FARANGĪ MAḤALL (FERANGĪ MAḤAL), family of Indian Muslim teachers, Hanafite scholars, and mystics active over the last 300 years. The family claims descent, through the well-known 11th-century Persian Hanbalite scholar and Sufi poet ʿAbd-Allāh Anṣāriī (q.v.) Heravī, from Abū Ayyūb Ḵāled Anṣārī (d. ca. 52/672), host of the Prophet Moḥammad at Medina (Hāšemī, pp. 20, 124-30; Beaurecueil, tr., p. 38; Walī-Allāh, ʿOmda, fol. 1b; M.-Ḥ. Anṣāri, pp. 16, 37, 384). During the Timurid invasion of Persia and Afghanistan ʿAlāʾ-al-Dīn Heravī, a descendant of ʿAbd-Allāh in the nineteenth generation, went to India and stayed with relatives at Barnāwa in the present Meerut district of Uttar Pradesh (M.–Ḥ. Anṣārī, pp. 23, 373), where he also died; his son Neẓām-al-Dīn migrated to Sehālī, a village in the present Barabanki district. Neẓām-al-Dīn and his descendants became reputed as teachers, scholars, and saints (M.-H. Anṣārī, pp. 41-42). One of the latter, Qoṭb-al-Dīn Sehālwī, was among the foremost scholars of the 17th century and the author of many books; he was murdered in a quarrel on 19 Rajab 1103/6 April 1692 (M.-Ḥ. Anṣārī, p. 48), and his library was burned. In compensation the Mughal emperor Awrangzēb (1068-1118/1658-1707) allotted a building in Eḥaṭa Čerāḡ Bayg in Lucknow to his sons Moḥammad Asʿad and Moḥammad Saʿīd, who assembled the family there. The building, formerly occupied by a European trader, was known as Farangī kā Maḥall (Palace of the European), and the family subsequently became known as Ferangī Maḥal (ʿAlī, p. 167; Āzād Belgrāmī, p. 209; Abu’l-ʿAlā).
A third brother, Neẓām-al-Dīn Moḥammad (ca. 1089-9 Jomādā I 1161/ca. 1678-7 May 1748), was, like his father, fluent in both Arabic and Persian and had full command of all branches of learning subsumed under the headings māʿqūlāt (rational) and manqūlāt (traditional; Āzād Belgrāmī, pp. 209, 220; ʿAlī, pp 167, 241; Walī-Allāh, ʿOmda). He composed a large number of works, mostly commentaries and scholia (ḥawāšī) on standard religious and philosophical books (M.-Ḥ. Anṣārī, p. 26). His main contributions, however, were to turn the Farangī Maḥall into a major center of religious learning and to develop the curriculum, Dars-e neẓāmī, balancing the two branches of learning; it became standard throughout India and is still followed in most madrasas on the subcontinent. Neẓām-al-Dīn and Moḥammad Saʿīd’s son Aḥmad ʿAbd-al-Ḥaqq (19 Rajab 1103-9 Ḏu’l Ḥejja 1167/27 March 1692-27 September 1754) were disciples of the famous Qāderī Sufi saint ʿAbd-al-Razzāq of Bānsa, and the family has remained closely linked with him throughout its history.
Neẓām-al-Dīn’s son ʿAbd-al-ʿAlī (1142-12 Rajab 1225/1729-13 August 1810) and great-nephew the logician Moḥammad Ḥasan (d. 3 Ṣafar 1209/30 August 1794) were more inclined toward rational subjects, and in reply to a taunt of rationalists by the scholar saint ʿAbd-al-ʿAzīz of Delhi ʿAbd-al-ʿAlī wrote Resāla al-arkān al-arbaʿa on jurisprudence; ʿAbd al ʿAzīz was so much impressed by the erudition embodied in it that he addressed the author as Baḥr-al-ʿOlūm, the epithet by which he became universally known. Baḥr-al-ʿOlūm wrote on all branches of maʿqūlāt and manqūlāt, in Arabic and Persian; his books totaled more than 100, some comprising several volumes. In mysticism he followed the doctrine of waḥdat-al-wojūd (lit., unity of being) propounded by Ebn al-ʿArabī (q.v.) and, from this perspective, wrote a remarkable commentary on Maṯnawī-e maʿnawī by the Persian poet Jalāl-al-Dīn Rūmī. He taught in several cities and died in Madras.
Moḥammad Ḥasan’s writings consist mainly of commentaries and scholia on such philosophical works as Moḥebb-Allāh Behārī’s Sollām-al-ʿolūm, Maḥmūd Jawnpūrī’s Šams al-bāzīḡah, and those of Mollā Ṣadra Šīrāzī. In the same and succeeding generations Aḥmad Anwār-al-Ḥaqq (1155-26 Šaʿbān 1236/1742-29 May 1821) was more inclined toward mysticism. Moḥammad Mobīn (1157-22 Rabīʿ II 1225/1744-27 May 1810), a grandson of Aḥmad ʿAbd-al-Ḥaqq, was one of the most prolific authors in the family; the total of his works, mainly commentaries and scholia on standard texts, was second only to that of Baḥr-al-ʿOlūm. Nūr-al-Ḥaqq (d. 23 Rabīʿ I 1238/8 December 1822), son of Aḥmad Anwār-al-Ḥaqq and a pupil of Bahr-al-ʿOlūm, excelled in all branches of learning and was a distinguished teacher, as was Moḥammad-Ḥasan’s brother Mo ḥammad-Walī.
Among distinguished Farangī Maḥall scholars of the 19th century were Ẓohūr-Allāh (1174-17 Rabīʿ I 1256/1760-19 May 1840), who was particularly renowned as a teacher; the writers Wālī-Allāh (1182-Ṣafar 1270/1769-November 1853) and ʿAbd-al-Ḥalīm (21 Šaʿbān 1239-29 Šaʿbān 1285/21 April 1824-15 December 1868); the scholar saints ʿAbd-al-Walī (1189-22 Šaʿbān 1279/1775-12 February 1863), Borhān-al-Ḥaqq (Moḥarram 1214-Moḥarram 1295/June 1799-January 1878), and ʿAbd-al-Razzāq (23 Ḏu’-ḥejja 1236-25 Ṣafar 1307/19 September 1821-21 October 1889); and the brothers Neʿmat-Allāh (d. 3 Moḥarram 1290/3 March 1873) and Raḥmat-Allāh (d. 17 Jomādā I 1305/1 February 1888). The latter founded the Čašma-ye Raḥmat madrasa at Ḡāzīpūr in Uttar Pradesh, which remains an important educational institution today. The most distinguished member of the family in this period was, however, Moḥammad ʿAbd-al-Ḥayy, son of ʿAbd-al-Ḥalīm (26 Ḏu’l-qaʿda 1264-29 Rabīʿ I 1304/24 October 1848-26 December 1886), who, though he lived only thirty-nine years, left more than 100 books (most listed in Brockelmann, GAL S II, pp. 857-58) and is still renowned for his erudition. Among surviving manuscripts by ʿAbd-al-Ḥayy are Ḵayr al-ʿamal fī tarājem ʿolamāʾ Farangī Maḥall and Ḥasrat al-ʿālam, both in the Jamāl Mīān Ferangī Maḥlī collection, Karachi. Other noteworthy scholars contemporary with ʿAbd-al-Ḥayy were Moḥammad-Naʿīm (d. 23 Rabīʿ II 1318/20 August 1900) and ʿAbd-al-Wahhāb (d. 2 Moḥarram 1321/31 March 1909).
The family has maintained its traditions in the present century. ʿAbd-al-Bāqī (b. 18 Rajab 1286/24 November 1869) spent most of his life in Medina and wrote at least nineteen books (see, e.g., Takmīla-ye Ḵayr al-ʿamal, Jamāl Mīān Ferangī Maḥlī collection, Karachi; photocopy Mufti Reżā collection, Farangī Maḥall, Lucknow). His student Qīām-al-Dīn ʿAbd-al-Bārī (q.v.; 1295-1344/1878-1926), in addition to being a great scholar and prolific author, was among the foremost leaders of the struggle against British rule in the subcontinent. His contemporaries ʿAbd-al-Majīd and ʿAbd-al-Ḥamīd were erudite scholars and teachers. ʿAbd-al-Aḥad Šamšād, Barakat-Allāh Reżā, Moḥammad-Ḥosayn Matīn, Amān-al-Ḥaqq Anwār, and Enʿām-Allāh Enʿām were well-known Urdu poets.
The present generation of the family has turned toward modern professions and are active as journalists, university professors, surgeons, and engineers. The women of the family are active in modern education.
ʿAbd-al-Bārī, Āṯār al-owal, Lucknow, n.d. Idem, Ḥasrat al-mostaršed, MS Lucknow, ʿAbd-al-Barī Academy Library. ʿAbd-al-Ḡaffār, Asrār al-ʿālīa fī manāqeb al-wālīa, Moḥammad-Reżā Anṣārī collection, Farangī Maḥall, Lucknow. Moḥammad ʿAbd-al-Ḥayy, Ḥawašī hedāyat al-awwalīn, Lucknow, 1289/1872; repr. Lucknow, 1290/1873.
Idem, al-Fawāʾed al-bahīya fī tarājem al-Ḥanafīya,Benares, 1967.
Idem, al-Ṭaʿlīq al-momajjed, Lucknow, 1982.
Idem, Seʿāya fī kašf mā fī šarḥ al-weqāya, Lahore, 1408/1987a.
Idem, al-Nāfeʿ al-kabīr, Karachi, 1407/1987b.
Abo’l ʿAlā, Resāla-ye qoṭbīya, ms., Muftī Reżā collection, Farangī Maḥall, Lucknow. R. ʿAlī, Taḏkera-ye ʿolamāʾ-e Hend, 2nd ed., Lucknow, 1332/1914.
Ḡolām-ʿAlī Āzād Belgramī, Maʾāṯer-e kerām, Agra, n.d. (1971).
ʿAlāʾ-al-Dīn Barnāvī, Češtīya beheštīya, MS Šayḵūpūra, Uttar Pradesh, Moḥammad Aḥmad collection. S. de Beaurecueil, Khwādja ʿAbdullāh Anṣārī: Mystique hanbalite, Beirut, 1965; tr. R. Farhādī as Sargoḏašt-e Pīr-e Herāt Ḵᵛāja ʿAbd-Allāh Anṣārī Heravī, Kabul, 1355 Š./1976.
Moḥammad b. Aḥmad Ḏahabī, Ketāb taḏkerat al ḥoffāzá, 3rd ed., 4 vols., Hyderabad (Deccan), 1955-58.
ʿAbd-al-Ḥayy Ebn ʿEmād, Šaḏarāt al-ḏahab fī aḵbār man ḏahab, 8 vols., Cairo, 1351/1931-32.
Ebn Rajab Baḡdādī, Ketāb al-ḏayl ʿalā Ṭabaqāt al-ḥanābela, ed. M.-Ḥ. Faqī, 2 vols., n.p. (Cairo), 1952-53.
Elāhī Baḵš Anṣārī, Golzār-e Anṣār, MS Lucknow, Moḥammad-ʿAtīq Ferangī Maḥlī collection. Enʿām-Allāh, Tatemmat Aḡṣān al-arbaʿa, Lucknow, 1298/1881.
ʿEnāyat-Allah, Taḏkera-ye ʿolamāʾ-e Farangī Maḥall, Lucknow, 1928.
Ṭ. Hāšemī, Sīrat-e mēzbān-e rasūl: Ḥażrat Abū Ayyūb Anṣārī, Lahore, 1983.
Ḵalīl-al-Raḥman, Toḥfat al-aḥbāb, MS Lucknow, Amīr ud Daula Public Library. M.-Ḥ Anṣārī, ʿOlamāʾ-ye Farangī Maḥall, Lucknow, 1990.
M. A. Qasem, Destruction or Peace, Calcutta, 1975.
Alṭāf-al-Raḥmān Qedwāʾī, Aḥwāl-e ʿolamaʾ-e Ferangī Maḥall, Lucknow, 1907.
Rāzī-al-Dīn Maḥmūd, Aḡṣān al-ansāb, MS Lucknow, Moḥammad-Rezā Anṣārī collection. J. ʿA. Reżwān, Professor Walī al-Haqq Ansari, Lucknow 1990.
Wali-Allāh Farangī Maḥallī, ʿOmdat al-waṣāʾel, MS Lucknow, Moḥammad-Reżā Anṣarī collection. Idem, al-Aḡṣān al-arbaʿa, Lucknow, 1298/1881.
(Muhammad Wali-ul-Haq Ansari)
Originally Published: December 15, 1999
Last Updated: December 15, 1999