Ghazali of subcontinent: ‘Shah Waliullah was a modern social reformer’

Waliullah’s writings, books present his Sufi heritage dispelling hardliner aura

Our Correspondent March 07, 2018

ISLAMABAD: While perceived as a hardliner, 18th-century scholar Shah Waliullah was inherently a Sufi and a modern social reformer.

This was stated by speakers during a lecture on “Shah Waliullah: the scholar and Sufi” by Loyola University, Chicago, Professor Marcia Hermansen in the capital on Tuesday.

Professor Hermansen said that Shah Waliullah had grown up in a Sufi family.

During his pilgrimage, he lived in Hijaz for over a year where he met many scholars.

After coming back, he started writing, with major works including Hujjatul Balagha which combines philosophy, hadith, sociology and other such fields.

His writings, especially the books, present his Sufi elements.

As a scholar of the Holy Quran — which he had translated into Persian, he synthesised the methodologies of various segments in Muslim societies and emphasised on purposefulness.

Called a thinker of crisis, Hermansen said he placed these in the sociological and political context, thus making him a modern social reformer. His biography also makes it clear that he was a practising Sufi who was a regular at the traditional Sufic events common in the subcontinent.

Of the apparent inconsistencies in his ideas, Hermensen explained that these came about later when some writings were incorrectly attributed to him.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 7th, 2018.


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