Imam Nawvi (b. 631 AD) migrated to Damascus at 19 and earned wide acclaim as an erudite scholar in six years‚€™ time. He rendered invaluable service to spread knowledge. He took active part in practical life and at the same time remained preoccupied with his academic activities in a highly organised and most systematic manner. He has left behind a large number of writings which serve as a beacon-light for generations to come.
Topic: Imam Nawvi‚€™s role in reformation of society with special reference to knowledge of Hadith Centres for Islamic education had been established in Sind, starting at the end of the first century Hijri till the start of the second century Hijri, where students were taught the Holy Qur‚€™an and Hadith.
To quote from a Sind historian, Debil had emerged as a great city centre for education and it produced great religious scholars like Ibrahim bin Muhammad, Abul Qasim Shoaib and Abul Abbas Muhammad bin Abdullah. Abu Jaffar Debili was the first Sindhi scholar who made research on the letters written by the holy prophet (peace be upon him).
The Qur‚€™anic education was declared compulsory in the regime of Walid bin Abdul Malik in 86-96 AH with the opening of a madressah (school) which later was converted into a centre for education in 99-101 AH by Hazrat Umar bin Abdul Aziz. The madressah also granted scholarships to brilliant and deserving students.
It was during the reign of Umro bin Muslim Albahli, an honest and God-fearing man, that a great number of rulers like the son of Raja Dahir, Jay Singh, embraced Islam. In the same period knowledge of Islam spread in the length and breadth of Sind. History stands witness that some of the most distinguished scholars, including Yazid bin Abi Kabishta al-Saksaki, Israel bin Musa Abu Musa Basri, Rabi bin Sabih Sa‚€™adi, Abdullah bin Muhammad Alvi, affectionately known as Ashtar, Umro bin Muslim Albahli, Najih bin Abdur Rahman Abu Muashar Sindhi, and Shaikh Abu Ali Sindhi, who was Hazrat Ba Yazid Bastami‚€™s illustrious teacher. Others whose names appear in history with reverence include Abu Abdul Malik Muhammad Abu Muashar Sindhi.
Imam Nawvi as a reformer
Imam Nawvi was not only an erudite scholar, an Islamic philosopher, an expert teacher of Hadith but he was indeed a great humanist and reformer. The great imam made his mark as a multi-dimensional personality in the intellectual circles of his time. His knowledge of grammar and dictionary was acknowledged in his lifetime. He always took active part for the welfare of the general public and advocated for the rights of the underprivileged.
The chapter on the biography of Imam Nawvi dilates on the imam‚€™s life, right from his family background. Yet little is know about his ancestors except that he hailed from some Arab tribe.
Imam Nawvi never wasted a single moment in his life. That means that he abstained from trivial pursuits of this mundane life. Whatever he did was always part of his worship to God. Thus he was a pious man who led the prayers for some time in Medina. He was the type of a person who disliked artificial things and believed in cardinal virtues. Sometimes he would go to the oppressed and help them get justice. His interest in politics was confined to justice for all in practical terms. Otherwise he abhorred earning and accumulating wealth.
According to one of his ablest students, Imam Nawvi got some of his unpublished works destroyed just because he did not have enough time to revise them properly.
Grateful acknowledgments are due to Professor Dr Hisamuddin Mansoori, the supervisor of this thesis, and Professor Dr Abdur Rashid, Dean Faculty of Islamic Studies, Karachi University, for their great assistance and enlightenment without which this work would not have been completed.