An Ode to an Unsung Sufi Saint

2 Min
An Ode to an Unsung Sufi Saint

Fazl e Haq Khairabadi (1797-1861) is an unsung hero of the first war of Indian independence. He had signed the declaration of ‘Holy War’ against the British Government along with Maulvi Sadruddin Azurdah and others.  He stood by his fatwa announced from a Delhi Mosque, and did not allow his contemporaries to ‘save’ him from the wrath of the British rulers.

During his trial, one witness told the judge that “Khairabadi   is not the one who had issued the fatwa of jihad but someone else.” But Allama Fazl-e-Haq cut him short and told the judge “I issued the fatwa e-jihad against British government. I am still firm on my decision”.  

He was banished in 1859 to the Andaman Island, which was a penal colony in those days. The colonial masters subjected him to several inhuman cruelties, which he recorded in a book.  

Hailed as Allama Fazl-e-Haq Khairabadi, he was a Sufi mystic, poet and preacher.   He was a contemporary of Mirza Ghalib, and both were close friends. Noted poet and film lyricist, Javed Akhtar is his great grandson.

Born in the year 1797 A.D. (1212 Hijri) in Khairabad, the saint traces his family roots to Hazrat Umar Faruq e Azam. His father, Fazal Imam Khairabadi, was a reputed scholar and philosopher.  

At a very young age, he proved his scholarly credentials by taking on Ismail Dehlvi, the founder of Wahhabism (also known as Deobandism) in the Indian sub-continent. And carved out a place in the pages of history by assigning Fatwa e-Kufr to Dehlvi for his misconceptions on Imkaan-e-Kizb (God’s ability to lie).  

Khairabadi was very pious and deeply religious.  And was regarded as the Mujaddid of his time.  It is said he could recite the complete Quran e Majeed in a week. For his students he was Tahajjud-Guzar, (a person who never misses Tahajjud, the prayer at midnight).   

Imam Khairabadi had authored many books. He is credited to be the editor of Deewan-e-Ghalib. He had drafted what would have been the first constitution of liberated India. His works are preserved at the University of Chicago. Some of his books are now part of academic syllabus in Egypt.   Imam-e Mantaq-o- falsafa (Expert of Logic and Philosophy), Shamsul ulema (Sun of Aalim, Scholars) are among of the titles bestowed on him.

A few days before his death, a fellow in-mate asked him, “What have you left behind (in Delhi) before coming to Exile (in Andamans)?”   He replied: “Hadiya e Saeediya and my son Abdul Haq Khairabadi.”

Hadiya e-Saeediya is by far one of the most notable works of Allama Khairabadi.

On the day of 13th Safarul Muzaffar, (1278 Hijri/1861) Abdul Haq Khairabadi, reached Andamans with the government’s order setting his father free. As he was walking towards the cellular jail from the pier, he saw a funeral procession. It was the funeral procession of his father, who had attained his Wisal day earlier at the age of 66.

Sufis believe   that death for saint is no more than going behind a curtain and from that stage, they continue to shower their blessings on human kind. Allama Fazl-e-Haq Khairabadi was a blessed saint, indeed. ###  

—By Malladi Rama Rao.