Works on Quranic SciencesBy Maulana Ḥamīduddīn Farāhī
Maulana Farahi was born in Phreha (hence the name “Farahi”), a village in the district of Azamgarh (Uttar Pradesh, India). He belonged to a distinguished family, and was a maternal cousin of the famous theologian-historian Allama Shibli Nomani (1858-1914).
After studying Arabic, Persian, and Islamic sciences with several prominent religious scholars - Shibli Nomani was one of them - Maulana Farahi, about twenty years of age, secured admission to the reputed Aligarh Muslim College in order to study modern disciplines of knowledge. His recommender was Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan (1817-1897), the founder of the college. In his letter addressed to the principal, Sir Sayyid wrote that he was commending him a young man who was a greater scholar of Arabic and Persian than the professors of the college. While a student at the college, Farahi rendered parts of the At-Tabaqat al-Kubra of Abu Abd Allah Muhammad ibn Sad az-Zuhri (784-845) into Persian. The translation was found to be so good that Sir Sayyid had it included in the collage syllabus. Farahi obtained his B.A from AIlahabad University. Maulana Farahi as a teacher:
For the next many years, Farahi taught Arabic at various institutions, including Aligarh and Dar-ul-Ulum, Hyderabad. During his stay in Hyderabad, Farahi conceived the idea of establishing a university where all religious and modern sciences would be taught in Urdu. The scheme he prepared for this purpose later materialized in the form of Jamiah Usmaniyyah, Hyderabad. He subsequently came to Sara-e-Mir, a town in Azamgarh, where he took charge of the Madrasa-tul-Islah (”School for Muslim Reform”), an institution based on the educational ideas of Shibli Numani and Farahi. Farahi had served as chief administrator of the school since its inception, but other engagements had until now kept him from becoming actively involved in its affairs.
From 1925, when he came to Sara-e-Mir, to 1930, the year of his death, Farahi devoted most of his time and energy to managing the affairs of the Madrasa-tul-Islah and teaching there. A few students-Amin Ahsan Islahi was one of them – received special training from him; they were supposed to become the bearers of his thought.
An erudite scholar, Farahi commanded knowledge of a number of languages, among them Hebrew and English. He learnt Hebrew from the German Orientalist Josef Horovitz (1874-1931) who was professor of Arabic at the Aligarh Muslim College Horovitz studied Arabic with Farahi.
Maulana Farahi’s chief scholarly interest was the Quran, the focal point of all his writings. His main contribution in the field of Qur’anic studies has been the development of the theory of Niẓām i.e. thematic unity - every chapter of the Qurʾān has a specific theme around which all elements of the chapter are woven. According to the concept of niẓām, the Qur’an being coherent means that it has an overall theme (and) each chapter has a theme. The whole book and every chapter of it are connected in how they present those themes. In other words, niẓām refers to the order of the Qurʾān, and the sequence of its arguments and statements, in relation to the theme of the whole Qurʾān, then to the order of different groups of chapters, then the order of elements within each sūrah in each group.”
Most of his published works are in the form of notes that were later complied by his students. Among his books, besides the three already mentioned, are:
Mufradat al Quran (”Vocabulary of the Quran”),
Asalib al Quran (”Style of the Quran”),
Jamhara-tul-Balaghah (”Manual of Quranic Rhetoric”) and
Iman fi Aqsam il Quran (”Study of the Quranic Oaths).
The Muqaddimah, or the Introduction, to this tafsir is an extremely important work on the theory of Nazm-ul-Quran. He also started writing his own exegesis, or tafsir, of the Quran which was left incomplete due to his death in 1930. However, we have gathered some of his tafseer works in this bookshelf for our readers to benefit from
Acknowledgement from other scholars:
Imam Farahi is well known to most scholars of the sub-continent, who have acknowledged his outstanding contribution to Islamic thought and learning.
Maulana Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi writes, “It has been generally accepted that in recent times, very few have reached the position that Allama Farahi has been blessed with by the Almighty as far as deliberation on the Qur’an is concerned. He has spent the major portion of his life pondering on the meanings of this Book, and has written such a masterful commentary on the Qur’an that it is difficult to find its parallel even in the early period”
Maulana Shibli Nomani writes, “It is generally believed that a talented person can in no way remain unknown to the world. Experience as well as history bear testimony to this. However, each rule has an exception. Maulvi Hameed Uddin … is a good example of such an exception … In this age, his treatise “Tafseer Nizaam-ul-Quran” is as essential and beneficial to Muslims as pure water is to the thirsty and exhausted.”
Maulana Syed Sulaiman Nadvi writes, "The Ibni Taimiyah of this age has died on 11 November 1930 — someone whose brilliance is very unlikely to be surpassed now and whose comprehensive command of oriental and occidental disciplines is a miracle of this era. A profound scholar of the Qur’an … a unique personality … an embodiment of piety … an unfathomable sea of knowledge … an institution within himself … a literary genius … a researcher of prodigious intellect … It is a matter of great sorrow that such a brilliant personality graced the world and then perished, but the world could not recognize its grandeur"
Maulana Manazir Ahsan Gilani writes, “The revivalist movement launched by Shah Wali Ullah [in the eighteenth century], in recent years has drawn inspiration from “Tafseer Nizaam-ul-Qur’an” the work of a distinguished scholar, Maulana Hameed Uddin Farahi. Among other features of this commentary (i.e. relationship between the Qur’an and the Bible, and various literary discussions), its salient feature is the unprecedented attempt in it to bring out the coherence between the verses. It is this coherence which sometimes provides enough evidence that the Qur’an is a Divine Book.”
Maulana Abdul Majid Daryabadi writes, “In this age, Allama Hameed Uddin Farahi is the most outstanding personality as far as Qur’anic Studies are concerned. He not only occupies a distinguished position among the scholars of recent times, but, in fact, has discovered some new principles for the interpretation of the Qur’an. The foremost among them is his philosophy of coherence in the Qur’an.”
Ustadh Noman Ali Khan, Bayyinah Institute, USA highly commends Maulana Farahi's works too.
Dr. Israr Ahmed explaining the works of Imam Farahi regarding the Nazm of Quran
Other relevant books:
Other books by Maulana Farahi (or about his works):