EMDĀD-ALLĀH ḤĀJĪ (b. Thana Bhawan, India, 1233/1817, d. Mecca, 1317/1899), spiritual guide and scholar. He belonged to a scholarly family of Fārūqī shaikhs. In 1249/1833 he went to Delhi, where he joined the reformist circle of Moḥammad-Esḥāq Dehlavī (1192-1257/1778-1841; Metcalf, pp. 71-72). At Dehlavī’s urging he rejected his given name, Emdād Ḥosayn, and took what was regarded as the more religiously correct name, Emdād-Allāh, by which he is known. In 1263/1846 he undertook the ḥajj and visited Moḥammad-Esḥāq, who had by then emigrated to Mecca. He also sought spiritual guidance from the heirs of Sayyed Aḥmad Barelvī (q.v.), who until his death in 1246/1831 had led a military movement along the mountainous frontier of northeastern India directed mainly against the Sikh rulers of the Punjab (Metcalf, pp. 52-63). Emdād-Allāh himself is widely believed to have participated in the 1274/1857 uprising against the British, after which he emigrated permanently to Mecca (ʿAlī, p. 122).
Although based in Mecca, Emdād-Allāh continued as spiritual guide to many of the most important ʿolamāʾ of northern India, among them the leading figures associated with the reformist Dār al-ʿOlūm at Deoband (q.v.). Indeed, the entrance gate to this important school is known as Bāb-e Emdād in his honor. His relationships with his disciples were sustained by visits from them, correspondence, and publications in poetry and prose. He initiated his disciples in all the major orders then current in India, namely the Češtī Ṣāberī and Čestī Neẓāmī, Qāderī, Naqšbandī, Naqšbandī Mojaddedī, Sohravardī, and Qoddūsī orders (Elāhī, II, pp. 105-11).
Emdād-Allāh was part of the transitional generation that effectively made Urdu the primary language of poetry, correspondence, and prose generally, while many of its members also continued to write in Persian. His Persian works include Żīāʾ al-qolūb (1282/1865), on the practices of the Češtīya order; Waḥdat al-wojūd (1299/1881), on the doctrine of the “unity of being” promulgated by Ebn ʿArabī (q.v.); Golzār-e maʿrefat, which includes both Persian and Urdu verse on spiritual and mystical matters; and Marqūmāt-e emdādīya, his letters in Persian. His main motive for continued use of the Persian language was, however, his passionate attachment to the Maṯnawī of Jalāl-al-Dīn Rūmī, which he taught in Mecca and commented on in his Ḥāšīya (Cawnpore, 1314-21/1896-1903), also in Persian (Bazmee Ansari, p. 1174). His Urdu writings, like his Persian, focused primarily on issues of Sufism, among them the Ḡeḏā-ye rūḥ, the Toḥfat al-ʿoššāq, and Eršād-e moršed. His most widely circulated work was probably Fayṣala-ye haft masʾala, a reformist analysis of customary mystical practices which could be interpreted as bedʿa and šerk.
Two widely available reprints of his writings are Kollīyāt-e emdādīya (Karachi, 1977) and Marqūmāt-e emdādīya (Delhi, 1979).
R. ʿAlī, Taḏkera-ye ʿolamāʾ-e Hend, Karachi, 1964, pp. 122-24.
A. S. Bazmee Ansari, “Imdād Allāh” in EI2 III, pp. 1174-75.
A. M. ʿA. Elāhī, Taḏkerat al-Rašīd, Meerut, India, n.d. (1972).
M. A. Gīlānī, Sawāneḥ-e qāsem, Deoband, India, 1955-56.
B. D. Metcalf, Islamic Revival in British India: Deoband 1860-1900, Princeton, N.J., 1982.
M. Mīān, ʿOlamāʾ-e Hend kā šāndār māẓī IV, Delhi, 1960.
M. A. Šerkotī, Ḥayāt-e Emdād, Karachi, 1965.
A. ʿA. Tahānavī, Karāmāt-e emdādīya, Deoband, India, n.d.
(Barbara D. Metcalf)
Originally Published: December 15, 1998
Last Updated: December 13, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. VIII, Fasc. 4, pp. 412-413