ʿABD-AL-RAḤĪM DEHLAVĪ, late Mughal scholar and the father of Shah Valīallāh (q.v.; d. 1138/1726). Born about 1053-54/1643-44, ʿAbd-al-Raḥīm was the second of three sons of Vaǰīh-al-dīn, a military officer of remarkable courage and integrity in the army of the Mughal emperors Shah Jahān and Awrangzēb. ʿAbd-al-Raḥīm first studied law (feqh) and tradition (Hadith) with his father (Ḥayāt-e Valī, pp. 174-75). He also studied with his older brother, Abu’l-Reżā, but his most prominent teacher in theology and philosophy was Mīrzā Zāhed Heravī, who taught him when ʿAbd-al-Raḥīm was only eleven. After finishing his formal education at the age of twelve he began teaching and subsequently established a madrasa which was named Raḥīmīya after him. At the same time, he embarked on the Sufi way; even earlier, at the age of nine or ten, he had started the practice of ḏekr, i.e., intense concentration on the name of Allāh.
He asked Ḵᵛāǰa Ḵord, son of the illustrious Naqšbandī Shaikh Bāqī Bellāh, to initiate him formally as his disciple, but the latter excused himself on the ground that he was not very meticulous about observing the šarīʿa rules and that the young ʿAbd-al-Raḥīm would do better to adopt another shaikh as his spiritual master, preferably one of the disciples of Ādam Bennawrī. He then went to one Sayyed ʿAbdallāh, who admitted him to his discipleship (Anfās al-ʿārefīn, p. 39; cf., Ḥayāt-e Valī, p. 180). Sayyed ʿAbdallāh asked his new disciple to substitute the ḏekr of “there is no god but Allāh” (called nafy o eṯbāt) for that of “Allāh;” this ʿAbd-al-Raḥīm was able to achieve, but only after a considerable difficulty. He died in Delhi on 12 Ṣafar 1131/3-4 January 1719 after a protracted illness aggravated by his insistence on observing the fast of Ramażān even after his health had become precarious.
Shah Valīallāh made strong assertions about his father’s accomplishments; e.g., “I consider the total knowledge of all the ʿolamāʾ in the world, compared to my father’s, like a drop compared to the ocean” (Ḥayāt-e Valī, p. 175). ʿAbd-al-Raḥīm helped compile the massive law code, Fatāvā-ye ʿĀlamgīrī, and he wrote many Persian maktūbāt (unpublished).
Shah Valīallāh, Anfās al-ʿārefīn, Lucknow, 1335/1917; Urdu tr. by Moḥammad Fārūq Qāderī, Lahore, 1394/1974.
Raḥīm Baḵš Dehlavī, Ḥayāt-e Valī, Lahore, 1392/1972.
Originally Published: December 15, 1982
Last Updated: July 14, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 2, p. 141