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Dr Mohammad Mustafa Azmi: Life and Works

Dr Mohammad Mustafa Azmi: Life and Works
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Abid Qayoom Mir

Dr. Mohammad Mustafa Azmi (1932-2017), the renowned and famous Islamic scholar died on 20th December, 2017 at the age of 85. He was one of the leading experts on Islamic literature in the world. He had studied from famous educational institutes of the world like Darul uloom Deoband (India), Jamiya Azhar (Egypt), and Cambridge University (UK). He did his doctorate from Cambridge University on the topic “Studies in Early Hadith Literature”. Dr. Azmi served in many famous universities and educational institutes of the world both as teaching and visiting faculty which include Ummul Qura University (Mecca), Visiting Scholar at University of Michigan (Ann Arbor); Visiting Fellow at St. Cross College (University of Oxford); King Faisal Visiting Professor for Islamic Studies at Princeton; and Visiting Scholar at University of Colorado (Boulder). He was also an Honorary Professor at University of Wales. Besides all this, he was also a recipient of world`’s famous and prestigious award known as Shah Faisal Award for his contribution in the Islamic Studies. He was writer of many books, essays, and research articles which served as a source material for the students/scholars of Islamic studies. Dr. Azami lectured in hundreds of seminars and conferences organized by different universities throughout the world. He was well aware and familiar with the literature of the Orientalists in which they questioned about the authenticity and reliability of the Hadith. He is regarded as one of the first Muslim scholars who scholarly, brilliantly, and scientifically refuted the claims and allegations of western writers and orientalists which they leveled against this Islamic legacy. He critically investigated the writings of famous orientalists like Ignác Goldziher, David Margoliouth, and Joseph Schacht and refuted their claims against Islam.

Whenever in past Muslims faced any challenge from western writers and orientalists, scholars from Indian sub-continent didn’t remain silent and thus came forward to play their role to overcome from the misunderstandings. Similarly Dr. Azami authored many books in both English and Arabic. His works were translated in different languages. Studies in Early Hadith Literature, is one of the famous books authored by him. This book is actually his doctorate dissertation. In this book he has highlighted historical narrative of compilation of Hadith which according to him began during the life of Prophet SAW and not after a hundred or two hundred years as believed by Munkireen a Hadith. Another important book on the same pattern is Studies in Hadeeth Methodology and Literature. This book deals with the methodology used to check the Hadith`s authenticity and non-authenticity. Both these books in general serve as the reference books in the various universities of the world. Arabic version of Studies in Hadeeth Methodology and Literature, in particular, is included in the syllabus of Islamic University of Medina Munawara.

Besides these two important books, he has authored another important book relating to the Quran namely, “The history of the Quranic text from revelation to compilation”. This book is an attempt from the author to highlight many historical ways and methods used by the companions of the prophet to record and preserve the divine book of Almighty. A complete account of steps taken by different Caliphs to preserve the Holy Quran has been provided in this book. He also provided a detailed list of those companions who took part in the preservation and compilation of the Quran directly or indirectly. In the preface of this book, Dr. Azami writes that the necessity to write the book was in response to Journalist Toby Lester’s article which had been published in the Atlantic Monthly( January 1999). In his article, Lester had attempted to create confusion among Muslims about the authenticity of the Quran. He had claimed that the Quran as the unadulterated book of Allah is not capable of defending this view scholarly and thus posed a biggest challenge to the Muslims. Dr. Azami took this challenge and answered him by this book. In this book, he scholarly rejects all the claims of Lester that the authenticity of the Quran is fake. In the same way in this book, he had also rejected all the allegations against the Quran and its authenticity, raised by other orientalists and their influenced Muslim writers.

Furthermore Dr. Azami has written a book, namely “On Schacht’s Origins of Muhammadan Jurisprudence” in which he answers all questions raised by the noted Orientalist Joseph Schacht against Islamic Jurisprudence. He has authored many other notable books mostly relating to the science of Hadith and its other aspects. Some of them are, Kitab Nabi, Sahih Ibn Khuzema, and has ably edited many books like Mawata Imam Malik, Sunan Ibn Ma`ja and manuscript of Saheeh Al-Bukhari.

In short, Muslim world lost a great Muslim scholar who authored many books and without whom it was not possible for the Muslims to become aware of many other books of Hadith. May Allah grant him highest ranks in Jannat and forgive his sins.

The author has done Masters in Islamic Studies from the IUST. He can be reached at

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