Allama Shibli Nomani and Nadwatul Uloom
By Afzal Usmani
On the occasion of convocation of MADARSA FAIZ-E-AAM, Kanpur in 1893 A.D.(1310 Hijri), scholars like Maulana Lutfullah Aligarhi, Maulana Hafiz Shah Muhammad Hussain Allahabadi, Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi, Maualana Muhammad Khalil Ahmad (Deoband), Maualana Sanaullah Amritsari, Maulana Noor Muhammad Punjabi, Maualana Ahmad Hasan Kanpuri, Maulana Syed Muhammad Ali Kanpuri, Shaikhul-Hind Maulana Mahmud Hasan, Maulana Shah Sulaiman Phulwari, Maualana Zahurul Islam Fatehpuri, Maualan Abdul Ghani Mau-Rashidabadi, Maulana Fakhrul Hasan Gangohi and Maulana Syed Shah Hafiz Tajammul Husain Desnavi agreed to form an organization of Ulema and convene a gathering of Ulema of the thoughts in the next annual convocation of Madarsa Faiz-e-Aam, Kanpur. They decided the name of the Organization to be NADWATUL-ULEMA. The responsibilities of the organization were given to Maulana Syed Muhammad Ali and so he became the first NAZIM of NADWATUL-ULEMA. The main object of this Association was to bring about harmony and co-operation among the different groups within the Muslim Millat, and thereby to bring about the moral, religious and educational reform and progress of the Muslims.
Nadwatul-Ulema held its first convention on 22nd, 23rd and 24th April 1894 A.D. (15th, 16th and 17th Shawwal 1311 Hijri) in Madarsa Faiz-e-Aam, Kanpur. It was attended by a huge group of scholars from all sects of the Ummah and all corners of the sub-continent including Maulana Abdullah Ansari (Founder Nazim-e-Diniyaat, MAO College Aligarh) and Shamsul Ulema Allama Shibli Nomani, who were Professor of Arabic and Persian at MAO College. Allama Shibli Nomani had already visited Rome, Syria and Egypt and have seen the Madaris of those regions and met their scholars. Allama Shibli Nomani proposed the name of Maulana Mufti Lutfullah to chair the opening session of the convention. According to Nawab Sadar Yaar Jang Maulana Habibur Rahman Khan Sherwani, Maulana Ibrahim Aaroomi and Maulvi Muhammad Hussain Batalwi were representing Ahle-Hadis (Salafi) delegation, Maulvi Ghulamul-Hasnain were representing Shia delegation. Maulana Ahmad Raza Khan Barailvi also attended the convention and in his addressed praised Malana Inayatullah, maulana Lutfullah and Maulana Ahmad Hasan. Maulana Shah Muhammad hussain presented the aims and objective of the organization and then Allama Shibli Nomani presented the Working Guidelines (Dasturul-Amal) of the organization. On the recommendation of Maulana Muhammad Husain Batalwi, this working guidelines (Dasturul Amal) was referred to a committee of scholars to discuss.
On 23th April (16th Shawwal), after maghrib prayer, a special session comprising of 30 scholars were held and each and every guidelines were discussed and finalized. On the next day, 24th April (17th Shawwal) in morning session under the chairmanship of Maulana Lutfullah of Aligarh, Allama Shibli Nomani announced the proposals;
1. The Present educational system and needs a reform.
2. Principles or their representative of all the Islamic Institutions (Madaaris) should attend the annual convention of Nadwatul Ulema.
3. A Federation of Madaaris should be formed so that all the madaaris should come under one umbrella. To implement this scheme few large Madaaris should be started which will act as a main Madrasah known as Nadwatul-Uloom and rest will be their branches. Nadwatul-Uloom will keep an eye on the activities of the branches.
4. Expansion of Madarsa Faiz-e-Aam with Hostel facility.
5. Curriculum reform ( This was proposed by Shah Muhammad Husain Allahabadi and seconded by Allama Shibli Nomani)
After this 12 scholars including Allama Shibli Nomani were named to develop curriculum
All the members of the curriculum developing committee made their proposed changes in the curriculam but Allama Shibli Nomani presented the Model of Nadwatul-Uloom. When Allama Shibli’s proposal of a Darul-Uloom was accepted by the attendees, he requested to form a Managing group and so a panel of 16 people was selected with consensus.
The founding session of Nadwatul-Ulema was concluded with final remarks and vote of thanks by Allama Shibli Nomani.