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The Word Maulana

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by CouncilofUlama.co.za

Q: Please comment on the following:

“No country uses “Maulana” title: The mullahs (Muslim clerics) of sub-continent, particularly Pakistan, have adopted for themselves the honorific title of “Maulana” (which means OUR Protector, OUR Lord, OUR Master) – which has the most serious un-Islamic connotation of placing another WITH the Almighty (SHIRK). The word “maulana” is a compound word – MAULA and NA (our) which, under strict Islamic philosophy is applicable to ALLAH Ta’Ala (God/Divine Creator) ALONE! The word is used only twice in the Holy Quran, and refers to Allah Subhaanahoo Wa Ta’aala, indicating that it can be referred only to HIM alone and NO ONE ELSE!

(1) “Rabana…anta MAULANA fansoorna alal qaumil Kaafireen – Our Lord…You are our Protector/ Lord/ Master, so grant us victory over the unbelievers” (2:286).

(2) “Huwa MAULANA; wa alal Laahi fal yatawakkalil Mu’minoon– He (Allah) is our Protector/ Lord/ Master, And on Allah let the Believers rely” (9:51).

The argument is supported by the facts that: * in no other country in the world this honorific title is used; * in West Asia the title used is SHAIKH (head) and USTAAD (teacher); * in Iran the word used is IMAM (Leader), or MULLAH; *the Bohra Muslim sect head is called SAYYADINA (our leader); * in Central Asia countries the word used is MULLAH; * the word “maulana” is in usage only among the Urdu-speaking Muslims of the sub-continent; *until the birth of maulanaism, the words used among the Urdu-speakers also were MULLAH(fully equipped) or MAULAWI (belonging to God); * the dictionaries of the 19th century do not have this word “maulana”, and it is found only in modern dictionaries indicating that it is of recent origin; *noted religious authorities of the past also carry the word MULLAH, MAULAWI or SHAIKH. But “maulana” is not seen exceptin the case of Rumi, who is called“Maulana-e-Room ”. But he is a SUFI and SUFISM is rejected by the “maulanas” and Sufis have their own peculiar hierarchy andstandard of honorifics (e.g. QUTUB, ABDAAL, etc.) which are not only NOT recognised by these “maulanas”, but their beliefs and practices are condemned. Therefore Rumi’s honorific cannot come to their defence.

Mischief of the Hindu Press: Noted scholars even of the recent past like Abul Kalaam Azaad, Shibli Nu’maani, Ashraf Ali Thanwi, Abdul Haqq, have not been referred to as “maulanas”, but as Maulawis by Allamah Abdullah Yusuf Ali, translator/ commentator of the Holy Quran as late as in 1934. But the same Maulawis are recently redesignated by the present-day“maulanas”. This un-Islamic term appears to have been popularised by the Hindu Press by projecting Maulawi Abul Kalaam Azaad as “maulana” Azzad, with the dual purpose of making him a leader of Muslims and also to sell the word “maulana” among the masses! The Indian Muslim clerics gets hugely pleased on being called a “maulana”. He does not call himself a “maulana”, but waits until others (“maulana” and non “maulana”) call him a “maulana”. Thus there is a chorus and orchestration of “maulana” – all of whom become “proctectors” of the Ummah – and which boosts the egos of the “maulanas” sky-high!

Quran and Haditht: ALLAH Ta’Ala knew that one day these intellectual pygmies will try and arrogate to themselves His designation of “Maulana”, that is why HE made it absolutely clear that in he quranic commandment: “WA’TISIMOO BILLHI HUWA MAULAAKUM, FANI’MALMAULAWA NI’MAN NASEER “: Hold on (solidly) to ALLAH, He is your Protector, excellent the Proctector and excellent the Helper ! ” (22:78)

Answer: Imam Bukhari (May Allah Ta’ala have mercy on him) has mentioned many more meanings for the word Maula.

صحيح البخاري – (4 / 1670 دار ابن كثير ، اليمامة – بيروت( وقال معمر أولياء موالي وأولياء ورثة عاقدت أيمانكم هو مولى اليمين وهو الحليف والمولى أيضا ابن العم والمولى المنعم المعتق والمولى المعتق والمولى المليك والمولى مولى في الدين

This further proves that others besides Allah can be called a Maula. In fact, Nabi صلي الله عليه وسلم himself called Hadhrat Zaid a Maula as narrated in Sahih al-Bukhari,

صحيح البخاري – (4 / 1551 دار ابن كثير ، اليمامة – بيروت) 4005 – حدثني عبيد الله بن موسى عن إسرائيل عن أبي إسحاق عن البراء رضي الله عنه قال: لما اعتمر النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم في ذي القعدة فأبى أهل مكة أن يدعوه…الي قوله… وقال لزيد (أنت أخونا ومولانا). وقال علي ألا تتزوج بنت حمزة ؟ قال ( انها ابنة أخي من الرضاعة ) [ ر 1689 ]

This sufficiently proofs that using the word Maula for others besides Allah cannot be termed as Shirk. Remember, by a quality being attributed to Allah Ta’ala, it does not necessarily mean that that quality cannot be used for others. Allah Ta’ala is Rauf and Raheem, yet Allah Ta’ala called Nabi صلي الله عليه وسلم with these same two attributes.

لقد جاءكم رسول من أنفسكم عزيز عليه ما عنتم حريص عليكم بالمؤمنين رؤوف رحيم (128)

Likewise, Allah Ta’ala is Haleem, yet Allah Ta’ala used this same word for Ebrahim (Alayhi as Salaam)

إن إبراهيم لحليم أواه منيب (75)

A similar example to this is the word ‘master’ in the English language. This word can be used for Allah Ta’ala and it also can be used for anyone else in authority. Therefore, there is no prohibition in using the word Maula for Scholars.

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This answer was collected from CouncilofUlama.co.za, which is operated under the supervision of Council of Ulama Eastern Cape, South Africa.

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