Written by Translated and Adapted from Sharf Uddin Islahi's Dhikr Farahi by Tariq Mahmood Hashmi
Sunday, 20 June 2010 08:46
Hafiz Ahmad Ali Sakruri
The first name among the teachers of Farahi known to history is that of Hafiz Ahmad Ali of Sakrur. Farahi memorized the Holy Qur’an under his direction. Relevant archives of history do not contain much about his person more than his name. In the society of those times, memorizers of the Qur’an and religious teachers were held in high esteem. Though Farahi belonged to a well-off family, he opted for memorizing the Qur’an first and was guided in this regard by Hafiz Ahmad Ali.
Mawlavi Muhammad Mahdi Chatarvi
Mawlavi Muhammad Mahdi Chatarvi taught the Persian language to Farahi. He belonged to Chatarah, a town situated relatively far away from Pharihah, Farahi’s home town. Chatarah is a prominent town in the entire district. It has produced many scholars whose names we find in the annals and biographies. Still however we find little information about the life and circumstances of Mawlana Mahdi. Like his student, Farahi, the Mawlana loved to remain in anonymity. Mawlana Mahdi was not only a religious scholar and teacher but also an accomplished poet. Though we learn that he taught Farahi Persian, however, in the received reports there is nothing to indicate whether this teacher had any role to play in making Farahi a poet and had any share in the flowering and development of his taste for poetry in general. Farahi started doing poetry in early age. He could compose odes in the style of the classical Persian poets even when he was only sixteen years old. We can hold that it was the influence and training of Shibli Nu‘mani behind this early flowering of his poetical taste Farahi exhibited yet it can be safely held that Mawlana Mahdi too had a great role in this development through his training and teaching. There are two prominent aspects of the person of Farahi, that of a scholar and a literary figure. One may question the influence of Mawlana Mahdi on Farahi as a scholar but one must acknowledge the influence of the Mawlana on shaping and carving his literary taste and acumen. Here it suffices to say that in the development of Farahi’s mastery of the language and his poetical abilities Mawlavi Mahdi played a key role. In the present age, when a good taste for the Persian language is virtually non-existent, it may not be possible to weigh the importance of this expertise. But a hundred years back, when the Persian language was the academic language in the Indian sub-continent, it was necessary for one to have full understanding of this language. It was considered necessary for one to have sound knowledge of this language if one aspired to be acknowledged as a literate person. The elite families spoke Persian. As Sajjad, Farahi’s son, puts it, people could become judges and arbitrators by merely studying Arabic and Persian. It was more in demand than English.
Among the teachers of Farahi, Shibli holds the most significant position. Shibli was Farahi’s cousin. He taught Farahi in private and in person. After completing formal education, Shibli would teach and instruct the children of the family before being ushered into a profession. Among the known students of Shibli, Farahi was the most prominent. Shibli had completed his religious studies (dars-e nizami) under great and famous teachers of the time. He taught all the traditional disciplines to Farahi. He instructed young Farahi in basic Arabic and Islamic studies.
Whatever Farahi learnt and the way he learnt it under the tutelage of Shibli defined the paths the former had to take in future to a larger extent. In short, it was the training and instruction of Shibli which set the foundations of Farahi’s thought. Shibli was not only an eminent religious scholar, he was also a great poet and literary figure. Both the teacher and student would exchange their poetical composition though we do not know whether Shibli trained Farahi and corrected his works. Some early incidents indicate that Farahi would present his poetry to his teacher. When at the age of sixteen, Farahi composed his first Persian ode he was studying under Shibli in Azamgarh. This means that Farahi consulted his teacher and sought his guidance in this regard too.
In the following read the profile of Faizul Hasan, the Arabic teacher of Hamiduddin Farahi.