Shah Wali Allah 'S Philosophy of History

By Gul, Asma | Pakistan Historical Society. Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society, July-September 2015 | Go to article overview

Shah Wali Allah 'S Philosophy of History


Gul, Asma, Pakistan Historical Society. Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society


Introduction

By the start of eighteenth century, the Muslim world was devoid of any physical or intellectual movement or stirring. It became totally stagnant, eating like termites its own achievements and resources and making shallow the edifice of its greatness.

In this ocean of apathy, where the Arab world was influenced by the movement of Abdul Wahhäb (d. 1769), the Indo-Pak South Asian subcontinent was enlightened by the intellectual glory of Shäh Wall Allah (d. 1762). He was unique in the sense that although basically a theologian, he proved himself not only a great intellectual but a reformer as well. Through his pen he not only added valuable research work but also pondered over the degraded situation of Muslims. He also tried to find out the reasons of this degradation. He developed a philosophy of History, based on religion and on equity. The principles are moral and ethical. It covers all aspects of human life. The approach of it is sociological. The economy plays a major role in the formulation of its development.

A new term used in his 'philosophy' is 'Irtifäq' (lit. supporting one's self; leaning against someone for support), which denotes the stage of human development, a very interesting and fascinating interpretation of human history. It is discussed in this assignment.

Background

Shäh Wall Allah was born on 21 of February, 1703 A.D., in Dehli, in a respectable religious family. His father, Shäh ?Abdul Rahim was both, a Süß and a theologian. Shäh Wall Allah received his academic and spiritual education at the hands of his father, who combined in himself three strands of Indian Islam viz: theological, Sufistic and philosophical. Shäh Wall Allah was an heir to all these, and not only learnt Tafsîr (Exegesis) and Hadith (Tradition) and under went spiritual discipline, but also studied metaphysics, logic and ?Um al kaldm (scholastic knowledge) under his father.1

He was seventeen when his father died. Then he took control of Madrasah-i Rahlmyah founded by his father. After twelve years, in 1731, he went for Haj. There he stayed for fourteen months and got further academic training. He got the sanad (certifcate) in Hadith from Sheikh Abu Tahir.2 After his return to India in July 1732, he set himself to work on a planned and systematic manner. Prior to his departure for Arabia, his main occupation was teaching. Now he changed his method of work. He trained pupils in different branches of Islamic knowledge and entrusted them with the teachings of other students. He devoted himself largely to writing and before his death on 10 August 1762, he had completed practically a library of standard works.3 He wrote 26 Persian and 25 Arabic works besides some other minor works. Moreover, he wrote several letters to a large number of members of his community, pointing out their weaknesses in an effort to reform them.4

Shäh Wall Allah lived at a time when from the social, political, economic and ethical points, the Subcontinent of South Asia, was at the lowest ebb. Politically, the Mughul rule was extremely weak. Shäh Sähib witnessed the period of seven Mughul emperors. Most of them were mere puppets in the hands of king makers like Sayyid Brothers. The Mughul rule was challenged by newly formed regional nationalities of Sikhs, Jats, and Marhattas etc.* Political turmoil brought social degeneration of the whole community. Dehli was again and again ravaged by the invasions of Nädir Shäh, the Marhattas, Rohillas and so on. In short, Shäh Sähib witnessed the calamities in extreme form and morality at the lowest ebb. Moreover, his visit to Hijaz acquainted him with the deteriorated conditions of Muslims in other countries as well.

The socio-political situation in which Shäh Wall Allah lived aggrieved him. However, he faced them boldly. His analytical mind began to analyze the causes that had brought about this state of affairs.5 His sensitive soul pondered over the situation. He discerned and put forward certain social laws that propel human society, regenerating it and reforming it. …

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