Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Shafi (rahimahullahu ta`ala), sometimes wittily used to say 'Maulvi is a censured group’.
Why did Hazrat Mufti Sahib termed Maulvi a censured group, we shall later discuss the reasons. Let us know at first who was the founder of this Malaamti (censured) group? When did it come to existence? What were its distinctive teachings and why was it called censured or much criticized?
History shows that first of all Malaamti was a name given to Muslim Sufis born at Neeshapur in the second half of the 3rd century and beginning of the 4th century after Hijra. Two most notable names among them are Sheikh Abu Hafs Haddaad and Sheikh Hamdoon Qassaar. Before them there was not any organized group of Malaamtiya in Neeshapur. However similar beliefs were found about other sufies too.
Malaamtiya has been derived from the world ‘Malam’ or ‘Malamta’ that means to denounce, censure or reprehend’. But generally this word is used in a sense of self-denouncing or willing to be denounced by other people. This view might be taken from the verses in Surah Maida in which Allah Ta`ala described the signs of his particular people. Two of the signs are: "They wage jihad in the way of Allah and do not care for any criticism"
Reprehension or censure is the integral part of the teachings of this group. They consider ‘censure’ essential for their spiritual chastity. Three kinds of censure are described.
1) Those people who censure themselves.
2) Those who deliberately talk such things that other people censure them for.
3) Those who censure the world and people. But the third sense is against the aim and spirit of Malaamtiya group. Thus the first two meanings should be kept in mind.
A Malaamti considers ‘censure’ a good thing because:
1) It is an effective way to overcome one’s insurgent inner-self.
2) He wants that his real condition whether it is good or bad be hidden from people and known only to Allah, with Whom he wants to make real contact. A Malaamati person is claimant of nothing; Neither of knowledge and deeds, nor of piety, experience, observance and reactions. People malign him but he is happy in the heart of hearts that this scolding and censure is rectifying his actions, he is getting rid of conceit and pride thus gaining promixity to Allah. In the eyes of a Malaamity, the most important thing is Allah’s pleasure and wrath. He determines his destination or way of life not keeping in view the wishes of worldly people but Allah’s pleasure and wrath. When he hears about the annoyance of people and being condemned by them, he replies with great enthusiasm and passion.
Be all the world angry with me, I care not The approval of my Lord is all that I seek What to say about the people, they never become happy with anyone. Insane are those who determine their way of life and destination keeping in view the wishes and comments of people. These people are in a habit of finding faults with others and especially in the case of Maulvi they do not like to spare him on any account.
Hazrat Sayyed `Ataullah Shah Bukhari had cured one such lawyer. When he questioned Shah Sahib, “You, Maulvis are expert in trumping up elucidation. Tell me any interpretation that a man can eat and drink without causing harm to his saum (fast). The great orator of Asia replied, “It is quite easy. Ask anyone to strike your head with his shoe and then swallow your anger, it will not break your fast. (Note: For overcoming ones anger, the word we used idiomatically in Urdu is ‘peena’ which means ‘to drink’, as he said.
Hazrat Mufti Shafi had termed Maulvi a ‘censured group’ in the same sense that whatever a Maulvi does, people find out one or the other point of objection in their action. Thus Mufti Sahib’s spiritual successor and his son Maulana Taqi Usmani has explained the saying of his father: “If Maulvi is leading a secluded life, reciting ‘Allah’, ‘Allah’, delivering lessons of ‘Qaalallah and Qaal-ur-Rasool (what Allah and his Prophet said) then their objection is that this Maulvi is totally unaware of the world that has advanced quite a lot. What a progress the world has made in every field! The Americans have landed on moon! But the Maulvis do not bother to come out of their shell! The same out-moded talks, offer prayers! keep fast! keep your shalwar above your ankles, grow beards in size, do not watch TV, make your women observe hijab (viel)....on the other hand, they say, look at the prevailing conditions of the country. The poor are dying of starvation, common people are victims of oppression and injustices, the rulers have become dictators but despite all this Maulvi is sitting in his chamber.
On hearing such talks, if the Maulvi comes out of his closet, raise a voice of Haq (truth) before the rulers, endeavours to rectify political system, establishes a welfare organization for the impecunious Muslims, criticises USA and Russia for their overt hooliganism, then the same people raise objection, ‘What are these Maulvis up for? They ought not to do this. They should only lead prayers in mosques, teach in madaris or recite the name of Allah while sitting any secluded place. Why do they interfere in state affairs, national and international politics.
If the Maulvi is financially weak due to lack of resources and living hand to mouth than these people say, “What a hell of life it is! They have no proper house, no proper dress to wear, no vehicle even a motorcycle, no bank balance. These impecunious people can do nothing but maligning. They are living on our leftovers. That is why we do not make our children Maulvi. Where would they go after their graduating from madrasah? Where would they get bread to eat? Who would allow their daughters to marry the Maulvis?”
If Allah Almighty has blessed some Maulvi with prosperity, even then the same people do not spare him. They utter immediately, “What sort of these Maulvis are! Do they really deserve to be called Maulvi and to be respected while they move about in cars, wear precious clothes, live in splendid, luxurious houses. On the other hand the condition of the true lovers of Allah is that they eat meal of one time and look towards the door of mosque for the other time.”
Maulvis were subjected to criticism when they were away from schools and colleges, and now when they began establishing schools and colleges under their supervision, they are still maligned. If the Maulvi opposed drawing and publishing pictures and helplessly read newspapers containing pictures, they were ridiculed. Now when they have geared up to publish their own newspaper free of pictures of living beings, it is again unbearable for this sort of people........O fortunate members of censured, maligned group! When these western-minded people are on no account ready to spare you from poisonous spears of their tongues, then is it not appropriate to neglect them at all, becoming an example of the verse in Surah Maida.
"They wage jihad in the way of Allah and do not care for any criticism."