Q. Can you please enlighten me on the concept of Mujaddids? Who are the past ones and recent/current ones? Was Imam Ahmad Raza Khan a Mujaddid or a reliable scholar? Are his works recommended?
A. A mujaddid according to the popular Muslim tradition, refers to a person who appears at the turn of every century of the Islamic calendar to revive Islam, remove from it any extraneous elements and restore it to its pristine purity. A mujaddid might be a caliph, a saint (wali), a prominent teacher, a scholar or some other kind of influential person.
The concept is based on the following Prophetic tradition (hadith): Abu Hurairah narrated that the Islamic prophet Muhammad said, “Allah shall raise for this Ummah at the head of every century a man who shall renew (or revive) for it its religion.” – Sunan Abu Dawood, Book 37: Kitab al-Malahim [Battles], Hadith Number 4278.
There can be more, and there has already been more than one Mujaddid to a Century. In the Hadith, the Arabic word that is used to explain the coming of the Mujaddid is in the singular tense, but according to the meaning, it is a plural as it has been explained in the Kitaabs of Usool-e-Fiqh. Allamah Mulla Ali bin Sultan Qaari (Alaihir rahmah) who is also said to be the Mujaddid of the 11th Century says,
“From the words, not only one single person is implied, but the implication is towards a group of people, from amongst whom each one is reforming a single type of knowledge or all types of knowledge in his city.”
So, sometimes a single Mujaddid is born in a century and sometimes there are two or a group in one given century when a consensus cannot be reached on one person. There are time when an Alim be in the middle of century who may be more knowledgeable and excellent than the Mujaddid, but he will not be classified as a Mujaddid because he did not get the early stages of the century. This is so because generally when the century ends many of the great Ulama also pass away and great dissension and Fitna engulfs the Ummah. Bid’ah and religious corruption creeps into the masses who tend to deviate from the pristine teachings of Islam. At this crucial period there is a great need for revival and renaissance in matters of Deen. At this critical time Allah sends such an Aalim who removes all evil and religious corruption from the Ummah by publicly announcing and refuting them. He will be the best of people and most awesome amongst the dignitaries of his time.
The Reformers of Islam (Mujaddid)
In his short essay entitled Tuhfat al-Mujtahidin bi Asma’ al-Mujaddidin (“The Gem of the Striving Scholars: the Names of the Renewers of the Religion”) al-Suyuti listed the Renewers as follows:
1st century: Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz
2nd century: Imam al-Shafi’i
3rd century: Imam Ibn Surayj and Imam al-Ash`ari
4th century: Al-Baqillani, Sahl al-Su`luki, and Abu Hamid al-Isfarayini
5th century: Imam al-Ghazzali
6th century: Imam Fakhraddin al-Razi and al-Rafi`i
7th century: Ibn Daqiq al-`Id (625-702 A.H.)
8th century: Al-Bulqini and al-Iraqi
9th century: Imam Jalaluddin al-Suyuti (849 – 911 A.H.)
The above mentioned centuries are according to the birth of those scholars. But a Mujaddid of a century is known to be the one who is born in the previous century but his Tajdid (revival) occurs in the next century. Hence the above names be considered the Mujaddids of the next centuries.
I will continue this list by the century in which the Mujaddid did the revival of Islam.
The first century of Hijri calendar marks the start of Islam. The line of Mujaddids starts from the 2nd century (after the first hundred years of the demise of Rasul-ullah s.a.w.).
The great caliph of Islam, Imam Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz is widely acclaimed to be the very first Mujaddid of Islam. He was a caliph for a very short duration (1 to 2 years), but he did great works in that short while.
Other suggested names: Imam Abu Hanifa (80 – 148 A.H.) – the greatest Imam of Fiqh
The great Imam and founder of the second largest Sunni school of jurisprudence, Imam al-Shafi’i
Imam Ibn Surayj and Imam al-Ash`ari
Al-Baqillani, Sahl al-Su`luki, and Abu Hamid al-Isfarayini (considered by Imam al-Suyuti)
Imam al-Ghazzali (considered by Imam al-Suyuti)
Hadhrat Abu Yusuf Hamadani (440 – 535 A.H.) – He was the shaykh of Sayyidina Abdul Qadir Jilani, as well as a grandsheikh of Naqshbandi tariqah. All the majpor Sufi orders have directly benefited from him.
Imam Fakhraddin al-Razi and al-Rafi`i (considered by Imam al-Suyuti)
Khwaja Mueen al-Din al-Hasan al-Sanjri al-Ajmeri (535 – 633 A.H.) – He was the Imam of the Chishti sufi tariqah, and with his efforts a significant part of the Indian population converted to Islam
Ibn Daqiq al-`Id (625 – 702 A.H.) (considered by al-Suyuti)
Al-Bulqini and al-Iraqi (considered by al-Suyuti)
Imam Jalaluddin al-Suyuti (849 – 911 A.H.)
Shaykh Ahmad al-Faruqi of Sirhind, India (d. 1034) – unanimously accepted as the only Mujaddid of 11th century as well as the second millennium of Islam, hence called Mujaddid Alf Thani (Mujaddid of the second Millenium). He received this noble post of Mujaddid in 1010 AH, exactly after 1000 years of the demise of the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him. He is the Mujaddid of a millenium, not only a century.
The great Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir Mujaddidi Masoomi of Delhi, India. He established the Islamic governance in India, and he was a khalifa of Imam Muhammad Masum al-Sirhindi.
Al-Qutb `Abd Allah al-Haddad of Hadramawt, Yemen
Hadhrat Abdullah Mujaddidi alias Shah Ghulam Ali Dehlavi of Delhi, India (1158 – 1240 A.H.) – most widely acclaimed, as he was the Shaykh of Khalid al-Baghdadi and lived almost the same times
Shaykh Khalid al-Baghdadi al-Mujaddidi of Damascus (1193 – 1242 A.H.) – acclaimed by the Khalidi Naqshbandis
Shaykh Muhammad Amin `Abidin (Ibn `Abidin) of Damascus – a student of Shaykh Khalid al-Baghdadi
(Shaykh G.F. Haddad has named both of them (Shaykh Khalid and his student Ibn Abidin) as the Mujaddids of 13th century)
Shaykh Muhammad Zahid al-Kawthari of Turkey
Shaykh Badr al-Din al-Hasani of Damascus, Syria
Sheikh Ahmad ibn Mustafa al-Alawi (1869 – 1934 A.H.)
Hadhrat Pir Fazal Ali Qureshi Naqshbandi of India (d. 1934), the greatest Naqshbandi Shaykh in India in the fourteenth century
Today, there are numerous great scholars of Islam continuously reviving the spirit of Islam and working hard day and night to reform the Muslims in the whole world. It is hard to decide or single out one of them, and only time will show the real Mujaddid or Mujaddids of the 15th century.
As for Ahmad Raza Khan he was the founder the the Barelvi sect who are not from among Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah, therefore one should abstain from his works.
And Allah knows best.
Mufti Waseem Khan
This answer was collected from DarulUloomTT.net, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Waseem Khan from Darul Uloom Trinidad and Tobago.