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Hazrat Maulana Shaikh Muhammad
Yaqub Nanawtawi

Maulana Muhammad YaqubNanautawi had acquired the knowledge of sciences from his august father, HadhratMaulanaMamlook Ali, and Hadhrat Shah Abdul GhaniMujaddidiDehelwi.

Maulana Muhammad YaqubNanautawi was born in Nanauta on 13th Safar, A. H. 1249. Manzoor Ahmed, Ghulam Husain and ShamsulDhuha are his chronogrammatic names.

He memorized the Holy Quran in Nanauta. In Muharram, A. H. 1260, when he was eleven years old, his august father took him to Delhi. His education began with Mizan, Munsha'ib and Gulistan. He acquired all the current sciences from his august father but the science of Hadith he completed under the instruction of Hadhrat Shah Abdul GhaniMujad­didi. In the traditional and the rational sciences, he was like his father. He had been endowed with a very nimble mind.

MaulanaMamlook Ali died in Zil-hijja, A. H. 1267/1851. Thereafter he stayed in Delhi for one year and then was appointed in Government College, Ajmer. It is stated inMaktubat-e-Yaqubi:

    "He went to Ajmer employed on Rs. 30/= At that time, he was very young. On seeing him the principal of Ajmer College remarked: 'The Maulawi is good but he is much too young, a teenager'. At the principal's recommendation he was given the Deputy Collector's post but he did not accept it. Thereafter he was sent to Benares on Rs. 100/= per month. From there he was appointed on Rs. 150/= as Deputy Inspector at Saharanpur. It was here that he witnessed the event of Mutiny".

During that period he stayed at Nanauta. He became relieved of responsibility by resigning from government service, and joined service in MunshiMumtaz Ali's press at Meerut. He himself writes in Sawanih-e-Qasimi:­
    "MunshiMumtaz Ali established a press at Meerut. He called Maulawi (Muhammad Qasim) Sahib for old friendship's sake and gave him the work of emendation. This work was nominal; his purpose was to keep Maulawi Sahib with himself. This humble self, after visiting Bareilly and Lucknow, got employed in the same press at Meerut".

In 1283/1866 he (MaulanaYaqub) came to Deoband and was appointed on the post of principal. He was the first Professor of Hadith of DarulUloom. The grace of his education and training produced many distinguished Ulama who shone like sun and moon on the firma­ment of knowledge and learning. In the brief span of 19 years 77 students acquired the prophetic sciences from him. Among them were the celebrated and matchless Ulama of their time like Maulana Abdul ­HaqPurQazwi, Maulana Abdullah Anbahtawi, MaulanaFateh Muhammad Thanwi, Shaikhul Hind MaulanaMahmoodHasanDeobandi, Maulana Khalil Ahmed Anbahtavi, Maulana Ahmed HasanAmrohi, MaulanaFakhrul­HasanGangohi, Maulana Hakim Mansoor Ali Khan Moradabadi, Maulana Mufti AzizurRahmanDeobandi, Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi, Maulana Hafiz Muhammad Ahmed and MaulanaHabiburRahman (Allah's mercy be on all of them).

Looking to Maulana Muhammad Yaqub and the educational benefac­tion of his disciples it would be no exaggeration to say that the major­ity of the Ulama who are in existence at present in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Central Asia have mostly feasted at this very table of knowledge.

Although there was domination of power (jalal) in his disposition, he used to behave with all and sundry with great affability and condescen­sion. As was the case with his elders, there was great independence in his nature which can be estimated from this event that once a gentleman who had great influence over his temperament said to him: "It is an earnest wish of such and such a Nawab Sahib that once you condescend to go to his place". The Maulana said: "We have heard that any Maulawi who goes to the place of that Nawab Sahib, the latter gives him one hundred rupees. Since he is himself calling us, he may perhaps give us two hundred rupees. But for how many days will these hundred or two hundred suffice us? By going there we will not smirch the reputation of Maulawi-ism".

The preface-writer of the Maktubat-e YaqubiHakim Amir Ahmed Ishrati, writes: ­
    "Hundreds of his pupils and proselytes and pupils of his pupils are present in the cities of India, Kabul and Bukhara, etc. He is skilled both in the rational and the traditional sciences. And even as he was a spiritual physician, he used to treat external (physical) ailments also. He was very well mannered, well behaved, well conditioned, well­ toned and well spoken.
   He went on pilgrimage (to Mecca) twice. The first Hajj he performed in 1277/1860, in the company of Maulana Muhammad Qasim (may his secret be sanctified). MaulanaMuzaffar Husain Kandhlawi and Haji Muhammad AbidDeobandi were also with them. This journey was made 'en route' Punjab and Sind. He has himself written a detailed memorandum of this journey in his Bayaz-e Yaqubi. For the second Hajj he went in 1294/1877. This time also there was a large company of the Ulama, Besides HadhratMaulanaNanautawi, HadhratMaulanaGangohi, Maulana Muhammad MazharNanautawi, Maulana Muhammad MunirNanautawi, Maulana Hakim ZiauddinRampuri, Shaikhul Hind MaulanaMahmoodHasanDeobandi, etc. there were nearly one hundred men in this holy caravan."

MaulawiJamaluddin Bhopal was a pupil of HadhratMaulanaMamlook Ali. On account of this connection he invited Maulana Muhammad Yaqub on a large salary to Bhopal but the Maulana, despite his meager pay at the Darul Uloom, did not like to sever his connection with it and instead sent his sister's son, Maulana Khalil AkhtarAnbahtawi, to Bhopal.

Maulana Muhammad Yaqub had a taste for versification and poetry. His non de plume was Gumnam. During his student days in Delhi he had seen the peerless poets of the time like Ghalib, Momin, Zauq, Sehbai and Azurda, and his ears were acquainted with the resounding furor of their poetical symposiums. In a letter to his proselyte, Munshi Muhammad QasimNayanagri, he has counseled him to read the poetical composi­tions of Dard, Sauda and Zauq as there is painfulness and effectiveness in them. The Maulana's poetical compositions in Persian and Urdu have been recorded in Bayaz-e-Yaqubi. Besides mastery of composition, pathos, touchingness and power of affecting are also found in them.

In authorial works he has left three treatises. Though Sawanh-e-Qasimi is a very brief biography, it is very valuable in respect of language and expression, and events and chronicles.

His second collection is entitled Muktubat-e-Yaqubi, which consists of 64 letters, These letters had been written in answer to queries, describing the solution of the difficulties of the mystic path, religio-Iegal propositions, and the modus operandi of the mystical path and system.

The third collectives are Bayaz-e-Yaqubi: it consists of the chronicles of the pilgrimage journey, chains of authorities of the tomes of Hadith, poems, devotional exercises, etc. containing some medical (tibbi) recipes at the end. HadhratMaulana Ashraf AIiThanwi has written marginal notes wherever necessary on both these collections.

A few days prior to his demise lie had gone to his native-place, Nanauta; there he died on 3rd RabiulAwwal, AH. 1302/1884, of cholera.

It is stated in a note in the Muktubat-e-Yaqubi; ­
   "On Saturday night, 1st RabiulAwwal, AH. 1302, Maulawi Muhammad Yaqub Sahib (Allah's mercy be on him) was suddenly, soon after having finished the Isha Prayer, involved in cholera. He fainted. He passed away from this mortal world at about 1-00 a.m. on the night of Monday. His noble grave is situated at Nanauta, in the northern direction, near the road to Saharanpur, in the new garden that has been cultivated by Mo’eenuddin. 'We belong to Allah and unto Him is the retreat. This is a soul-crushing event".

The chronicles of his life are met with here and there in Maktubat-e-Yaqubi and Arwah-e Salasa.