Written by: Umm Sa'ad
Background and Education:
Hadhrat Maulana Qasim Nanotwi rahimuhullah alaih was born in 1831 AD in the village of Nanota near Saharanpur. Nanota was reputed for producing men of high caliber and Maulana Qasim was one of the forerunners amongst them. Chronologically he had a short life but the use he put this life to defies all senses. It can only be said that Allah subhanuhu wa ta'ala showered His special blessings of ilm and taqwa on Maulana Sahib and accepted him for the propagation of His Deen. Hadhrat Maulana Qasim Nanotwi was called Hujjatul Islam (the proof of Islam). His lineage reaches back to Hadhrat Abu Bakr Siddique radhiyallahu anh, which is why he is known as Siddiqi.
He received his primary education at his native place after which he was sent to Deoband where he studied for some time in Maulvi Mahtab Ali's primary school. Then he went away to his maternal grandfather at Saharanpur. In Saharanpur he studied the elementary books of Arabic grammar and syntax under the instruction of Maulvi Nawaz.
At the end of 1259/1843, Maulana Mamlook Ali, an eminent scholar of that time, took him to Delhi. There he began the Kafia and read other books. Thereafter he was admitted to the Delhi College but he did not take the annual examination. Maulana Muhammad Yaqub Nanotvi, his brother, writes:
"My late father got Maulavi Sahib admitted to the Government Arabic Madrasah and said: 'See to Euclid (geometry) yourself and do exercises of arithmetic.' After only a few days, it was talked about that Maulvi Sahib had finished studying all the ordinary discourses and had completed the exercises of arithmetic. Munshi Zakaullah turned out some questionsthat were very difficult. Maulana solved them all and became very well known (due to his intelligence).
But when the annual examination drew near, Maulvi Sahib did not take it and left the Madrasah. Everyone in the Madrasah, particularly the head-master who was the principal English teacher, regretted this very much".
Before entering Delhi College, he had read books of logic, philosophy and scholastic theology like Mir Zahid, Qazi Mubarak, Sadra, Shams-e- Bazigha under the instruction of Maulana Mamlook Ali at the latter's house. In the end, he joined that study-circle which then possessed a central position in the whole of India with regard to the teaching of the sciences of the Quran and Hadith.
Hadhrat Shah Abdul-Ghani Mujaddidi was then gracing the Masnad of knowledge of Shah Waliullah. From him he acquired the science of Hadith. News of his acuteness, knowledge, learning, and discernment had become widespread. This was shared with him by another great alim of the future, Rashid Ahmad Gangohi.
Hadhrat Maulana Nanotvi's contemporary, Sir Sayyad, expressed his impressions of Maulana Qasim in the following words:
"The people thought that after Maulvi Muhammad Ishaq no man like him with all those qualities was to be born, but Maulvi Muhammad Qasim has proved by his consummate righteousness, religiosity, piety, abstinence and humility that, through the education and training of this city of Delhi, Allah has created another man the like of Maulvi Muhammad Ishaq … rather, superior to him in certain things.
"There are many people alive who have seen Maulvi Muhammad Qasim receiving education at Delhi at a very young age. He had studied all the books under the late Maulvi Mamlook Ali. From the very beginning the signs of piety, abstinence, virtuousness and devotion to God were apparent from his ways and manners and the following couplet was perfectly applicable to him:
'Over his head through his intelligence was shining the star of loftiness'."
... to be continued