saʿīdī, the rector of Mazahirul Uloom (Waqf).
- Mufti ʿAbdullāh Maẓāhirī, the founder of the seminary in Hansot, Gujarat, India.
- Mufti Kawthar ʿAlī Subḥānī, ḥadīth lecturer at Mazahirul Uloom (Waqf).
- Mawlānā ʿAbdulaẓīm Balyāwī, ḥadīth lecturer at Mazahirul Uloom.
- Mawlānā Muḥammad Ṣāliḥ, ḥadīth lecturer at the seminary in Kafleta, Gujarat, India.
- Mawlānā Yūnus Tājpūrī, Shaykh al-Ḥadīth of Imdadul Uloom, Vadali, Gujarat, India.
- Mawlānā Ibrāhīm Maẓāhirī, rector of the seminary in Kharod, Gujarat, India.
- Mawlānā Yāsīn, the rector of Jamia Naziria, Kakosi, Gujarat, India.
- Mawlānā Mujtabā, Shaykh al-Ḥadīth of the seminary in Alipur, Gujarat, India.
- Mufti ʿAbdullaṭīf, ḥadīth lecturer at Jamia Naziria, Kakosi, Gujarat, India.
Relationship with Shaykh al-Ḥadīth Ṣāḥib
As mentioned above, Mawlānā Salmān Ṣāḥib married the daughter of Shaykh al-Ḥadīth Mawlānā Muḥammad Zakariyyā Kāndhelwī, who was also his mother’s uncle. Mawlānā Salmān Ṣāḥib was very close to him and would be entrusted with writing his letters and working on his publications. Along with the current Shaykh al-Ḥadīth Mawlānā Muḥammad ʿĀqil Ṣāḥib (b. 1356/1937) and Shaykh al-Ḥadīth Mawlānā Muḥammad Yūnus Jownpūrī Ṣāḥib (d. 1438/2017), Mawlānā Salmān Ṣāḥib worked on some of the final publications of Shaykh al-Ḥadīth Ṣāḥib, including al-Abwāb wa al-Tarājim, Juz Ḥajjat al-Wadāʿ and others. In fact, Mawlānā Muḥammad Zakariyyā has mentioned all their names at the end of Juz Ḥajjat al-Wadāʿ (p. 325, al-Maktab al-Islāmī edition, 1434/2013).
In addition to this, Mawlānā Salmān Ṣāḥib’s Quran recitation was renown. Shaykh al-Ḥadīth Ṣāḥib had appointed three individuals to complete the full Quran each in Tarāwīḥ Ṣalāh, in each of the ten nights of Ramaḍān. Mawlānā Salmān Ṣāḥib would lead the Tarāwiḥ Ṣalāh in the final ten nights of Ramaḍān and complete the entire Quran. Mawlānā was also an expert reciter of ḥadīth and would read the Musalsalāt.
Mawlānā Salmān Ṣāḥib had a very open and free relationship with Mawlānā Talha Ṣāḥib (d. 1440/2019), the son of Mawlānā Muḥammad Zakariyyā. When Mawlānā Talha Ṣāḥib’s health started to deteriorate, 2-3 years ago, he appointed him as his deputy and after his demise last year, also managed the Khānqah.
Visits to the UK
In 1401 (1981), Mawlānā Salmān Ṣāḥib visited the UK with Mawlānā Muḥammad Zakariyyā Ṣāḥib who was on his second and final visit to the UK. The visit was arranged by our respected teacher Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Yusuf Motala (d. 1441/2019). During this visit, he delivered a 25-minute speech at our Darul Uloom Bury which was well received, leaving many listeners in tears. People who participated in the programme still recall this speech.
The second and final time Mawlānā visited the UK was in 1414 (1993) during the graduation programme for the Darul Uloom Bury students. Ḥāfiẓ Mawlānā Bashir Hafejee was part of this cohort. During this visit, he also visited our house in Blackburn and ate dinner.
However, my first recollection of Mawlānā is 1997 when we visited India as a family. Thereafter, I had the opportunity to meet him many a times during our visits to Saharanpur, in 2004, and thereafter many times. The final time I recall meeting him was on Thursday 30 April 2015, as outlined in my travelogue. He was always very warm, welcoming, friendly, kind and hospitable. He would always enquire about my respected father with whom he enjoyed a very close relationship. Whenever Mazahirul Uloom required some assistance, Mawlānā would contact my father who would make some arrangements.
A few days ago, my respected father informed me that Mawlānā Salmān Ṣāḥib is not feeling well. However, there was no suggestion that his health was critical. However, we understand that this morning, he was not feeling too well. Local hospitals were contacted; however, a Covid-19 clearance was required before he could be admitted. It was decided to take him to Delhi for treatment, which is a 3-4-hour journey. However, his blood pressure rose and he passed away in the outskirts of Saharanpur at approximately 5pm Indian time.
The Janāzah Ṣalāh was organised in the evening at Mazahirul Uloom and he was buried thereafter in the family cemetery. Due to the pandemic, the number of participants was limited, although hundreds of people assembled in Mazahirul Uloom for the Janāzah Ṣalāh.
We pray to Allah Almighty to forgive his shortcomings and grant him an abode in the highest stations of Jannah. May Allah Almighty accept his services and grant patience to all his family members, associates and students. May Allah Almighty protect Mazahirul Uloom and all the seminaries across the world.
28 Dhū al-Qaʿdah 1441 / 20 July 2020