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My Shaykh Zia Ur Rahman as I Knew Him

The following article is written by Shaikh Zulfiker Ibrahim Memon and at the request of Muslim World Journal, the Shaikh kindly agreed to allow us to independently publish it. The article is originally written on Shaikh Zulfiker’s social media pages. You can follow Shaykh Zulfiker Ibrahim Memon on Facebook and Instagram.

الحمد لله الذي أرسل رسوله بالهدى ودين الحقّ ليظهره على الدّين كلّه وكفى بالله شهيدًا، وأشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وحده لا شريك له، وأشهد أن محمدًا عبده ورسوله صلى الله عليه وعلى آله وأصحابه أجمعين. أمّا بعد

All Perfect & Complete Praise with Love and Veneration is Exclusively for Allāh Alone. May the Praise of Allāh be Exalted for His final Messenger and seal, Muḥammad (ﷺ), in the most Noble and Highest of Gatherings, and may His Peace also descend upon him. As to what proceeds:

It was narrated on the authority of Abū Hurayrah that Rasūlullāh (ﷺ) said:

‏”يُقْبَضُ الْعِلْمُ، وَيَظْهَرُ الْجَهْلُ وَالْفِتَنُ، وَيَكْثُرُ الْهَرْجُ.” قِيلَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ وَمَا الْهَرْجُ فَقَالَ هَكَذَا بِيَدِهِ، فَحَرَّفَهَا، كَأَنَّهُ يُرِيدُ الْقَتْلَ.‏”‏

“(Sacred) Knowledge will be taken away (by the death of ʿUlamāʾ) ignorance [in religion] and afflictions will appear; and harj will increase.” It was asked, “What is harj, Yā Rasūlullāh?” He replied by beckoning with his hand indicating “killing .”1

It was narrated that:

“‏لَمَّا دَفَنَ زَيْدَ بْنَ ثَابِتٍ حَثَى عَلَيْهِ التُّرَابَ، ثُمَّ قَالَ: هَكَذَا يُدْفَنُ الْعِلْمُ”

“When Zayd b. Thābit was buried Ibn ʿAbbās threw a handful of soil over his grave and said: This is how knowledge is buried .”2

al-Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Ṣalaḥ [d.643 Ah] mentioned the couplet:

“‏أهل الحديث هم أهل الرسول فإنلم يصحبوا نفسه أنفاسه صحبوا‏

“The ahl al-ḥadīth are the true followers of the Rasūlullāh (ﷺ) even though they did not accompany him physically they associate themselves with him following him.”3

Today, on the 9th Dhū al-Ḥijjah 1441 AH, corresponding to 30th July 2020, after ṣalāh al-ẓuhr, our Shaykh, al-ʿAllāmah Muḥammad Ḍiyāʾ al-Raḥmān al-Aʿẓamī’s son, confirmed that our Shaykh had passed away before the ṣalāh al-ẓuhr. The janāzah of the Shaykh would be performed in the Prophet’s Masjid later on during the day after ṣalāh al-maghrib.

Today is a day of extreme sadness.

The ahl al-ḥadīth in al-Madīnah, the blessed city of our Prophet (ﷺ), feel that we have become orphans. We would say amongst ourselves, as students of knowledge, who adhere to the ahl al-ḥadīth madhhab that in Makkah we have our Shaykh, Waṣī Allāh ʿAbbās and in al-Madīnah we had, our Shaykh Ḍiyāʾ al-Raḥmān al-Aʿẓamī [d.1441 Ah]. Words cannot describe how we are feeling.

Our link to our akābir [Senior Scholars] of the Sub-Contnent, was through these two major Scholars, in the two most blessed and sacred cites of the Muslim world Makkah and al-Madīnah, transmitng back to Shaykh al-Islām Nadhīr Ḥusayn [d.1320 Ah].

You can follow Shaykh Zulfiker Ibrahim Memon on Facebook and Instagram.

Both these Mashaykh are giants in ḥadīth and they have devoted their lives to serve ḥadīth and defend it and call the people to act upon it. Both these Scholars had no influenced of any blind-following of any madhhab or calling to it, rather they were the continuous product of the legacy of Shaykh al-Islām Nadhīr Ḥusayn Dehlawī. Their madhhab like the Ḥanafiyyah and Ḥanbalīyyah, was the madhhab of ahl al-ḥadīth. The people of ḥadīth.

I was blessed by Allāh to study and complete the entire Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī and Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim in the Prophet’s (ﷺ) Masjid with Shaykh Ḍiyāʾ al-Raḥmān al-Aʿẓamī, for which he granted me, al-ijāzah khāṣah (specific permission).

We had started Sunan Abī Dāwūd and had currently stopped at the Book of Ṭahārah, Section: Intercourse Without Ejaculaton, Ḥadīth: 219; This was the last ḥadīth he taught before Coronavirus swept the world and forced us into lockdown.

During my studies with the Shaykh on Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, the Shaykh and I would discuss the narrators of al-Bukhārī and he would tell me to read:

رجال البخاري

Rijāl al-Bukhārī by Kalābādhī [d.380 Ah].

رجال صحيح البخاري

Ḥal Muskilāt al-Bukhārī by al-ʿAllāmah Abū al-Qāsim Banārsī [d.1949]

We would discuss in detail the fiqh of Imām al-Bukhārī [d.256 Ah] and his manhaj (methodology) and him being the leading jurist [sayyīd al-fuqahāʾ (سيّد الفقهاء)] of the ahl al-ḥadīth of his time. That which I benefited from in his lessons, in al-Bukhārī, was the distinguishing principles he taught us on how the ahl al-ḥadīth differed with the ẓāhirīyyah and using Imām al-Bukhārī as a prime example.

I compiled over 300 benefits from the Shaykhs lesson just on Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī alone. Many of these benefits I read to him personally. When I showed the Shaykh, he expressed his happiness and told me to publish them in Arabic and English.

The benefits can be divided in the following sequence:

  1. On the narrators
  2. On the text (matn)
  3. Fiqh rulings derived
  4. Fiqh of Imām al-Bukhārī 
  5. The manhaj of Imam al-Bukhārī in deriving rulings and refuting others
  6. General benefits. 

This was also done for Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim.

Our Shaykh would do frequent comparisons and critque at times of the chapter headings of the great Scholar al-Nawawī [d.676 Ah].Before we started Sunan Abī Dāwūd, upon my request at the end of Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, our Shaykh was considering what to teach us, he decided to teach us the great book of fiqh of the madhhab of the ahl al-ḥadīth, Sunan Abī Dāwūd.

And upon my request we discussed many times the great depth of this book, just covering fiqh, where as al-Bukhārī and Muslim were more broad, covering many subjects. The Shaykh decided to write an explanation to it and he showed me many transcripts of it, I would review it with him and he would ask my humble opinion of it.

We were preparing the Ijāzah for Sunan Abī Dāwūd and our Shaykh Ḍiyāʾ al-Raḥmān al-Aʿẓamī had known that I had read the whole of Sunan Abī Dāwūd to his Shaykh in India, al-ʿAllāmah Ẓahīr al-Dīn Mubārakpūrī [d.1438 Ah], so he asked for a copy of my Ijāzah to review the transmission and make an Ijāzah for all the students which was once again another honour Allāh had given me.

I had requested the Shaykh to have private lessons with him since he started teaching us al-Bukhārī but he would smile and excuse himself and say, ‘I have no time, I am too busy, I want to write and complete this before I die.’

I had heard from other professors at Madīnah University that they had also tried convincing the Shaykh to teach them, but the Shaykh was too stern and it would be a miracle if he said yes, as he was too busy in his projects.

Finally after waiting for over 5 years and constantly requesting him, he saw my devotion and allowed me once a week for over two and half hours to study with him.

I started to read the text of al-Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Ḥajar [d.852 Ah] ‘Nukhbah al-Fikr’ with his explanation ‘Nuzhah al-Naẓar Sharḥ fī Tawḍīḥ Nukhbah al-Fikr fī Muṣṭalaḥ Ahl al-Athar’ on muṣṭalaḥ al-ḥadīth, while making a comparison of what our Shaykh had written ‘Muʿjam Muṣṭalaḥāt al-Ḥadīth wa laṭāʾif al-Asānīd’.

“Al Jami’ al-Kamil fi al-Hadith al-Sahih al-Shamil” compiled by Shaykh Zia Ur Rahman Azmi

We would read the definitions, make a comparison and hold long discussions. I completed 3 quarters of the book and due to the lockdown we stopped. The amazing thing about these private lessons, I was honoured to have recorded all of them.

In our first lesson, he saw me playing with the recording equipment, he proceeded to ask me what I was doing, I showed him that I was recording the lesson, he smiled and said you will keep this as memories and today they have become the most precious thing I have from him, my interaction with him, one to one.

My memories with the Shaykh are many and I plan to release a detailed biography of our Shyakh as he told me many stories about his personal life in our private meetings.

It is known that the Shaykh did not write references for students, but due to the love and trust he had for me, a student from the University in his final year approached him and the Shaykh excused himself, so the student came to me knowing that I am close to the Shaykh.

I spoke to the Shaykh and he said ‘Do you vouch for him’ I said ‘Yes that which is apparent and he wrote the tazkīyyah for that student, al-Ḥamdu lillāh on my request.

When those who attend my lessons from the UK came I would tell them to attend the Shaykh’s lesson and we, teacher and students, would attend. I would take them to meet the Shaykh, he would express so much happiness that it cannot be described. He once expressed his wish for me to teach ḥadīth and defend it like Shaykh al-Islām Nadhīr Ḥusayn Dehlawī. This was the best duʿāʾ he gave me, Allāh make me like these ahl al-ḥadīth scholars.

The absolute distinguishing feature of the Shaykhs lesson was his discussion on the ʿillah al-qādihah and ʿillah khafiyyah.

When the Shaykh would get into the issue of ruwāt and ʿillal, whether it was the ʿillal of isnād or the matn, many of the students who used to attend especially, from the faculty of sharīʿah, would become lost at the advanced nature of discussion.

Following our lessons the students would go to the Shaykh and request he speaks about the fiqh of ḥadīth, rather than ʿillal. However we graduates of the faculty of ḥadīth would disagree and say to the students of sharīʿah that the Shaykh was the only one able to teach ʿillal in such a manner. 

Other Mashāykh could teach it but not as advanced as the Shaykh. Shaykh Ḍiyāʾ al-Raḥmān al-Aʿẓamī was distinguished in this sense. This was the methodology on how the scholars of ḥadīth in the Sub-Continent teach, with great depth. 

On one occasion I went to the Shaykh and requested. As your son I must urge you to carry on teaching in your normal way’, i.e teaching ʿillal. Your lessons are unique due to this’. The Shaykh acknowledged this and carried on teaching this way. This was the hallmark of the Shaykh’s lessons, this is what made his lessons unique.

The last occasion I spoke to our Shaykh was before he was admitted in hospital I was researching on a narration that can be found in the book, ‘Majmūʿ al-Zawāʾid’ by Nūr al-Dīn al-Haythamī [d.807 Ah], my research was concluded and its chain was authentic, but I was not confident, whether it met the conditions of al-Haythamī so I discussed my conclusion with the Shaykh and he concurred with my conclusion, which gave me respite and confidence. 

The Shaykhs’ most important book which he authored was ‘alJāmiʿ al-Kāmil’ in 12 volumes, which is the first edition, published by Dār al-Salām, and it is considered an encyclopaedia of authentic Ḥadīth. It took him nearly 20 years to finish this book.

Allāh grant our Shaykh Jannah and unite him with Rasūlullāh (ﷺ) and Imām al-Bukhārī in Jannah

Written by the poor, weak, slave of Allāh, hoping for the Mercy of His Rabb: Zulfiker Ibrāhīm Memon: 9th Dhū al-Ḥijjah 1441 AH, corresponding to 30th July 2020. The Prophet’s City, al-Madīnah al-Nabawīyyah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.


  1. Recorded in: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, The Book of Knowledge, Section: Whoever gave a religious verdict by 1 beckoning or by nodding, Ḥadīth: 85, Page: 106, Volume: 1, Published by: Dār al-Salām, Printed in: 1997.
  2. Recorded in: Muṣannaf ʿAbd al-Razzāq, The Book of al-Janāzah, Section: Pouring Soil, Ḥadīth: 6580, Page: 376, Volume: 3, Published by: Dār al-Tāṣīl, Printed in: 1432.
  3. Recorded in: Ṭabqāt al-Fuqahāʾal-Shāfiʿīyyah, Page 357, Volume: 1.

You can follow Shaykh Zulfiker Ibrahim Memon on Facebook and Instagram.

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About the author

Zulfiker Ibrahim Memon

Shaikh Zulfiker Ibrahim Memon is a UK born scholar from Madinah University.

All contributions on Muslim World Journal are independently shared by the admin of Muslim World Journal on approval of the Shaikh.

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