My Journey Through the Quran

Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi (1914-1999), also known as Shaikh Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi in the Arab world and Ustad Ebul Hasan Nedewi in Turkey and central Asia; was a renowned scholar, a prolific writer, an avid traveler, a social influencer and also a played the role of a politician priest for the Muslims of India.

Maulana Ali Miya, as he is popularly known, authored more than 50 books. He was the first Chairman of ‘Center for Islamic Studies’ at the University of Oxford, a visiting scholar at Madinah University and many other institutes of higher learning across the world. He served as the rector at his alma mater Nadwatul Ulama in Lucknow for nearly thirty years.

Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi was the co-founder and the first Chairman of All India Muslim Personal Law Board. His political stances often put him at loggerheads with governments in India, for instance the Shah Bano case during Rajiv Gandhi’s era and the Vande Mataram controversy during the time of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

(Late) Professor Mushirul Hasan, the former Vice-Chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia and a vocal critic of Maulana’s political thought wrote in his obituary[1] for the latter, “ Ali Mian, as he was popularly known, is no more. But this spiritual and intellectual mentor of the north Indian Muslims will be remembered for his piety, his profound scholarship and erudition.……within the framework of traditional Islamic scholarship, Ali Mian was perhaps the most outstanding Muslim scholar in post-1947 India. He travelled far and wide in his quest for knowledge, pursued his intellectual probing…..and eventually prepared his own blueprint for a safe and secure future for his co-religionists……He has left behind a rich intellectual legacy, although it must be carried forth in the eclectic spirit that had guided the founders of Nadwa.

This article in Urdu by Maulana Ali Miya was published in the form of a short book titled ‘Mere Quran ke Motaale ki Surgushist’ in 2017. I have attempted here to translate it into English.

Muhammad bhi Tera, Jibreel bhi, Quran bhi Tera
Magar ye harf-e-sheeree’n tarjuma Tera hai ya Mera

(Muhammad (PBUH) is thine, Gabriel Thine and Thine is the Quran
But this charming rendition is Thine or Mine?)
– Sir Muhammad Iqbal

My Journey Through the Quran

My initiation to the Quran was in consonance with the traditions prevalent among Muslim households to this day. Once fluent at reading, I spent time reciting and re-reading the holy scripture. However much to the dismay of my elders, I struggled at being regular with my recitation and learning endeavors. This changed when I was finally inducted into learning the Arabic language, and I gradually started to somewhat understand the meaning of the verses recited.

My teacher Sheikh Khaleel Bin Muhammad Arab had an exquisite liking for and devotion towards the Holy Writ. During my childhood, I remember him often praying at our mosque. The Sheikh came from the tribe about which Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had said, “The people of Yemen have the gentlest minds and softest hearts[2]. God had blessed my teacher with immense treasures of piety and sentiment; it was difficult for him to hold back his intense emotions while reading and reciting the Quran; his choked voice, the trail of tears covering his face, the melancholy and his beautiful rendition left a deep and lasting impact on me. I remember him well starting with one of the larger Surahs[3] derived from the last two of the thirty paaraas of the Quran, but often overpowered with the beauty and magnificence of the text he was forced to cut the prayers short – fellow worshippers were often left asking for more of his beautiful and powerful recital.

The beginning of my Quranic education was under his tutelage. A firm believer in the indivisible oneness of the Divine, the sheikh’s faith was pure and deep and he aimed to embolden the same conviction among his students. I am grateful to Allah for blessing me with a tutor of such impeccable integrity and pristine faith. Surah Zumar in the Holy Quran, that includes some very powerful and clear injunctions related to Tawheed[4] was sheikh’s most liked chapter of the holy book. He delivered lectures on this Surah when I started to proverbially walk with the language after the slow crawl; lectures on Surah Zumar were followed by Surah Momin and Surah Ash Shura. The sheikh had an inherent affinity towards some specific parts of these chapters. This was reflected in his enthusiasm and the emotions he personified while reading, reciting and teaching them; for example, one of these ‘parts’ were the last 10 verses (190-200) of Surah Al Imran (Abdullah Yusuf Ali’s translation)

190- Behold! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day, – there are indeed signs for men of understanding

191- Men who celebrate the praises of Allah, standing, sitting and, lying down on their sides, and contemplate the (wonders of) creation in the heavens and the earth, (With the thought): “Our Lord! not for naught Hast Thou created (all) this! Glory to Thee! Give us salvation from the penalty of the Fire

192- “Our Lord! any whom Thou dost admit to the Fire, Truly Thou coverest with shame, and never will wrong doers find any helpers!

193- “Our Lord! we have heard the call of one calling (Us) to Faith, ‘Believe ye in the Lord,’ and we have believed. Our Lord! Forgive us our sins, blot out from us our iniquities, and take to Thyself our souls in the company of the righteous.

194 – “Our Lord! Grant us what Thou didst promise unto us through Thine messengers, and save us from shame on the Day of Judgement: For Thou never breakest Thy Promise.”

195 – And their Lord hath accepted of them, and answered them: “Never will I suffer to be lost the work of any of you, be he male or female: Ye are members, one of another: Those who have left their homes, or been driven out therefrom, or suffered harm in My cause, or fought or been slain, – verily, I will blot out from them their iniquities, and admit them to gardens with rivers flowing beneath – A reward from the presence of Allah, and from his presence is the best of rewards.”

196 – Let not the strutting about of the Unbelievers through the land deceive thee:

197 – Little is it for enjoyment: Their ultimate abode is Hell: what an evil bed (To lie on)!

198 – On the other hand, for those who fear their Lord, are Gardens, with rivers flowing beneath; therein are they to dwell (forever), – a gift from the presence of Allah; and that which is in the presence of Allah is the best (bliss) for the righteous

199 – And there are, certainly, among the People of the Book, those who believe in Allah, in the revelation to you, and in the revelation to them, bowing in humility to Allah: They will not sell the signs of Allah for a miserable gain! For them is a reward with their Lord, and Allah is swift in account

200- O ye who believe! Persevere in patience and constancy; vie in such perseverance; strengthen each other; and fear Allah; that ye may prosper

As per Sahih (authentic) Hadith traditions, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) would recite these verses from Surah Al Imran before Tahajjud[5] prayers. Another Rukuh (group of verses) that Sheikh Khaleel Bin Muhammad Arab would recite often with passion was from Surah Al-Furqan (Verses 63-75)

63- And the servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth easily, and when the ignorant address them (harshly) they say (words of) peace

64- And those who spend (part of) the night to their Lord prostrating and standing (in prayer)

65- And those who say, “Our Lord, avert from us the punishment of Hell. Indeed, its punishment is ever adhering

66- Indeed, it is evil as a settlement and residence

67 – And (they are) those who, when they spend, do so not excessively or sparingly but are ever, between that, (justly) moderate

68 – And those who do not invoke with Allah another deity or kill the soul which Allah has forbidden (to be killed), except by right, and do not commit unlawful sexual intercourse. And whoever should do that will meet a penalty

69 – Multiplied for him is the punishment on the Day of Resurrection, and he will abide therein humiliated-

70- Except for those who repent, believe and do righteous work. For them Allah will replace their evil deeds with good. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful

71- And he who repents and does righteousness does indeed turn to Allah with (accepted) repentance

72- And (they are) those who do not testify to falsehood, and when they pass near ill speech, they pass by with dignity

73- And those who, when reminded of the verses of their lord, do not fall upon them deaf and blind

74- And those who say, “Our Lord, grant us from among our wives and offspring comfort to our eyes and make us an example for the righteous.”

75 – Those will be awarded the Chamber for what they patiently endured, and they will be received therein with greetings and (words of) peace.

It is as if I can still hear him reciting these verses with melancholy in his voice and eloquence in his articulation. Listening to him often, I started to like these verses too and thus started my intellectual journey with the Quran.

The furtherance of my noesis for Arabic language helped me develop an interest in reading and understanding the Quran. At that time, our family was faced with strangely atypical circumstances, where it seemed as if many verses of the Quran were manifesting themselves before my eyes and bearing testimony to God’s Universal and All-Encompassing attributes. It became evident that the rise and fall of nations, communities and tribes were in congruence with their characters and actions Verily never will God change the condition of a people until they change it themselves (With their own souls)” (Surah Ar R’ad: Verse 11).

I had reached a stage where I was convinced with utmost palpability and certitude, while reading the Holy Quran, that it is a living book of guidance for the life and times of those who are truly alive. It is like an album of life where each individual can not only see their own reflection but themselves too. The Quran says, We have certainly sent down to you a Book in which is your mention” (Surah Al Anbiyaa: Verse 10) – there have been multiple interpretations and commentaries on this verse. One of them is that it speaks directly to the reader; Hazrat Ahnaf Bin Qais (R.A), an illustrious Tabi[6]’ on hearing this verse is said to have asked for the Quran and said ‘Let me see in what words am I mentioned in the Book’. Turning many pages and reading through many verses, he stopped at a verse and said ‘I found my mention’. The verse was “And (there are) others who have acknowledged their sins. They had mixed a righteous deed with another that was bad. Perhaps Allah will turn to them in forgiveness. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful” (Surah At-Tawbah: Verse 102).

I was astounded by the profoundness of the Quran in its underlining of the causes and circumstances for the rise and fall of nations, tribes and individuals. Despite my intellectual cowardice, imperfect knowledge and limited exposure to the history of nations and tribes, this theme and the principles were conspicuous in my surroundings. This experience furthered my interest and affinity towards the Holy Quran. I remember reading with relish Surah Maaid’ahSurah Anaam and Surah Araaf in particular during those days.

I am not sure if it was just charming coincidence or a divine favor – I am inclined more to believe the latter, that my education, unlike most students pursuing religious studies, was not all clubbed into one. Also, I was introduced, taught and trained into each discipline independently. My teacher, Sheikh Khaleel, was a man of great intellect and vision. He introduced and acquainted us with the Arabic language through its literary and cultural treasures. Staring with the basic reader by the name of  Al Arabiya, we were also taught complicated texts such as Nahjatul Balaghat wa Hamasa [7] and Dalaael Al Ijaaz[8]I spent three years spending days and nights in understanding and learning Arab literature, culture and etiquette under the tutelage of my nous teacher, I thus started to develop an aptitude for deciphering the subtleties of a given text without much support. Thus was the gradual dawn of the mystifying and enchanting light of the Quran. It became a reality so distinct that no interlocution was further required. Each and every word of the text attests to its divine origins and even the collective spite and refusal of all mankind cannot alter this truth in any way.

Gaining knowledge on Arabic language and literature, I became affluent enough at Arabic to develop the right taste for the intricacies of the Quran and its uniqueness among all Arabic literary treasures I encompassed. I shall be grateful until eternity to my benevolent teacher and loving brother[9] for helping me trod this path.

Rooh e Pardam Shaad ke Farmood be Ostaaz
Farzand Mara Ishq Baya Moz Degar Haech

(Poet Unknown)

(May God bless my father’s soul who said to the teacher,
Teach nothing to my child but love)
[Translated by Akram Gholemi]

In my opinion, the teaching methodologies of our Arabic Madarsas (Seminaries) are lacking in leading to such results. The outworn existing curriculum lacks the life and soul necessary to instill this prowess. The witless and wanton syllabi at these institutions is a compilation of books ill-suited to develop the right taste for the language. It usually includes texts written by Non-Arabs in times when the prime of Arabic language, literature and culture was on the decline. It is practically unfeasible to encompass the efficacy and experience the serenity of the Holy Quran through the archaic rhetoric of these texts. Any exception to this is a mere coincidence in both logical and customary order of things.

 After graduating from Sheikh Khaleel’s course, I was lucky to gain the tutorship of Allama Muttaqi ud Din Hilaali Marakeshhi – a prominent scholar of contemporary Arabic Literature and I consider him to be the first among equals of all the masters of this genre. Later, I spent time learning Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) at Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama [10]and studied Hadith under Maulana Haider Husain Khan, a renowned DarsI Nizami [11]scholar. The maulana also taught me some parts of Tafsir Baizawi[12]Later, I travelled to Lahore to study Maulana Ahmad Ali’s exegesis of the Holy Quran directly from the man himself. Maulana Ahmad Ali was a distinguished disciple of the illustrious Maulana Abdullah Sindhi. Maulana Ahmad Ali’s elucidation and commentary of the Quran was donnishly fixated on the political philosophy of the scripture. His work did not leave much of a mark on me intellectually. However, I was deeply influenced by Maulana’s moral character and his vehement belief in the indivisibility of the Divine.

After returning from Lahore and completing my studies in Hadith, I dedicated all my time in reading and trying to comprehend various commentaries on the Quran. I forgot to mention earlier that I also scrutinized and scanned through some Quranic assessments of Sheikh ul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah[13] and the works of Maulana Hamiduddin Farahi [14]as a student. Most of my learning in these days was through tutoring myself; when in doubt, I referred to other commentaries for clarification. Prominent explications that I read word by word in those days include Al Baghawi[15]’s Ma’alim at-Tanzil, Jalal ud Din al-Mahalli[16]’s Tafsir al-Jalalayn (the tafsir was completed by al-Mahalli’s student Jalal ud Din as-Suyuti[17] after the former’s death), Allama Zamahshari’s detailed commentary of the Quran and Allama Nasafi[18]’s exegesis – I remember reading each word of the first half of his magnum opus; the other half, I glanced through.

While going through various commentaries, I realized that a single interpretation no matter how elaborate, could not suffice the grey matter for all and sundry due to the diversity in intellects and tastes. More often than not, a doubt faced by a proverbially less intelligent reader is overlooked by those with more accomplished intellects. Thus, the latter moves ahead without paying much attention to the details. Some of my qualms, while trying to understand the scripture, could not be addressed through renowned and celebrated commentaries, but through relatively obscure, little known and much less read books.  

When it fell upon my lowly being to give lectures on The Quran at Nadwatul Ulama, I had more time and good reason to dedicate my entity in reading and comparing various commentaries of the Holy Book. Allama Alusi’s commentary Rooh al Muani was of great help during this time. An experience that I would specifically like to highlight from this time was in regards with Tafseer al Kabeer[19], which has unnecessarily been infamous among the intelligentsia much to my dismay. The disgust from the commentary is such that it has also been said that ‘Everything else is true except this’. I say this with all sincerity that Tafseer al Kabeer does not deserve this disdain, and this commentary holds rare treasures that are not to be found in other less disliked and more renowned works. At this time, I happened to glance through many other writings on the Quran among which was Abu Hayaan’s [20]Tafsir Al Bahr Al Muhit, however, these did not leave much impression on my mind. Allama Rasheed Reza[21]’s Tafseer al Manaar is also an important and useful work worth mentioning here along with Arbab ul Quran, a commonly taught commentary in Madarsas.

 Maulana Abdul Majid Darybadi[22]’s exposition titled Tafseer e Majidi had not been published by that time, and the addendum in English language was being added. I happened to travel to Daryabad on certain occasions usually to discuss, clarify and seek clarity on affairs related to historical events and other religious and sectarian opinions; the excursions to Daryabad were intellectually fulfilling indeed. A lot of what was discussed with Maulana Abdul Majid Daryabadi has been recorded in his work Tafseer e Majidi; it is indeed a valuable resource for understanding the Quran, especially for those who do not have the time and convenience to delve deep into other traditional commentaries.

Upon the completion of my teaching responsibilities and retiring from that capacity, I dedicated more time in furthering my understanding of the Holy Scripture. I thus chanced upon Tafseer e Tabari[23]. I was amazed at the extent of knowledge lying within those pages. Tafseer e Tabari is a profuse documentation of the history and culture of pre-Islamic Arabia, in addition to being a detailed commentary and interpretation of the Quran. In my opinion, it is the best resource to comprehend the circumstances, social environment, context and the various stages of Quranic revelation. The possession of this commentary can rightly be classified among the highest gifts of providence.

 It’ll indeed be an act of injustice and inequity should I not mention a brilliant scholarly work. This though is not an exhaustive commentary of the Quran, but a masterly rendition in Urdu language. I am referring to Shah Abdul Qadir’s[24] Muzeh al Quran. This Urdu translation is an exceptional treasure for sincere seekers of Quranic knowledge. My assertion would certainly ring a bell with those who have waded in detail various commentaries, interpretations and analyses of the Quran and are also familiar with the archetypal toil associated with presenting the right meaning in its true context; such people will truly value and appreciate the sheer brilliance of Shah Abdul Qadir’s delineation that lays bare such strains through pertinent words bringing out the true meaning. Almost all of Quran’s Urdu translators post Shah sahib, have taken more than a cue from his work. I remember well my teacher Maulana Haider Husain Khan used to tell us with interest that late Maulana Mazhar Nanautvi (RA), the co-founder and patron of Jamia Mazahir Uloom [25]at Saharanpur would make his students read Shah Abdul Qadir’s translation after teaching various other detailed commentaries.

 Now keeping my academic experiences aside, I believe that the doors to true treasures of the Quran are opened and the curtains are lifted when one ponders over the word of God with no interlocutors in between, through regular and sustained reading of the scripture, through voluntary prayers with virtuous intentions and deeds and in the righteous company of those who live by the Quranic values of rectitude and morality. It is important that the reader should feel as if he or she is the direct addressee of the Quran. The poet has said it right,

Tere zameer pe jab tak na ho nuzool e Kitaab
Girah kusha hai na razi shib e kashaaf

(Unless the book is revealed unto your heart
Interpreters though profound, cannot expound the subtleties) 
(Muhammad Iqbal)


[1] Frontline, January 22, 2000 (Print)

[2] Reference : Musnad by Imam Ahmad Bin Hanbal (on the authority of Hazrat Abu Said al-Khudri (RA))

[3] Surah: A chapter in the Holy Quran is referred as Surah

[4] Oneness of God

[5] Pre-dawn prayers

[6] Successors of Sahaba, each Tabi’s is said to have personally known atleast one Sahabi (Sahabi: Companion of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH))

[7] Nahjatul Balaghat (The way of Eloquence) is a collection of sermons, letters, Quranic explanations by Caliph Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the fourth Caliph of Islam

[8] Dalail al-Ijaz (Proof of the inimitability of the Quran) by Abdul Qahir al-Jurjani (d1078) a prominent Muslim thinker of the eleventh century

[9] Dr. Maulana Syed Abdul Ali Hasani (Writer’s elder brother)

[10] Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama: An Islamic university founded in 1893, located in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh

[11] Dars-I Nizami – A study methodology originated and developed in the Indian subcontinent

[12] A popular classical Quranic interpretation composed in the thirteenth century by Al Baydawi

[13] Fourteenth century Islamic scholar, jurist and philosopher

[14] Twentieth century Islamic scholar from India.

[15] Abu Muhammad al Husain ibn Masud ibn Muhammad al-Farra’al Baghawi was an eleventh century Persian jurist, Hadith scholar, Quran scholar, philosopher and thinker

[16] Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Shahabuddin Jalaluddin al-Mahalli was a fifteenth century Egyptian scholar of Quran and jurisprudence

[17] Al-Suyuti was an Egyptian scholar, jurist, historian and theologian

[18] Abu Hafs Umar al-Nasafi was a twelfth century Persian historian, theologian and writer

[19] Al Tafsir Al Kabir – a 12th century exegesis and commentary on the Holy Quran by Muhammad Ibn Umar Fakhr al Din al-Razi

[20] Abū Ḥayyān Athīr ad-Dīn al-Gharnāṭī – A thirteenth century Spanish commentator of the Quran and Arabic grammarian

[21] (Allama) Muhammad Rasheed Reza (1865-1935) – An Islamic reformer and a proponent of Islamic Modernism

[22] (Maulana) Abdul Majid Daryabadi – An Indian Muslim scholar, writer and commentator of the Holy Quran

[23] An interpretation of the Holy Quran by Ninth century Persian scholar Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari

[24] Shah Abdul Qadir Dehlvi (1753 – 1815): A renowned Islamic scholar and son of Shah Waliullah Dehlvi

[25] Established in 1866, it is among the largest Islamic seminaries in North India

PADMA SHRI ISHRAT ALI SIDDIQUI- A Biographical Narrative

A Biographical Narrative

By: Dr. Zia ul Haq Choudhary

Translated by: M. Navaid Hasan

Translator’s Note

The article in Urdu was published in ‘The Collegian’, the annual magazine of Lucknow Christian
College in 2003. Padma Shri Ishrat Ali Siddiqui (1918-2014) was a student of the College during
1932-1934.
Ishrat Ali Siddiqui was my grandfather Choudhary Noorul Hasan’s cousin and during his days at
Lucknow University (1934-1936), he worked as the assistant editor at the latter’s Urdu weekly
“Paegham”.
The original author of this text Dr. Zia ul Haq Choudhary retired as a Reader from Lucknow Christian
College, where he taught organic chemistry at graduate and post graduate levels. Dr. Choudhary is
an avid reader and writer and has written on diverse subjects from chemistry to history and religion.
I am grateful to Dr. Zia ul Haq Choudhary allowing me to translate this, and to my uncle Syed Shoeb
and aunt Muneera Siddiqui for helping me understand the difficult words. My late grandmother Ms.
Habibun Nisa first read this article out to me 2003, I remember her admonishing me for not being
able to read Urdu, she’d be proud.

Mohammed Navaid Hasan

Padma Shri Ishrat Ali Siddiqui: The Shining Light of Urdu Journalism

Eminent journalist Padma Shri Ishrat Ali Siddiqui stands tall among the prominent alumni of
Lucknow Christian College. His spectacular and noteworthy career as a journalist started at the
young age of 22 and continues unabated to this day.

Realm, Birth and Education
A member of the famed Chaudhary family of Sandila – a prominent town in the erstwhile Awadh
province and now a part of Hardoi district in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Ishrat Ali Siddiqui is the 32nd
descendant of Hazrat Abu Bakr ‘Al-Siddiq’ – a distinguished companion of Prophet Muhammad
(PBUH) and the first Caliph of Islam. His ancestors migrated from Arabia to Persia (Iran) and settled
at Jam, a city in the region of Khorasan. After some years in Persia, the clan emigrated to Faaryaab
(Afghanistan) and eventually to Hindustan via Khyber Pass – taking the conventional route for
caravans entering the Sindh valley.
Shamshad Husain Faakir writes in ‘Ashfaaqnaama’ (published in 1998) that “Islam reached Sandila
and adjoining areas through Hazrat Peer Tajuddin which was likely towards the end or after
Shahabuddin Ghori’s (Muhammad of Ghor) conquest of India.” Shahabuddin Muhammad Ghori first
assailed India in 571 Hijri (1175-76 AD) and died in 602 Hijri (1206-07 AD). It can thus be stated
based on evidence at hand that this first Muslim family of Sandila has been associated with and
inhabited the place for nearly eight centuries.
Raja Durga Prasad ‘Mehr Sandilvi’ in his book Taareekh e Sandila (The History of Sandila, published
in 1915) under the heading ‘ZIkre Daakhla Ehl e Islam’ (The emergence of the followers of Islam)
writes – “My exploration based on credible historical records and archives lead me to conclude that
the first Muslim settlers of Sandila were Sheikhs and Sufis. The first among them was Hazrat Peer
Tajuddin followed by Miraan Muizuddin, followed by Qazi Sirajuddin and Syed Mahmood
Shanuzaani, the eminent Sufi Sheikh Makhdoom Syed Alauddin Quds’ life at Sandila coincides with
the latter two. Other early Muslim inhabitants and visitants at Sandila were Qazi Burhanuddin,
Sheikh Ali Lahori Nabeerah, Wazir Hashim Shah and Junaid Rouhani, and Chishti Sufi Sheikh Hazrat
Fareeduddin Shakarganj. Many Muslim families living in Sandila today have descended from these
venerable early dwellers, I shall delve in detail about these clans further ahead.” (Page 204).
Later in his book, Raja Sahib writes under ‘Khaandaan Peer Tajuddin Quds Sirra Hu’ (The
descendants of Peer Tajuddin ) “..this family traces their origin to Peer Tajuddin, who came to India
from Faaryaab (Afghanistan) and spent a major part of his life in Sandila where he died and was
buried at a high spot on the eastern side of the town. Many branches of the family continue to
inhabit Sandila, the end of this clan’s sojourn at Afghanistan as scrutinized by Chaudhary Ataullah’s
branch of the clan was the starting point of my analysis, it must be mentioned however that a few
other branches of the family claim that their ancestors migrated to India directly from Persia without
a prolonged stay in Afghanistan. Thus, due to these divergences in claims one cannot affirm with
certainty the exact year of their advent or for how long they have been here when I write this. The
family is in possession of notably detailed and obliging documentary archives though along with the
shijra (family tree), which I’ve had access to while researching for and writing this book…..” Raja
Sahib thus deducing from the archives at his disposal and counting the generations passed writes
that “….by the math thus, the family established in Sandila nearly 757 years ago i.e. the time of

Shahabuddin Ghori’s successive invasions, the writer absolves himself of any shortcomings should the
estimate vary by a decade or two – I now desire to put in place a sequential memoir of this clan –
Peer Tajuddin’s son was Peer Ahmad, who was the father of Khwaja Imamuddin, Khwaja
Imamuddin’s son was Peer Bhole father of Miya’n Achhan, Miya’n Achhan’s son was Peer Ahmad,
Peer Ahmad was the father of Miya Laad whose son called Peer Tayyab rose to prominence and was
honored through an imperial decree giving an estate of the rural area adjoining Sandila, the
hereditary title of ‘Choudhary’ and the rank of magistrate during the reign of Mughal Emperor
Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar. The family to this day is in possession of a copy of the decree dated
Zeeqad 963 Hijri (September 1556) with the imperial seal.” (Page 208-209). Further under
“Choudhary Mansab Ali”, Raja Sahib writes “I have earlier written about the family of Chaudhary
Ataullah validating that his ancestors came to India from Jam or Faryaab, and the first of his
ancestors to settle in the burgh was Peer Tajuddin, Feroz ‘Khan’, a contemporary of ‘Miya’n Tayyab’,
an eighth generation descendant of Peer Tajuddin was awarded with the title of ‘Chaudhary’ and the
estate of Pargana in rural Sandila, and the title of ‘Khan’ was also bestowed to Sheikh Feroz at this
time. It is recorded in Tareekh-e-Taluqdarana-e-Awadh that his clan was also given the title of
‘Khan’ during the reign of Emperor Akbar…..the book also mentions that the title of ‘Chaudhary’ was
originally bestowed on the clan after Timur’s conquest of Delhi, however, Hafiz Chaudhary Shaukat
Ali, a revered scholar and a venerable man of Sandila and the son of Chaudhary Masnad Ali in his
book ‘Shumraat Aala Anzaar’ refutes the Timurid link to the grant of title and considers Chaudhary
Ataullah’s indagation as more profound and reliable which traces the title to the reign of Emperor
Akbar. Sheikh Feroz’s son was Sheikh Sadar Jahaa’n whose son was Pyaare who was the father of
Abdul Rasool whose son was Meer Daa’em, Meer Daae’m’s son was Muhammad Yaar, Muhammad
Yaar’s son was Abdullah who was the father of Chaudhary Mansab Ali who had three sons –
Chaudhary Masnad Ali, Chaudhary Hashmat Ali and Chaudhary Azmat Ali. Peer Tajuddin’s family
tree has many branches, I have already mentioned the offshoot of Chaudhary Ataullah, here I will
focus on another branch to which belonged Chaudhary Hashmat Ali, a renowned and honorable
man …..” (Page 211-213). Tawareekh e Taluqdarana e Awadh by Munshi Kishori Lal and Samraat Al
Anzaar by Hafiz Chaudhary Shaukat Ali were published in 1879 and 1881 respectively.
Timur invaded India in 1398 AD (800 Hijri) by when Peer Tajuddin’s era in Sandila had long passed,
and his progeny already held eminence among both the ruling and the ruled by virtue of their
scholarly pursuits and moral fiber, they already were bestowed with the title of ‘Choudhary’ and had
administrative and magisterial authority over the area, during the reign of Akbar, Sheikh Feroz was
also awarded with the honorary title of ‘Khan’ and his son Sadar Jahaa’n held prominent positions
during under the rule of Mughal Emperors Akbar and Jahangir – a reference to which can be found
on page 162 of Syed Sabahuddin Aburrahman’s book “Bazm-e-Taimuri” (Published 1948). Raja Durga
Prasad in his book “Tareekh e Sandila” has estimated the clan’s history in Sandila to 757 years –
which comes down to 1158 AD while Ghori’s invasions started in 1175-76 AD. Raja Sahib wittingly
articulates in his defense “the writer absolves himself of any shortcomings should the estimate vary
by a decade or two”. Through this credential it can thus plausibly be determined that Peer Tajuddin’s
emergence in Sandila coincided with Ghori’s maneuvers in the subcontinent.
Through references mentioned above and information collected through other sources, I am
presenting here the family tree (Shijra) of Ishrat Ali Siddiqui
Ishrat Ali s/o Ehtisham Ali s/o Mohammed Rauf s/o Hashmat Ali s/o Mansab Ali s/o Abdullah s/o
Muhammad Yar s/o Meer Daa’em s/o Abdul Rasool s/o Sheikh Pyaare s/o Sadar Jahaa’n s/o Sheikh
Feroz ‘Khan’ s/o Muhammad Burhan s/o Mufazzal s/o Sheikh Hasan s/o Sheikh Maa’ruf s/o Sheikh
Nizamuddin s/o Sheikh Ahmad s/o Peer Tajuddin s/o Khwaja Naseeruddin s/o Khwaja Muhammad

s/o Sheikh Jahaa’n s/o Sheikh Muhammad s/o Sheikh Zayed s/o Sheikh Abul Hasan s/o Sheikh Asad
s/o Sheikh Asghar s/o Sheikh Amjad s/o Hazrat Ahmad s/o Hazrat Abdul Rahim s/o Hazrat Abdul
Rahman s/o Hazrat Qasim Faqih s/o Hazrat Muhammad (Muhammad Bin Abu Bakr) s/o Hazrat Abu
Bakr (Al Siddiq).
It is probable that in years to come someone may shed further light on the clan’s history and
genealogy. Ishrat Ali Siddiqui’s grandfather Chaudhary Mohammed Rauf’s elder brother Taluqdaar
Chaudhary Khaslat Husain (D. 1882) served as the secretary at Anjuman e Hind Subah Awadh
owing to his organizational and administrative capabilities and was also awarded with the honorary
title of ‘Raja’ in 1882. Among Ishrat Ali sahib’s other elders was Hafiz Chaudhary Shaukat Ali who
was not only a proficient scholar but an accomplished writer and an occasional poet using ‘Alam’ as
nom de plume. Hafiz Shaukat Ali also established a seminary named ‘Shaukat Ala Islam’ that
continued to impart religious education in Sandila for a long period of time. Hafiz Shaukat Ali’s father
Chaudhary Masnad Ali started the construction of Jama Masjid in Mohalla Mahatwana
(Chaudhraana) of Sandila in 1253 Hijri (1838 AD) but couldn’t see its completion due to his untimely
death in 1257 Hijri (1842 AD). The mosque was later completed under the supervision of his younger
brothers Chaudhary Hashmat Ali and Chaudhary Azmat Ali in 1259 Hijri (1844 AD). The mosque is
gorgeous and never fails to ingratiate the eye.
Adjacent to the Mohalla (Neighborhood) Mahatwana or Chaudhraana in Sandila lies Mohalla
Moulviana where lived the famous and respected Maulvi Hamdullah Sandilvi (Died 1160 Hijri- 1747
AD). About his respected family, Raja Durga Prasad in his book “Tareekh e Sandila” writes under the
heading “Khaandaan Maulana Hamdullah” that “the respected Maulana Sahib is also a descendant
of Peer Tajuddin” (Page 287-288). Among other works, Maulvi Rahman Ali’s “Tazkirah e Ulema e
Hind” (Published in 1894 AD) includes narratives on 26 other renowned scholars from Sandila, the
book is in Persian language.
Janab Ishrat Ali Siddiqui was born on October 11, 1918 in Lucknow where his mother had moved
before his birth. He attended DAV School in Sandila for primary education and passed high school
from Hardoi, he then got admitted to Lucknow Christian College and passed the intermediate
examination in 1934 and graduated from Lucknow University with Bachelor of Arts degree in 1936.

Life as a Journalist
Mr. Siddiqui started his career as a journalist in 1936, by that time the independence movement had
gained good ground. Influenced by the anti-colonial sentiment he started working as an assistant
editor at “Hindustan”, a weekly magazine started by renowned freedom fighter and independent
India’s first Minister of Communications- Rafi Ahmed Kidwai. In 1942, Ishrat Ali Siddiqui moved to
Hyderabad where he worked as an assistant editor at “Payaam” an Urdu daily established and
managed by Qazi Abdul Ghaffar, an eminent correspondent and editor of his times. He spent some
of his days at Sevagraam, where he used to prepare a bulletin for Mahatma Gandhi from Urdu
newspapers and journals from across the country, to help gauge the latter about the prevalent
socio-political mood of Urdu speaking sections of the society.
In 1945, Qaumi Aawaaz was launched in Lucknow by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, at this time Janab
Ishrat Ali Siddiqui moved back to Lucknow from Deccan and joined the news daily as assistant editor.
The first editor of Qaumi Aawaaz was Hayatullah Ansari Firangi Mahli– a renowned writer and
journalist. During 1964-65, Janab Ishrat Ali Siddiqui served as the president of UP Working
Journalists’ Union and took over as the editor of Qaumi Aawaaz after the retirement of Hayatullah

Ansari in 1972. In 1980, Associate Journalists Limited decided on rolling out Qaumi Aawaaz in three
other cities – New Delhi, Bombay and Patna; Ishrat Ali Siddiqui sahib then took over as the National
Chief Editor of the daily and until his retirement discharged his duties with integrity and astuteness
that won him accolades from his contemporaries and readers alike. Two of his weekly editorials
“Duniya ka haal” (World Affairs) and “Hindustan ka haal” (Indian Affairs) were vastly popular
primarily due to their comprehensiveness, upfront tone and pristine editorial standards. The weekly
supplement of Qaumi Aawaaz called Zamimah was also very popular among the readers owing to
the literary and cultural themes it entailed; such was the popularity of Zamimah that other popular
journals and publications started to adopt and implement similar themes.
Awards and Honors
In recognition of his contribution to literature and education, Janab Ishrat Ali Siddiqui was conferred
with “Padma Shri” by the President of India in 1974. In 1975, he was nominated as a member by the
UP Government to a committee instituted for the reconfiguration of the state’s Communications
Department. A couple of years later in 1977 he was also appointed as a member of the Samachar
Committee and further in 1980, Ishrat Ali Siddiqui sahib was designated as a Special Member to the
Second Press Commission. Later in 1981, he was designated as the President of National Media
Center in New Delhi – a body collectively established by the governments of 21 Indian states and
Union territories.
In 1983, The Organization of Understanding and Fraternity awarded him for his role and
contributions in preserving and promoting social justice and equality. Further in 1988, he was
commemorated by All India Writers and Journalists Federation’s Patna chapter in recognition of his
efforts towards nation building and inclusiveness. In remembrance and appreciation of his
contribution to India’s freedom struggle through his writings the Uttar Pradesh Government in 1992
included his name in the official list of freedom fighters and awarded him with a lifelong pension. In
the years 1994 and 1997 Janab Ishrat Ali Siddiqui was given honorary awards by Uttar Pradesh Urdu
Academy and All India Meer Academy, Lucknow respectively. He was given the Lifetime
Achievement Award by Bharat Fankaar Association, Lucknow in 1999 – the felicitation ceremony
took place at the Gandhi Auditorium of Raj Bhawan (Governor House) in Lucknow on May 11, 2000.

Travels and Politics
As a journalist Ishrat Ali Sahab interviewed many people of prominence from across the world, the
interviews were much liked looked forward by his readers. He travelled extensively across India and
abroad and visited important landmarks across the world, which in my opinion contributed to his far
sightedness and broad vision. As a journalist Ishrat Ali Sahab not only travelled to countries like
Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Iran, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, France, Pakistan, Switzerland, England and United
States but also took serious cognizance of their reportage and press. Despite being a part of media
entourages of former prime ministers Mrs. Indira Gandhi and Mr. Rajiv Gandhi, Ishrat Ali sahib’s
credibility remains unblemished by virtue of his sense of responsibility towards his profession, sharp
mind and the ability to hold his own irrespective of the constraints. It is indeed something that as a
journalist his name and character have remained unblemished invariably.
Writings and Books
Journalistic and editorial engagements did not leave much room for Ishrat Ali Sahab to write books.
However, four of his books deserve a mention:

  • Leningrad T’a Samarqand [Leningrad to Samarqand] (Published in 1940 and 1943 from
    Lucknow and Hyderabad respectively)
  • Mumalik e Islamiya ki Siyasat [The Politics of Muslim Nation States] (Published in 1940 from
    Lucknow)
  • Gandhiji aur Zubaan Ka Masla [Gandhiji and the Predicament of Language] (1980, Uttar
    Pradesh Urdu Academy, Lucknow) – (It is a translation in Urdu of English articles and
    editorials penned by Mahatma Gandhi on the then pervading language question in India)
  • Urdu Sahaafat, Sadaaqat aur Aazaadi e Raae (It is the the Eleventh Abid Husain Memorial
    Lecture he delivered in April 1994 in New Delhi, the lecture was later transcribed as a book
    in the same year)
    In March 1999, monthly urdu magazine ‘Naya Daur’ dedicated a section to the memory of Late
    Wajahat Ali Sandilvi titled ‘Gosha Wajahat Ali Sandilvi’ (Wajahat Ali Sandilvi Section), where
    Ishrat Ali Siddiqui sahib’s article christened “Wajahat, Mera Bhai Mera Yaar” (Wajahat, my
    brother and friend) was published (Page 5). Chaudhary Wajahat Ali Sandlvi (1916-1996), the
    celebrated Urdu writer, humorist and satirist was Ishrat Ali sahib’s cousin and batch mate at
    Christian College in Lucknow. Ishrat Ali Siddiqui’s article started with the couplet:
    “Majnu and I were co-travelers in the sphere of love
    While Majnu left for the desert, I was condemned to the lanes of cities”

He further wrote, “We were members of the same family, I use “were” instead of “are” as my
knowledge of our ancestors was not as vast as Wajahat’s and after graduating from university, I
never got a chance to delve deep into family history. Though Wajahat had a lineage to boast of,
he never misused the power, influence and privilege associated with the family name…”.
This article is a good example of Ishrat Ali Sahib’s ability of articulating profound thoughts in
simple yet appealing words.

Current Engagements
At 85 years of age, Ishrat Ali Siddiqui sahib is as driven and enthusiastic about writing as he always
was. He is currently the Urdu editor at “Rashtriya Samachar Features and Network” and his famous
editorials “Hindustan ka Haal” and “Duniya ka Haal” are printed in various Hindi and Urdu
newspapers managed by the network. Ishrat Ali sahib greatly values time and is disciplined about
time management, perhaps an important reason for his success.

Personal Qualities
Ishrat Ali Siddiqui sahib is a man blessed with the virtues of faith, integrity and empathy. His words,
both written and spoken are not harsh on others but a lighthouse and a source of encouragement
for those seeking the right path. He indeed is a star among Lucconians (an informal term for the
students and alumni of Lucknow Christian College) . May his pen continue to enlighten and guide
and may his star continue to shine.

The next page includes the family tree (shijra) of Janab Ishrat Ali Siddiqui and other prominent
members of the family mentioned in the text.
(It should be noted here that the family tree thus presented is not exhaustive and includes the
lineage of only those mentioned in the article. For instance, only four of Hashmat Ali’s six sons are
included in the chart, similarly only two of Choudhary Ahmed Azim’s six sons find mention so on and
so forth. For those interested in looking into more detailed and exhaustive tree should reach out
over email to navaidhasan1505@gmail.com)