Hazrat Moulana Muhammad Ilyaas Kaandhelwi (rahimahullah)
Hazrat Moulana Muhammad Ilyaas Kaandhelwi (rahimahullah) was an eminent Aalim and pious saint whom Allah Ta‘ala chose to revive the noble effort of da’wah and tableegh. Allah Ta‘ala used him to bring Deen alive not only in India, but throughout the entire world.
The father of Moulana Muhammad Ilyaas (rahimahullah), Moulana Muhammad Ismail (rahimahullah), was also a great saint and Aalim while his mother was a haafizah who possessed such love for the Qur’aan Majeed, that notwithstanding her household chores and responsibilities, she would recite no less than 40 paras daily in the month of Ramadhaan!
Moulana Muhammad Ilyaas (rahimahullah) was born in 1303 AH (1886-1944). He studied the knowledge of deen under his father and his elder brother, Moulana Yahya (rahimahullah), who was the father of Sheikhul Hadith, Hazrat Moulana Muhammad Zakariyya (rahimahullah).
When he was 10 or 11 years old, he came to Gangoh and was fortunate to remain there, in the company of Hazrat Moulana Gangohi (rahimahullah), for nine years. He was also blessed to study Sunan Tirmizi and Saheeh Bukhaari under Hazrat Sheikhul Hind (rahimahullah) in Daar-ul-Uloom Deoband.
As far as tasawwuf and sulook is concerned, Moulana Muhammad Ilyaas (rahimahullah) had first taken Hazrat Gangohi (rahimahullah) as his Sheikh (spiritual mentor). After the demise of Hazrat Gangohi (rahimahullah), he took bay’at (pledged allegiance) at the hand of Hazrat Moulana Khaleel Ahmed Sahaaranpuri (rahimahullah) who later on granted him khilaafah.
It was after Hazrat Moulana Muhammad Ilyaas (rahimahullah) returned from hajj in 1925 that he began the journeys of tableegh and commenced inviting people to join the effort of da’wah and tableegh.
When Moulana (rahimahullah) returned from hajj and noticed a rapid degeneration in the deeni condition and religious values of the Muslims of Mewat, south of Delhi, to the extent that it was difficult to differentiate between their beliefs and practices and the beliefs and practices of the kuffaar, Moulana (rahimahullah) became extremely concerned and commenced the work of da’wah and tableegh.
Hazrat Moulana (rahimahullah) felt that the only way to reform and correct the Mewatis and bring them back onto deen was through working among them and directly propagating deen to them. Thus, with great difficulty, Hazrat Moulana (rahimahullah) commenced the work of da’wah and tableegh thereby motivating and encouraging people to join in the effort.
In the initial stages, people were unfamiliar with the effort and were reluctant to respond. However, after seeing that this effort was in total conformity to the sunnah and was aimed at reviving the entire deen in the ummah at large, numerous people wholeheartedly embraced and joined the effort.
The work of da’wah and tableegh gained divine acceptance from Allah Ta‘ala. Hazrat Moulana’s (rahimahullah) efforts and sincerity bore fruit during his very lifetime, and within a few years, a peaceful revolution was witnessed in the length and breadth of India. This revolution continued thereafter and has now reached the four corners of the globe, leading to millions of people reforming their lives.
It was undoubtedly his sincerity, piety and firm adherence to deen and the sunnah that caused Hazrat Moulana Muhammad Ilyaas (rahimahullah) and his effort to gain such profound acceptance from Allah Ta‘ala.
Insha Allah, in the parts to come, we will discuss inspirational incidents which highlight Hazrat Moulana Muhammad Ilyaas’s (rahimahullah) sincerity, piety, and firm adherence to deen and the sunnah.