On 30th December, when the 2016 AC was breathing its last and it was remaining just for a day, in the meantime, between Maghrib and Ishaa Salaah, Sheikh Abdul Haq Azami (Rahmatullahi Aleih), a great servant, distinguished scholar and eminent teacher of Hadeeth at illustrious Islamic University: Darul Uloom, Deoband went for heavenly abode. We accepted the news of the sudden demise of Sheikh like any other did. This news spread in the every corner of world like jungle fire. With much regret, grief and with heavy hearts people heard, read and shared it with others.
Death is such a reality that none have courage to deny it. When the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Aleihi Wa Sallam) faced the death, what to say about others! It is also a truth that death is a source to visit the Supreme Lord. If a person doesn’t die, how can he visit the Al-Merciful and Very-Merciful Allah! That was the reason that the Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) chose death for himself and he hinted about his death sitting on his pulpit. The Hadeeth’s English translation goes like this: "Allah has given one of His slaves the choice of receiving the splendour and luxury of the worldly life (whatever he likes) or to accept the good (of the Hereafter) which is with Him (Allah). So, he has chosen that good which is with Allah." On that Abu Bakr (understood that Nabi (SAWS) means himself, so he) wept and said, "Our fathers and mothers be sacrificed for you." (Bukhari, Hadeeth No.: 3904) May Allah they Almighty grant us death with Iman! Aameen!
Every single soul will have to taste death. Be it human kind, animal, bird or any creature will die at the stipulated time. The Almighty Allah says in the Verse: 85 of Surah Aal Imran in the Glorious Quraan: "كُلّ نَفْس ذَائِقَة الْمَوْت" (Every soul has to taste death.). Therefore, each one of prophets, companions and pious people tasted death and left for his fixed eternal places when their times of this world were over. We will also have to taste it a day. Sheikh Azami followed the verdict of the Supreme Lord and passed away like many others. May Allah grant him Jannatul Fridaus!
Sheikh Azami was born on 6th Rajab 1347 AH corresponding 17th December 1928 AC, in a village: Jagdishpur of district: Azamgadh in UP, India. He was just six years old, his beloved father, Muhammad Umar passed on. He was raised and brought up by his stepfather, a renowned scholar, Sheikh Abul Hasan Muhammad Muslim. Allah made this well brought up child, a shining start in the world. This orphan child, after becoming an Islamic Scholar, spent his entire life tirelessly and selflessly for the services and benefits of the learners, scholars and people from almost all the continents of the world. May Allah reward him for his lofty services! Aameen!
After receiving his basic knowledge, Sheikh Azami took admission in “Baitul Uloom”, Saraimir, a Madrasa in Azamgadh district established by Sheikh Abdul Ghani Phulpuri (1876- 1963), Khalifah of Sheikh Thanvi (1863-1943). He learnt in Baitul Uloom up to Sharhul Wiqaayah, a book of Hanfi Jurisprudence. He, thereafter, moved from Saraimir to Darul Uloom, Mau for further studies. He completed here in Mau up to Mishkaat Shareef, a well-known book of Hadeeth. From then on, he reached the world renowned Islamic University: Darul Uloom, Deoband to quench his thirst of knowledge.
He got enrolled in Darul Uloom, Deoband to complete his Fadhilah course. In Darul Uloom, Deoband, he acquired Hadeeth knowledge from Sheikhul Islam Sayyid Husain Ahmad Madani (1879-1957), Allamah Muhammad Ibrahim Baliawi (1304-1387=1886-1967), Sheikh Muhamad Izaaz Ali Amrohvi (1300- 1373=1882-1953), Sheikh Fakhrul Hasan Muradabadi (1905-1980) and Sheikh Zahoor Ahmad Deobandi (1900-1963) etc. He learnt full Bukhari Shareef and the first volume of Tirmidhi Shareef from Sheik Madani. In 1368 AH corresponding 1949 AC, He graduated from Darul Uloom, Deoband.
By the grace of Allah, the Almighty, Sheikh Azami learnt a lot from those towering personalities being in Darul Uloom, Deoband. Besides those great scholars of Hadeeth, he also got permission to teach and narrate Hadeeth on the authority of Sheikh Abdul Ghani Phulpuri (1876-1963), Qari Muahmmad Tayyib Qasmi (1897-1983), ex-VC of Darul Uloom, Deoband, Sheikhul Hadeeth Sheikh Muahammad Zakariyya (1898-1982) and world renowned scholar of Hadeeth Sheikh Habibur Rahman Azami (1900-1992).
Sheikh Azami, following graduation, opted for a career in teaching of the sciences of the Glorious Quraan and Holy Hadeeth. The first institute, where he started his teaching career was “Madrasa Matla’ul Uloom”, Banaras (Varanasi), UP. He taught there about 16 years and was Head Teacher as well as Sheikhul Hadeeth. Then he taught for 9 months in Madrasa Husainia, Giridih, Jharkhand (then Bihar). Thereafter, Sheikh was recruited in Darul Uloom, Mau, UP. In Mau, he taught the books of Tafseer, Hadeeth and Fiqh especially Bukhari Shareef in the presence of Muhaddith Kabeer Sheikh Habibur Rahman Azami (1900-1992) who was himself a celebrated scholar of Hadeeth.
In 1982, Sheikh was appointed in Darul Uloom Deoband as a senior teacher of Hadeeth. From that time, he continued teaching Bukhari Shareef, Vol.: 2, until he breathed his last. He was known among the students and teachers of Darul Uloom, Deoband as “Sheikh Thaani”, because of teaching the second part of Bukhari Shareef. He served in Darul Uloom, Deoband about 34 years. As a whole, his teaching career spans more than six decades, wherein he taught different Islamic Sciences. The students who learnt from Sheikh Azami are spread all over the world and they are proud of being his students. May Allah accept them as permanent charity for Sheikh! Aameen!
The lesson of Bukhari, Vol. 2 was taught following Ishaa Salaah. A group of students along with monitor used to go to “Masjide Chhatta”, where Sheikh’s residence was situated, to accompany him while coming to the class for teaching Bukhari Shareef. Currently, he used to come on wheelchair because of his ill health and growing weakness due to the old age. His teaching of Bukhari Shareef after Ishaa was about 2/3 hours. Because of his sincerity and unique teaching methodology, the students were finding the lesson so interesting that none was feeling tired and sleepy after learning so long period.
I saw Sheikh in 1997 or 1998 when I was a pupil of 2nd or 3rd Year of Aalmiyah Course at Madrasa Ashraful Uloom, Kanahwan in district Sitamarhi of Bihar. Sheikh came to visit the grave of Qari Muhammad Tayyib, ex-rector of Madrasa Ashraful Uloom. Actually Sheikh was on his way to Madrasa Faizul Islam, Parsa, Nepal, where he was supposed to address a religious gathering of Madrasa. Though Kanahwan is in India and Parsa is in Nepal; but the distance between these two places are just few kilo meters. Along with our colleagues and friends, I also went to attend the gathering of the Madrasa. When we reached Madrasa Faizul Islam, first we went to the room where Sheikh was resting before his sermon. We met him and greeted him.
When I got admission in Darul Uloom, Deoband in 2000 AC, often we used to see Sheikh; while he was coming to the class or going out of the class after teaching. After starting Miskhat Shareef, I fell in the same group of which Mishkaat’s lesson was assigned to Sheikh. After completion of Mishkaat, when we started final year in 2003, we were blessed to learn Bukhari, Volume: 2 by him as well.
Sheikh Azami was very humble and down-to-earth personality. It was very easy to have an approach to Sheikh and meet him. He never expressed that he was all go. Anyone could visit his residence and talk to him. He never disappointed anyone. Whenever someone came to him with an invitation to bless a religious gathering with his speech, be it in a village or a city, within country or abroad, he never minded to accept his invitation without any pre or post condition. Many Madaaris used to invite him in the beginning of academic year to teach Bukhari’s first Hadeeth and in the same way to complete the last Hadeeth at the end of the year.
Sheikh Azami got three marriages one after another. He was blessed with a son and two daughters from the first wife. When the first one passed on, he got the second marriage. He was blessed with a son, who died in the childhood, and two daughters from the second wife. When the second one passed away, he got the third marriage. He was blessed with six sons and three daughters from the third one. Altogether, Sheikh was blessed with eight sons and seven daughters. Seven sons and five daughters are alive. May Allah the Almighty keep them happy and make them permanent charity for Sheikh! Aameen!
Sheik Azami’s sudden demise came at the age of 88. Due to the old age, he grew weaker, but he didn’t have any serious health issue. On Friday, 30th December 2016, he vomited and complained about his health. He was taken to the hospital in Deoband. Following checkup and X-ray, his condition was described satisfactory by the doctor. But his worldly time was over, therefore, the doctor’s satisfaction paid nothing and he breathed his last on the described date between Maghrib and Ishaa in the hospital.
Sheikh’s funeral prayer took place on 31st December 2016, led by Maulana Sayyid Arshad Madani, professor of Hadeeth at Darul Uloom, Deoband, at 3:30 pm in Dare Jadeed campus of Darul Uloom, Deoband. A good number of people from masses and classes participated in the funeral. He was buried in the “Qasmi Graveyard” of Deoband. May the Almighty Allah shower His blessing and mercy upon his grave and grant him the highest place in Jannah! Ameen!
*Head: Islamic Studies Department, Moon Rays Trust School, Zambia, Africa