“The critic of a genuine Sufi (muhiqq al-sufiyya) becomes a target of the hadith: ‘Whosoever shows enmity to a single one of My Friends, I have declared war on him.’ While one that abandons all condemnation for what is clearly wrong in what he hears from some of them, abandons the commanding of good and the forbidding of evil.”
[Allamah Al-Dhahabi in al-Muqiza]
Since starting this website, I’ve been requested numerous times to provide some more information on Hazrat Maulana Ahmad Sadeq Desai (Damat Barakatuhum). However, other than the fact that he is a Khalifah of Shaykh Maseehullah Khan (rahmatullahi alayh), who was one of the foremost Khalifahs of Shaykh Ashraf Ali Thanwi (rahmatullah alayhi) (d.1943), there is not much biographical information available regarding him at the moment. For now, I have compiled below some excerpts from Ulama, people who have interacted directly with him, and from other sources taken mainly from this website. Regarding the Maulana’s harshness towards deviations and deviants, the following article provides an answer:
Shaykh Maseehullah Sherwani Khan (rahmatullahi alayh)
Shaykh Maseehullah was amongst the foremost khalifahs of the accepted Mujaddid, Hazrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi. Uniquely, Shaykh Maseehullah had granted khilafaat to Maulana Ahmad Sadeq Desai while he was still a student in his Madrasah. A brother who resides in Port Elizabeth relates being in a Majlis of Shaykh Maseehullah in which he stated regarding Maulana Ahmad Sadeq Desai:
“There was never a student of the likes of Maulana Ahmad Sadeq Desai. There is not one and there never will be one ever in the history of the Madrasah of Jalalabad in India.”
A revert brother from New York narrates:
“I personally known Hazrat Moulana A.S. Desai for over 20 years and know for a fact that during his madrasah days Moulana Maseehullah Ummat Khan ( rahmatullah alayh) used to come in Moulana A.S. Desai’s room and had to force him to stop reading his madrasah kitabs and would comment by saying ”your doing too much, please take a break”. This was the only student of Maseehullah ( rahmatullah alaih) that he had to force to a break in his studies. Moulana is truly a living Waliullah.”
Mufti Ibrahim Desai (www.askimam.org)
Mufti Ibrahim Desai states:
In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
Assalaamu `alaykum waRahmatullahi Wabarakatoh
The editor of the Majlis, Hazrath Moulana Ahmad Sadeck Desai Saheb Madda Zilluhu is an Aalim of a very high calibre. He has a deep understanding of Shariah. This is clearly gauged from his innumerable publications. Hazrath Moulana is the Khalifa of Hazrath Maseehullah Khan Saheb rahmatullah alayh. Hazrath has been selflessly dedicated to Amal bil Maroof and Nahi Anil Munkar for the past few decades. Hazrath is also engaged in various other activities. It is surprising how much one person can do. Allah has granted Hazrath great courage and strength. He is a person of high level of taqwa and mujahadah. He does not go after position and fame. If that was the case, Hazrath would not have selflessly and openly condemned many wrongs and evils for the fear of becoming unpopular. Many people throughout the world continue to benefit from Hazrath Moulana’s publications.
Television is haram and we concur with Hazrath’s view on that. It is possible that the different radio stations err in some issues. If Hazrath points that out, it should be accepted and corrected. It is incorrect to brand Hazrath of being over extreme when he is fulfilling his obligation on Nahi Anil Munkar. Those that claim that Hazrath is extreme, what is their measure to claim that? If people violate the laws of Shariah and Hazrath rightfully condemns that, how can that be extremism? What do such people expect Hazrath to do? Keep quiet? What will that be then? Complacence, which is a sin.
It should also be pointed out that differences of opinions among academics is regarded as academic honesty. This is common even among academics in secular qualifications. The different views among the Ulama, based on academics is a mercy upon the ummah and should be tolerated. If other Ulama have differing views from Hazrath’s views and both are based on academic substantiations, then it will be incorrect to brand any one view as being an extreme view. While we concur with Hazrath on the issue of television and open wrongs of television and radio stations, we may differ with him on other issues. However, we will respect his view and tolerate it as Hazrath’s views are generally substantiated by Shariah.
If anyone claims to have an academically different opinion and he does not stand up to the academic challenges made to him, that is academic dishonesty and such an opinion cannot be tolerated as that is regarded as academic dishonesty.
Another issue is the tone and manner of condemning a vice. This is based of hikmah and wisdom. At times, the Quran condemns certain wrongs in certain ways, medium to harsh. This is based on what is best in the interest of that time and matter. An Aalim of Deen is imbued with hikmah. He exercises that hikmah and whatever he honestly feels between him and Allah is the most efficient tone in condemning a wrong, he does that.
The different ways of Ulama condemning wrongs, some with softness and others harshly etc. should be viewed in this light. Concentrate on the actual issue pointed out rather than focus on the style and tone.
When the laws of Shairah are violated and people, especially Ulama, keep quiet, that incurs the wrath of Allah. The silence of Ulama will lead to distortion of Shariah and Deen. Allah condemned the Ulama of theYahood and Nasaara for keeping quiet against open violation of the Shariah. Rasulullah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said, “This knowledge of Deen will be carried by just people from pious predecessors. They will refute distortions of extremists, refute baseless claims and wrong interpretations of ignorant people”.
And Allah knows best
Mufti Ebrahim Desai
Shaykh Abdul Hamid Ishaq
Shaykh Abdul Hamid Ishaq (Damat Barakatuhum) states:
“Moulana Ahmad Saadiq Saheb of Port Elizabeth’s Majlis-ul-Ulama says that the Jihad of the century is to establish Makaatib, and Madaaris. I am in 100 percent conformity to Hazrat Moulana’s suggestion. This is one of the greatest needs of the time. I don’t want to delve into this subject, which, incidentally, is very essential, but the Maktab is a place where, if run correctly, forms the foundation of the Ummat.”
There are currently over 300,000 students studying at Maulana Ahmad Sadeq’s Maktab Madrasahs which are mostly (purposefully) located in remote areas where the Christian NGOs are carrying out their missionary activities. He has had over 1,300,000 children complete the course so far.
Mufti Afzal Husayn Ilyas
Mufti Afzal Husayn Ilyas stated in defense of Maulana Ahmad Sadeq Desai’s harshness when condemning evil:
“Who are you to judge him?
Study Islamic History, you will find that as per the temperament of the people ALLAAH sends a Nabi accordingly – sometimes firm, other times soft – but in the Shariat of Hadhrat Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) all types of people have been catered for.
Thus if one method does not work use another. In different situations different methods are used. Thus Moulana has got his method. His services will and cannot be forgotten. Your definition of ‘Ambassador of Islaam’ is not correct. My suggestion is to meet the man.
Enjoining what is Right and forbidding evil has various levels, degrees, methods and stages. Firmness can be seen in the life of Sahabah (radhiyallahu anhum). Actions of Nabi (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), Hadhrat Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu anhu), Hadhrat Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) and Hadhrat Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) can be read.
True Ambassodors of Islaam are the sahabah (radhiyallahu anhum) – read our translation of ‘Hayaatus Sahabah’ for more details. If a person is burning in a house, a robber is about to steal, a murder about to happen, now when raising the alarm are you going to for in for ‘Tajqeed’ lessons.
There are different methods for different situation whilst different react differently. See the severity, velocity of the sin and firstly recognize sin to be sin which most do not know – this reformation is virtually impossible… “
COMMENTS FROM ENEMIES, STUDENTS, AND OTHERS
Shaykh Ismail Ibrahim Patel al-Salafi (al-Hanafi) aka Harris Hammam
Despite being the sorry victim of one of Maulana Ahmad Sadeq Desai’s humiliating refutations (see here: Lies, Distortions, and Slanders of the Salafi Sect), he still felt constrained to open a forum thread specifically in appreciation of Maulana Ahmad Sadeq Desai – presumably after reading a bit about him:
“I want to highlight his Walaa and Baraa, the sacrifices he’s gone through in life, and his love for the Deen of Allah. He is better than me and most people out there no doubt, and he is most certainly a billion times better than all those Salafis.
And of course, besides the insults, his legendary usage of the English language.
Before anybody starts neg-repping me, may I remind you the Mufti AS Desai is the one is in the middle of refuting me as we speak. Politely disagree with the premise of this thread, if you may.”
“Colonel Hardstone” from Muftisays.com
Muadh Khan from Muftisays.com, who dubs himself ‘Colonel Hardstone’, and is yet another self-appointed ‘Mujtahid’ prowling the internet day and night in the mould of Harris Hammam, vomiting out quarter-baked, error-ridden ‘researches’ for the willing consumption of his boot-licking, salivating audience, reports this from a brother:
“I met Hazrat Maulana AS a couple of weeks back. He is absolutely a Wali of this time. Where would you find a person in this age with plain clothings, I counted 4 or 5 patches on his clothing. his hair was extremely oiled as though he just took a shower. He reminded me of the ahadeeth about Nabi salallahu alayhi wasallam. He was more like bubbly, would talk in hyperness. Extremely witty. Walked with firmly grounding his foot. When he met Mufti XXX’s son the first thing he did was masnoon dua. In the entire time I spent in his company, I grew more and more closer to him. I felt being drawn to him like a magnet. His talk was none of the vocabulary of his writing, but simple English. At time he would explain something trivial but somehow the way he would speak would convince us.
He reminded me of no one but a Wali of Allah. Extremely Mutabi’ sunnah, and pleasant to be in company of. Firm on his stance.”
An Interesting Incident With a Drunkard
A Sister relates an interesting incident:
“Okay, of course i’m going to relate an incident about Ml Ahmed Saadiq Desai of the majlis…..
A certain relative, living in port elizabeth close to ml desai told me this herself…. It was a freezing cold day and her husband went to see moulana for some work. She decided to wait outside moulanas home in the car, since they intended to go shopping thereafter.
Earlier that day her house doorbell rang, and there outside stood this dirty smelly drunkard. Because of the way this guy looked and he was obviously a bit drunk, they (her husband and her) didnt give him anything or even opon the door at all.
Now while she’s sitting in the car, she see’s this same man ringing moulana’s doorbell. Moulana comes and opens the door, asks the guy to take a seat on his doorstep and goes back indoors. After a few minutes he returns with sandwiches and a steaming mug of coffee and serves this drunkard himself. The man eats his fill and leaves happily.
My relative said after observing all this, she sat i the car fighting back tears because of the way this incident touched her and caused her to feel guilty about her own insensitivity. She and so many other neighbors like herself, did not bother to give this person a second look and probably even looked down upon him for being a drunkard on the streets, and yet moulana, in spite of being so busy, left all his work aside and made time to prepare a meal and himself serve him… (!)”
Wild Birds Who Visit His Yard
The same sister gives the following information regarding him:
“Ml desai is a senior khalifah of moulana maseehullah khan sahib (R.A). after completing his studies he was set to go to America and become a lawyer, he went to india for some reason and visted ML maseehullah R.A, who made a great impression on his life. Ml maseehullah (R.A) took an immense liking to him and asked him to stay on and do his aalim course… and ml stayed, completed his aalim course and got khillafat.
Ml is very strict on the shariah (who doesn’ know that!) and he is an extremely busy man, he does A LOT of deen work, runs thousands of maktabs and madaaris throughout the world, writes and translates loads of literature, has to reply to dozens of correspondence’s etc. Every day… and yet he finds time to personally cook a pot of food for the poor every morning and make it into sandwiches, the beggers of the town know ml’s home and come to fetch their sandwiches when they are hungry.
Forget the beggars, ml feeds the wild birds who visit his yard everyday and he has soo much of taqwa and concern for the creation that when he goes to Durban and Johannesburg (which he does regularly) he gives the responsibility of feeding the birds every morning to his neighbor so that when those birds who are accustomed to finding their food come, they do not leave his yard disappointed! Subhanallah! remember we not talking about a guy who has time to sit on his porch and count the stars, this is a man drowning in work!!!
Ml only sleeps 2 hours per night and spends the rest of the night in ibaadah, my friend told me that she saw the musallah which ml uses to perform nafl salaah on, and that musallah has been used soo much that there are literally HOLES by the feet, hands and forehead places on that musallah! Also ml fasts every day except twice a week for years, unless he is travelling or seriously unwell etc.
He lives extremely simple and is very humble, wears and patches his clothes until he can’t use them anymore. ML’s entire house is bare of all unnecessary furniture (including couches and kitchen units!) every single room in his house (except his bedroom) resembles a library, almost the entire house, including the passage, has shelves from ceiling to floor and is lined with kitaabs upon kitaabs. He generally walks to the masjid for salaah. Eid nights he remains awake the entire night in ibaadah and deeni work. Also ml is constantly conscience of death, an example is: someone asked him why do you travel by car when going to Durban and Johannesburg (a 10 – 12 hour journey by car) instead of taking a flight? He replied that he won’t do so becoz he wouldn’t like maut to find him whilst in the plane amongst the kuffaaar and their liquor and nudity etc. he rather take the long journey and be safe!
insha-ALLAH when i get more info on ml i will post…
Famous Criticism of the Taliban:
A brother states regarding Hazrat Maulana’s famous condemnation:
“…it is important that while witnessing many of our own Ulama treading the path which Shaytaan led the Barelwis through, we do not react towards the other extreme and become duped by the very same Shaytaan into treading the path of the Salafis – Surah Fatihah is the greatest protection from being diverted to one of these two extremes.
Our Akaabir gave a very simple prescription for the kind of tasawwuf to be adopted when the majority of the ulama are charlatans, as is the case today: Until the Saalik finds a Shaykh (and they will always be around no matter how rare) who is unwaveringly uncompromising and firm on the Shar’iah, he must adopt patience and acquire the ‘Suhbat’ of the Auliyah by reading their accounts abundantly. Once the Saalik finds a true Shaykh, he should hold on to him like the most precious thing in his life.
Now, regarding Mufti Desai, if you have the means to visit him you should do so. Brother Ibrahim visited him recently and mentioned that he has never come across anyone like him, and that he brings to one’s mind, the stories from the Salaf. His works and writings testify that he really does not belong to this age and is a remnant from the past.
I have read enough from him to also believe that he is a man of tremendous baseerat and perhaps even kashf. Some of what he writes regarding the spiritual aspects of sins and good deeds are written as if he is directly witnessing them himself – the point you made is just one of many examples.
There are also innumerable examples that I can mention where he predicted events many years before they had materialised. More than 7 years ago when he was speaking about Iraq and the Azaab of the Allah (azza wa jal) that struck them due to their actions, he stated clearly that Syria would be next. He had also predicted, more or less, that an enemy power would displace the Talibaan, though only momentarily, as a result of their relaxations of the Shari’ah.
You will not find a Mufti, at least in the English-speaking world, who is more outspoken and prolific in his writings in expressing his support and love for the Talibaan whom he believes to be the closest in the world to Islamic teachings. Despite having mureeds involved there since the time of the Russian invasion, he was completely shocked when he went there and directly witnessed many of their transgressions.
In advising them privately and publically, he was desperately attempting to avert the punishment of Allah (azza wa jal) from descending upon them. The fact that his love for them did not deter him from speaking the Haqq speaks volumes. Within months of his Naseehat, Allah’s azaab did arrive in the form of America.
The funny thing was that while the whole word, including some our ulama, was lambasting and criticizing the Talibaan for being too strict and ‘fundamentalist’, Mufti Saab was criticizing them for being too liberal! And his criticisms were completely justified when you read about the terrible transgressions he himself had directly witnessed…”
Many Inspirational Talks But Little Long-Term Effects
“There are many scholars who are able to give the most inspiring speeches in which the whole audience is captivated and left buzzing for hours afterwards, brimming fully with jazba, ready to change the whole world. However, within a few hours of the talk, all that jazba dissipates away and changing just one’s own habit of sleeping through tahajjud and fajr time becomes an insurmountable task. On the other hand, there are Auliyah (friends of Allah) who hardly speak, but the few words that come from their pure heart, create a life-long effect on countless people.
I never really understood this concept until I started reading the writings of Mufti A. S. Desai (Damat Barakatuhum). Despite the fact that he is alone in some of his opinions, and I have still yet to come to terms with the tone and style of his writings, he has had quite an effect on me personally. One example is Mufti Saheb’s stance against fizzy drinks. Ever since I read just the introduction of his book on fizzy drinks (I left the rest for later which I haven’t come round to finishing yet), probably more than five years ago, I haven’t drank a drop of fizzy drink.
The strangest thing has been that, even though all my favourite drinks were fizzy, this abstention has not been difficult at all and I can’t really recall having to do any mujaahadah at all in all these years, even when I’ve been extremely thirsty and the only drink in front of me was my favourite one.
I’m convinced that Mufti Saheb is a Wali of Allah.”
A Glimpse into His Daily Schedule
“A brother who recently visited Hazrat told me that Hazrat replies to over a hundred letters daily in addition to writing books and literature continuously. The brother also confirmed that Hazrat only sleeps 2hrs, and whenever he sleeps 2hrs and 30minutes, he laments the fact that he had overslept. Other than his night-long vigil in ibaadah and salaat, Hazrat reads at least 10 Juz from the mushaf daily.
Time and Place is in the control of Allah (azza wa jal), and He (azza wa jal) grants Barakah in Time for the Auliyah.”
Some of the Works he is involved in:
A mureed states:
“Moulana is a 72 year old,South African(3rd generation iirc) aalim who is a senior khalifah of Ml.Maseehullah Khan Sherwani(r.a.).Moulana gained his initial prominance due to Ml.Maseehullah(r.a.) fondness of him. Moulana was one of the most hard working students in the madressah, completed his studies and was given Ijazah in a very short period of time. Moulana has been involved in various branches of deen. Moulana is a sheikh of tasawwuf,was/is involved in the ta’leem of children,maktab and other levels iirc, also through his awake magazine and al-haq,al-majlis and other publications. Moulana has compiled plenty of books on different speres of deen, including fatawa, tasawwuf, ibadat, responses to baatil, fiqh, aqeedah and many more.
Moulana was also involved in jihad, running jihad camps in the mountains of the Eastern Cape province of South Africa,and he had links to several of the afghan mujahideen. I am not sure if he spent time in afghanistan just as an observer or if he was active in the actual jihad against the soviets. Moulana is a vocifirous votary of the caucus mujahideen. Moulana also runs a humanitarian organisation known as SOSH/servants of suffering humanity. Moulana also runs an extensive project which is known as the maktab project. It is run in many countries, primarily in bangladesh and impoverished muslim communities that have little deen and where christian missioneries are active. In 1999, there were 600 maktab madrasahs run by moulana. I don’t know about the present situation.
It was during one of moulanas visits to the madrasahs in bangladesh that Moulana was arrested and imprisoned in Bangladesh by the CID of Bangladesh and the CIA. Moulana was improsened for 6 months without being formally charged and he was stuck in Bangladesh for another 6 months as his passport was confiscated. During Moulanas detention, he was continously interrogated for 29 days by CID,during which sleep depravation e.t.c. were employed. He was thereafter interrogated by the CIA.During the CIA interrogations he was taken to an elite suburb of Dakha. Amongst the things he was accused of were: Financing al-qaida and Usama Bin Laden; Owning diamond mines with Usama; funding jihad throughn his ‘diamond mines’; conspiring to overthrow the bangali government, assasinating intellectuals, secularists, senior millitary officials e.t.c.; Being part of Usama’s command structure; establishing 421 jihad training units in Bangladesh e.t.c..During Ml. imprisonment, he had the full support of the S.A. govt. and the embassy in Delhi. Embassy officials were sent to report on his well-being and to liase with his legal team and inspect his madrasahs.
Moulana gained a lot of stick during the late 90’s from other deobandis. Moulana was involved in a controversy.He was part of a fact finding mission(of his organisation) to afghanistan. His report on the taliban was critical.He was critical of their ‘wastage of food’, misappropriation of funds, tolerance of bid’ah, acceptance of bay’ah of the shiahs, allowing televisions to be transported through afghanistan,’forsaking the salafi mujahideen on the pretext of them being salafi’ e.t.c. However, in 2000/2001 iirc, when the taliban ‘corrected’ some of these issues he praised them. Moulana has travel restrictions placed on him.
Moulana is very strict in his fatawa and very harsh in his language. It is not appropriate for laymen to desrespect ulama/certain ulama on the basis of his writings. May Allah unite the ulama on haq.
German Revert Sister Who Was Formerly a Fascist Nazi
A revert Sister from Germany states after reading the comments above:
I can only confirm the above, even though we never had the chance to meet our hadhrat wala, but he has been to us like father, guiding us toward the haqq with firmness and love at the same time. He is a very concerned Muslim and Aalim of the highest degree. The kind you read about in the books of the elders of Deoband.. May allah Ta’ala always protect him, his family, his followers and never let him stray..Ameen