by Hadrat Allama Mufti Mohammed Naseem Ashraf Habibi
(Habibi Darul Ifta, Durban South Africa)
This Kitaab named Azharul Fatawa is a collection of Taajush Shariah's, Hadrat Allama Mufti Mohammed Akhtar Raza Khan Azhari's English Fatawa. Although most of the Fatawa were issued in South Africa, the type of questions that were submitted to him are the type that commonly emerges amongst Muslim communities living in Western countries, and therefore, they are useful to these communities.
Few people are aware of Taajush Shariah's competency in the English language. It is interesting to note that the entire Kitaab is a compilation of questions that were submitted to him through the English medium, and the answers which were recorded here verbatim are those that were dictated by Allama Sahib in the English language.
I have had the privilege of accompanying him in his tour of the East African countries, and I had witnessed first hand that whenever Allama Sahib was questioned about any Mas'alah through the medium of the English language, he replied in superb English with clarity and precision. It is regrettable that no record was kept of all the verbal directives and Fatawa issued by Allama Sahib in English on his tour as they exceed in number when compared with his written Fatawa.
Taajush Shariah's depth of knowledge of Fiqh is not unknown to the learned in this field. With the help of Almighty Allah, he truly is the inheritor of the traits of A'la Hadrat (radi Allahu anhu) in the field of issuing Fatawa. Just as Bareilly in the time of A'la Hadrat (radi Allahu anhu) enjoyed the privilege of being a superior centre for the issuing of Fatawa, today Allama Sahib's personality enjoys a similar privilege. After the passing away of Huzoor Mufti Azam Hind (radi Allahu anhu), Allama Sahib not only assumed the responsibility of the Darul Ifta, but he bestowed it with the dignity which created absolute confidence and respect in the minds of even the most learned in the field.
Allama Sahib's sagacity and retentive memory are legendary. He has been known to dictate Fatawa in such a manner that he quotes from memory the original text from Arabic reference works like a Hafizul Quran reciting the Quran. A unique aspect of the mode of expression of his Fatawa is the intense care that he takes in using the appropriate terms to maintain conciseness and clarity. Whilst adopting the style of A'la Hadrat (radi Allahu anhu) in his Urdu Fatawa, even those well-versed in English concede that his English Fatawa contain the same degree of concision and clarity.
My personal experiences with Taajush Shariah were such that I had questioned him on certain Masaa'il and he immediately issued answers with references from the authentic Kitaabs of Fiqh. On a certain specific occasion, I had forgotten the reference which he had given in his verbal answer, so I telephoned him a few months later to enquire about the references. He immediately quoted from memory all the references in the original Arabic.
In the field of issuing Fatawa, Allama Sahib has established a niche for himself by displaying the unusual qualities of possessing a highly retentive memory of the reference works on Fiqh; an incisive approach to the question; and applying conciseness, clarity and sagacity in producing the answers.
With regard to the Mas'alah pertaining to the excess payment of profit granted by the Banks to Muslims (which is erroneously called "Interest" in a Darul Harb), the English translation of Allama Sahib's reference to the famous Hanafiya Kitaab known as Hedaya compares more than favourably with the Orientalist Charles Hamilton's translation of Hedaya in the view of the learned Aalims.
Bareilly has gained the distinction of being the centre for the issue of Fatawa to the Sunni Muslims throughout the world, due to the exceptionally high standards set by Imam Ahmed Raza at the Darul Ifta. Today, Muslims all over the world still turn to the Darul Ifta at Bareilly with the same respect, due to the presence of a personality like Allama Azhari Sahib.
May the Almighty Allah grant the learned Allama Azhari Sahib the strength and well-being to continue to keep the fountain of A'la Hadrat's Islamic research flowing so that the future of our children becomes saturated with the light of this knowledge to keep us all on the right path. Aameen.