Syed Nazeer Hussain of Delhi (1805–1902), his name has many variations, it could also be Maulawi Nadhir Husain or Maulvi Nazeer Hussain of Delhi or Miyan Nadhir Husain Dehlvi and Maulavi Sayyed Nadhir Husain Dehlvi. was a leading scholar of the reformist Ahl-i Hadith movement and one of its major proponents in India. Earning the appellation shaykh al-kull (teacher of all, or the shaykh of all knowledge) for his authority among early Ahl-i Hadith scholars, he is regarded, alongside Siddiq Hasan Khan (1832–1890), as the founder of the movement and has been described as “perhaps the single most influential figure in the spread of the Ahl-i-Ḥadīth”. Among Syed Nazeer Husain’s students were Imdadullah Muhajir ,Makki, Muhammad Qasim Nanotvi and Rashid Ahmad Gangohi, the founding figures of the Deobandi movement. Although Mirza Ghulam Ahmad never studied under him. Prior to pledging his allegiance to Ghulam Ahmad and becoming his foremost disciple, Hakim Nur-ud-Din had also studied under Husain. Other students of Husain included the Afghan-Indian scholar Abdullah Ghaznavi; the two major Ahl-i Hadith proponents Muhammad Husain Batalvi and Sana’ullah Amritsari, both vociferous opponents of the early Ahmadiyya movement; and the Indian hadith scholar Shams-ul-Haq Azimabadi.The modernist founder of the Aligarh Movement and Muslim University Syed Ahmad Khan, also studied under Husain in the 1850s.
Nazeer Husain advocated political quietism and was among a large number of Muslim ulema, from both the Sunni and Shia sects, who supported British rule and rejected calls for armed jihad against it. He was also among a number of Muslim scholars, including the muftis of Mecca, who declared British India to be dar al-Islam (abode of peace) and not Dar al-harb (abode of war). During the Indian Rebellion of 1857, he resisted pressure from the mutineers to call for a jihad and instead declared in favour of British rule, viewing the Muslim-British relationship as a legal contract which could not be broken unless their religious rights were breached. Despite having denied any involvement in the rebellion in its aftermath and having strongly opposed the declaration of jihad as sinful and a faithless breach of covenant, Husain was widely believed to have been among a group of Delhi ulema pressured into signing a jihad fatwa.
Because he was seen by the British as the only scholar of the Ahl-i Hadith who could allay the conflict between the movement and followers of the prevailing Hanafi school of thought, which often resulted in civil disturbances that the Government sought to prevent, and because he also knew English which was very rare among Indian Muslim scholars at the time, Husain’s turbulent relations with the British at Delhi had improved. He was granted a letter of recommendation by the government to the British Vice Consul in Jedda when he travelled there in 1883 to perform the Hajj pilgrimage. However, he was already denounced as a Wahhabi by Indian Hanafis to the Ottoman governor of Jedda who had him arrested and imprisoned before he could present the letter. He was later released with the intervention of the British Vice Consul.
He was arrested in 1868 by the British on suspicion of being the leader of the Wahhabi insurgents in Delhi and detained for six months but was eventually released without charge after it had emerged that he had not supported the rebels. Husain consistently denied any links with the Wahhabis as well as any role in the Delhi uprising in 1857.
Within a couple of years of his release from prison in 1868, Hussain, together with Siddiq Hasan Khan of Bhopal and Muhammad Husain Batalvi (c.1840–1920), two influential fellow alumni of the Madrasah-i Rahimiyah, formally founded the politico-religious organisation known as the Jamaat Ahl-i Hadith, the Party of the People of the Hadith.
He read out MGA’s nikkah (marriage ceremony) with a Nusrat Jehan, who’s family was also Ahl-e-Hadith. MGA gave him Rs. 5 and a prayer mat.
Maulvi Muhammad Hussain Batalvi was the one of the only remaining Ahl-e-Hadith leaders who still considered MGA a Muslim, however, in this year, MGA claimed to be the Messiah and Batalvi turned on him.
MGA challenges Syed Nazeer Hussain of Delhi to a Mubahila in Amritsar, he also challenges Batalvi, Maulawi Abdul Jabbar and Maulawi Abdul Haq (see Dard).
1891, September 29th
MGA reached Delhi on September 29th, 1891, and stayed at Kothi Nawab Loharu, Ballimara.
MGA and his team publish a leaflet inviting Maulawi Muhammad Nadhir Husain or Maulawi Abu Muhammad Abdul Haq to a written debate. Maulawi Muhammad Nadhir Husain was roughly 88 years old. Maulawi Abu Muhammad Abdul Haq refused to have a written debate per Ahmadi sources (See Dard)
On October 6th, 1891, repeating his invitation to a debate as he published another announcement the Akhbar Khair Khah Hind Press, Delhi (see Dard). Maulawi Muhammad Nadhir Husain announced that a debate would be held with MGA on a certain date. MGA was invited to the place at the time of the meeting when his house was surrounded by hundreds of angry people who were hurling abuse upon MGA from the street. Thus, MGA didn’t show up to the debate.
Maulawi Muhammad Nadhir Husain seems to have published an announcement which said that his pupils, Abdul Majid and Muhammad Husain, would reply on his behalf and that MGA should address his pupils in the future (see Dard).
MGA challenged Nadhir Husain to a decisive debate. MGA suggested October 18th, 19th or 20th for the debate and offered a reward of Rs. 25 for each Quranic verse or authentic tradition quoted by his opponents which showed that Jesus (as) was still alive in the flesh in the heavens (see Dard). MGA said that at the end of this debate, he (MGA) would pray for a decisive judgment, and he believed that the wrath of God would overtake Nadhir Husain within one year on account of his transgression in misleading the people (see Tadhkirah, and The Announcement of October 17, 1891, Majmu‘ah Ishtiharat, vol. 1, p. 249). Per Ahmadiyya sources, Nadhir Husain agreed to the debate to be held on October 20th in the Juma‘ Masjid, Delhi (See Dard).
Per Ahmadiyya sources, more than 5,000 people gathered on that day in the Mosque. The
European Superintendent of the city police was himself present there with an Inspector and a police force adequate for the occasion. There was great agitation in the city. Feelings ran high and there was great tension. The 12 disciples of MGA gathered round him. Ch. Sher Muhammad, uncle to Maulawi Sher Ali, was left at the house with another friend. The 12 disciples of MGA accompanied him to the cathedral Mosque in horsedriven carriages, and there the party walked through the angry crowd straight to the mihrab and took their
seats. A little later Nadhir Husain also arrived with Muhammad Husain Batalvi and Abdul Majid.
They were seated in the adjoining veranda. It was the time of ‘Asr, all Muslims in the mosque prayed together. MGA and his disciples had did not join the prayers. Nadhir Husain declared that MGA was a Kafir, thus, a debate with him was invalid, MGA was a Kafir since he claimed prophethood and denied miracles. MGA and his team immediately denied their claim to prophethood and claimed that they believed in miracles (both lies). MGA even claimed that he believed in the Miraaj, however, he had just recently denied it in Izala Auham. MGA even had a British official make the announcement a second time. There was an uproar. The British official ordered all Muslims to leave the mosque. MGA and his group of 12 Ahmadi’s were the only ones allowed to stay. MGA and his disciples exited the mosque via the north gate, however, the carriage and driver that they had rented was gone. The superintendant of the local police also showed up. A mob scene erupted. MGA’s disciples found another carriage for hire, they escaped via British escort, Maulvi Abdul Karim traveled with MGA in the carriage and a few others, all the others walked, they were Sayyid Amir Ali Shah, Ghulam Qadir Fasih,
Muhammad Khan of Kapurthala, Hakim Fadl Din of Bhera, Pir Sirajul Haq, and six others (see Dard).
10-21-1891 and 10-22-1891
MGA wrote three letters to Maulawi Muhammad Bashir on October 21st, 22nd and 23rd
and the following points were further laid down: The debate should begin after the Friday prayers in MGA’s house. (2) Maulawi Muhammad Bashir would write the first paper. (3) Maulawi Muhammad Bashir would bring only 10 men with him. (4) Maulawi Muhammad Husain Batalvi and Maulawi Abdul Majid would not be allowed to take part. (5) Not more than five papers would be exchanged. It should be noted that it was not agreed that the papers would be
written in the meeting (See Dard).
On October 23rd, 1891, MGA had another announcement published wherein he desperately tried to explain himself foe what happened at the Jama Masjid, Delhi and the lack of a proper debate, which was printed at the Iftikhar Press, Delhi. A detailed report of everything that happened was published in a supplement to the Punjab Gazette, dated November 14th (see Dard). On the same day, MGA had another debate with Maulvi Muhammad Bashir Bhopali, who was another disciple of Nadhir Husain on a Friday (see Dard).
MGA abruptly leaves the debate. MGA breaks his own contract, which is a serious crime per the Quran. Only 3 arguments had been put forward by Maulvi Muhammad Bashir Bhopali and no response had been given by MGA and his team. MGA flees to Patiala wherein his father-in-law was ill, however, Mir Nasir Nawab hadn’t accepted Ahmadiyya yet. Patiala was 157 miles to the west, about halfway home towards Qadian (see Dard).
On roughly this day, MGA arrives with his team in Patiala at the house of Sh. Fadl Karim (see Dard). Per Ahmadiyya sources, a local imam, Muhammad Ishaq, came to see MGA and had a talk with him on the subject of the death of Jesus.The imam destroyed MGA and spread the news in the town with the comment that MGA had been defeated. In defense, MGA issue a leaflet on October 31st in which he asked the imam to have a debate with him. He waited there till November 2nd, but the mullah did not come forward. Then MGA returned to Qadian.
MGA returns to Qadian safe and sound.
The first annual Jalsa in Ahmadiyya history is held at Qadian, MGA and his team had already pre-written out “Nishan Asmani” which is read out to the less than 100 Ahmadi’s who are present. In this book, MGA talks about Batalvi and Nazeer Hussain. MGA calls him Miyan Nadhir Husain (See Asmani Faisalah, page-1, online english edition). MGA mentions Miyan Nadhir Husain 22 times, he mentions, and Muhammad Husain Batalawi 29 times. Per Ahmadiyya sources, the book itself was published in the early part of 1892, by May at the latest (see Hidden Treasures).
MGA and his team publish “Nishan Asmani”, Mian Nadhir Hussain is mentioned 9 times.
MGA mentions Nadhir Hussain in his book “The Truth Revealed”, “Sachai Ka Izhar”.
MGA claims that he has Nadhir Hussain sign a edict of Kufr vs. his own disciple, Syed Muhammad Hussain Batalvi.
MGA publishes “”Dafi‘ul-Bala’ Wa Mi‘yaro Ahlil-Istifa”””, English Version “””Defence Against the Plague and a Criterion for the Elect of God”””, wherein he mentions his debate with Nadhir in 1891 as well as the fact that Nadhir was the first cleric to sign his stamp of approval of MGA’s apostacy.
‘Tofha Golarviyyah is published. MGA mentions Nadhir Hussain.
Syed Nazeer Husain died on 13 October 1902 in Delhi. MGA is happy about this and in classic fashion backdates a fake revelation. As can be seen, this wasn’t published uyntil 2 weeks after Nadhir Hussain died, however, 20 years later Mufti Muhammad Sadiq claims that MGA got the revelation on August 15th, 1902 (See Zikr-e-Habib), Mirza Bashir Ahmad also commented that the words of this ilham also point to the year* of his death (See Tadhkirah). The reference is to the al-Hakam, vol. 6, no. 39, October 31, 1902, p. 7–10:
[Arabic] The leading ones will be driven to their graves.
[Arabic] One who was in error has died a rebel.
In Haqiqatul Wahy, Nadhir Hussain is mentioned 11 times. MGA claims that he published a sign in the early versions of the Braheen e Ahmadiyya wherein Maulawi Nadhir Husain of Delhi would issue a verdict proclaiming me (MGA) a disbeliever, however, on closer research, the sign doesn’t seem to exist. In fact, the word Nadhir doesn’t exist in the first 4 volumes of the Braheen.
Braheen e Ahmadiyya volume 5 is published, Nadhir Hussain is mentioned once.
Links and Related Essays
Syed Nazeer Husain’s Fatwas were collected posthumously by some of his students into two large volumes called fatawa Naziriyya. Other written works by him include the following:
- Mi’yar al-haq (Criterion for Truth; Urdu)
- Waqi’at al-fatwa wa dafi’at al-balawi (Event of the Fatwa and Defence Against the Affliction; Urdu)
- Thabut al-haq al-haqeeq (Proof of the Veritable Truth; Urdu)
- Risalah fi tahli al-nisa bi al-dhahab (Treatise on the Adornment of Women with Gold; Urdu)
- Al-masa’il al-arba’a (The Four Issues; Urdu)
- Falah al-wali ba ‘itiba’ al-nabi (Felicity for the Saint in Following the Prophet; Persian)
- Risalah fi ibtal ‘amal al-mawlid (Treatise on the Erroneousness of the Practice of Mawlid; Arabic)