A Biographical Sketch Of Hazrat Sayyid Ahmed ibn Muhammad Berelwi RahmatulLahi ‘alaih
Born in 1786 C.E. in Rai-Berelwi, Uttah Paradesh, India.
His noble father’s name was Sayyid Muhammad Irfan, an ‘Alim of immense stature.
He was a direct descendent (36th in line) of the Holy Prophet salla’lLahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, through his grandson Hasan ibn ‘Ali radiAllahu anhum.
His ancestors started arriving in India around 1211-1236 C.E. and begun spreading the light of Islam.
On the 6th of June 1831 C.E. the Imam fought a jihad against the Sikhs in Balkot, Afghanistan, and became a martyr along with 9,000 other mujahideen.
His Murshid was the Imam of his time in India: Shah Abdul ‘Aziz, Muhadith-i-Dehlawi.
One of his murid ‘Abdul Ahad reported that during his lifetime, around 40,000 Hindus and non-Muslims took shahadah in his blessed hand!
His three most prominent khulafah where:
Shah Sufi Nur Muhammad Nijampuri
Mawlānā Karamat ‘Ali Jaunpuri
Of the three, Hazrat Karamat ‘Ali was the only one who did not take part in any jihad against the Sikhs or the ruling British Raj, as he was ordered by his Murshid to go to Bengal (present day Bangladesh) and guide the people to Islam and implement the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet salla’lLahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, as opposed to the prevalent customs and cultures of the time.
A Miracle (Karamah)
An incident is recorded regarding the noble Sayyid while he was residing in Calcutta: there was once a man who had an obsession with alcohol. One day this fellow came to the presence of the Imam and asked if he could give baya’ to the Imam, but begged to be given the chance to continue with his drinking as he felt he would die without it!
The Imam answered, “As you wish, however you must promise never to drink in front of me”.
Having made his promise to the Imam, the person then gave baya’ and went on his way home.
Once home, he ordered his servant to bring him alcohol, and while holding his drink in his hand, he was about to touch the glass to his lips, when he saw the Imam right in front of him! Shocked by the sight, he dropped his drink.
As soon as the glass smashed on the floor spilling the alcohol, he realised the Imam was no longer there! So he begun to get more alcohol, and like before, as soon as he brought the alcohol next to his lips the Imam appeared right in front of him, and again he dropped it on the floor with the same result, the Imam had disappeared!
Feeling a little freaked, he locked all the doors and windows in his house and once again begun to take the alcohol and again the Imam stood right in front of him! As soon as he dropped it, the Imam was nowhere to be seen!
In the end, out of despair, he took the rest of the alcohol and went into the toilet, reasoning the Imam wouldn’t be there. But to his surprise the Imam stood right in front of him!
Realising that where ever he goes to drink, the Imam would be ‘watching’ him, he got rid of all the alcohol in his house and went straight to the Imam and fell at his feet and begged for forgiveness and promised he would never touch alcohol again!
A Slur Against The Noble Sayyid
His enemies accused him of being a ‘Wahabi’, however, he was far from it, the jihad he waged against the Sikhs was solely to defeat non-Muslims and bring peace and Islamic rule to what was once Muslim-India before the British went in and murdered the Muslim Mogul Emperors.
His intention was to defeat the British Raj and free the Muslims in Hind from kufr rule.
It is an irony that a descendent of the Messenger of ALlah salla’lLahu ‘alaihi wa sallam can be even called a ‘Wahabi’!
Today, his intellectual and spiritual descendents are all over India, especially in Assam and in Bangladesh, if he was (as is claimed) a ‘Wahabi’, then his so-called ‘Wahabi’’-influence should have passed onto them, yet we observe those pure Sunni Muslims following a Madhhab and belonging to a Ţariqāh and observing the Mawlid, hardly the actions of a would be ‘Wahabi’!
AlhamdulilLah, the Messenger of ALlah salla’lLahu ‘alaihi wa sallam told us to hold onto his household in times of darkness, as they are the shining examples for us to follow.
Main source: Mawlānā Husam ud-Din Chouduri, 2004, Chutoder Sayyid Ahmed Berelwi (‘The Life Of Sayyid Ahmed Berelwi For Youngsters’), Parwana Publications, Dhaka.