Shah Waliullah Award

Prof. Obaidullah Fahad, Head, Deptt. of Islamic Studies, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh receives 13th Shah Waliullah Award

To commemorate the outstanding services of Hazrat Shah Waliullah and to promote the Islamic values, the Institute of Objective Studies instituted an Award known as “Shah Waliullah Award” to honour eminent scholars who have done outstanding work in Social Sciences, Humanities, Law and Islamic Studies. The Award is in the form of a cash of one Lakh rupees, Memento, shawl and a scroll of honour containing citation which is given annually to the best scholar of the year. The scheme was started in 1999. The scheme is administered by an independent Board which nominates a Panel of Experts consisting of eminent scholars to identify and recommend the scholar to be honoured. The subject or the field of the Award is decided by the Board for each year. The first Shah Waliullah Award (1999) was conferred posthumously on Maulana Syed Abul Hasan Ali Hassani Nadvi (R.A), popularly known as Maulana Ali Mian, on 3rd of November, 2000. The second Shah Waliullah Award was conferred on Janab Qazi Mujahidul Islam (R.A), the renowned Islamic scholar and an authority on Islamic Fiqh. The third Shah Waliullah Award was conferred on Prof. M. Nejatullah Siddiqui, an authority in the area of Islamic Economics and Islamic or Interest-free banking. The fourth Shah Waliullah Award was presented posthumously to Hazrat Maulana Mohammed Shihabuddin Nadvi (R.A.) on 27th March, 2004, who made an outstanding contribution in the field of Qur’anic Uloom. The fifth Shah Waliullah Award was conferred on Prof. Mohd Yasin Mazhar Siddiqi, the renowned scholar on Historiography in Islamic Perspective on 24th September, 2005. The sixth Shah Waliullah Award could not be conferred because there was no unanimity on the candidate, nor an appropriate standard of excellence in the candidate available. The seventh Shah Waliullah Award was conferred on Prof. Tahir Mahmood, the renowned scholar on Islamic Law on 11th July, 2009. The eighth Shah Waliullah Award was conferred on Dr Maulana Taqiuddin Nadvi, the renowned scholar on Hadith literature on February 26, 2011. The ninth Shah Waliullah Award was conferred on Dr. Mohammad Khalil Abbas Siddiqui, the renowned scholar on Social Anthropology in Islamic Perspective on December 15, 2012. The tenth Shah Waliullah Award was conferred on Maulana Syed Mustafa Refai Nadvi Jilani on August 23, 2014. The eleventh Shah Waliullah Award was conferred of Maulana Syed Rabe Hasani Nadvi, Reactor, Nadwatul Ulema, Lucknow on August 01, 2015 and the twelfth Shah Waliullah Award was conferred of Mr. Syed Iftekhar Gilani on April 03, 2017. The thirteen Shah Waliullah Award was conferred of Prof. Obaidullah Fahad on September 27, 2019. The topic for the next Shah Waliullah Award is “Islami Dawah”. Further, under essay writing competition (for junior category) the Institute invites yearly the young scholars and researchers to submit the essay on the topic/subject (to be decided each year). The essay on the topic “Shah Waliullah’s Approach to the Qur’an” for the year 2002 written by Janab Mahboob Farogh Ahmad Qasmi of Darul Uloom Deoband was considered as the best for the award, while the topic of the essay for the second award was “Human Rights in Islamic Perspective” and the essays written by Ms. Najmus Sahar Tahsin S. of Chikmaglur (Karnataka) and Mufti Md. Serajuddin Qasmi of Islamic Fiqh Academy, New Delhi were considered as the best for the award jointly, while the topic of essay for the third award was “Intra-Community Dissension and the unity of the Muslim Ummah” and the essay written by Mr. Anis Ahmed Falahi, Jamiat-ul-Falah was considered as the best for the award. The topic for the fourth award was “Constitutionalism in Islamic Perspective” and the essay written by Prof. Faizan Mustafa and Dr. Afroz Alam was considered as the best for the award and the topic for the fifth award was “Education in Islamic Perspective” and the essay written by Ms. Najussehar and Mr. Kefayetullah was considered as the best for the award and the topic for the sixth award was “Media, Society and Indian Muslims” and the essay written by Dr. Nasheed Imtiaz was considered as the best for the award and the topic for the seventh award was “Political System in Islam Relevance to Modern Time”. The topic for the next essay writing competition is “Islami Dawah and Call for the Modern Age”.

Rules relating to the conferment of the Shah Waliullah Award

  1. The Award will be administered by an autonomous Board appointed by the Governing Council of the Institute of Objective Studies.
  2. The Board shall nominate a Panel of Experts to identify and recommend the recipient of the Award. The Panel shall consist of at least three eminent scholars from disciplines or fields in which the Award is to be given. The composition of the Panel will change every year according to the discipline or field in which the Award will be given.
  3. The subject or theme of the Award shall be determined by the Board in each year.
  4. Only Indian citizens shall be eligible for the Award.
  5. The Institute of Objective Studies shall solicit the opinion of scholars, heads of university departments and the ulama for nominating the recipient of the Award.
  6. If the work of a nominated scholar happens to be in a language other than Urdu, Arabic and English the publications will be required to be submitted along with a brief summary in English for the consideration of the Panel of Experts.
  7. Self-nomination shall not be entertained.
  8. The bio-data of the scholars nominated for the Award should be submitted as per the prescribed format.
  9. While making the nominations, the totality of the work of the nominated scholar would be kept in view.
  10. The recipient of the Award will not be eligible for the award for the second time for the next 5 years.
  11. Nominations should be accompanied by a brief bio-data of the nominated scholar and at least two of his/her works, which are supposed to constitute his/her most important contribution.
  12. The decision of the Board regarding the selection of the awardee shall be final.
  13. The Board may defer or withhold the Award in a given year, if nobody is found suitable for the Award.
  14. In a situation where there is no clear nomination for the award, or where the opinions of the proposers are divided, or where the person nominated by the Board for the Shah Waliullah Award declines the award, the Shah Waliullah Award Board will have the authority to nominate an eminent scholar for the award.
  15. The Award may be given posthumously, provided the death of the nominated scholar has not occurred more than five years before the last date prescribed for submission of nominations.

Shah Waliullah: An Introduction

Shah Waliullah (1703-1763) was one of the most outstanding Muslim scholars of eighteenth century India. He was a rare polymath who made highly original and seminal contributions to a variety of Islamic disciplines, including the translation and exegesis of the Qur’an, Hadith, Fiqh, historiography, Kalam, Tasawwuf and Islamic philosophy. He played a pioneering role in the revival and regeneration of the intellectual, moral and cultural legacy of Islam and thereby influenced and inspired several generations of Muslims in the Indian subcontinent. One of the most important and enduring contributions of Shah Waliullah relates to the Holy Qur’an. Four distinctive but interrelated dimensions of his approach to the Holy Qur’an and his contributions to Qur’anic studies are noteworthy. He emphasized the pivotal role of the Qur’an in the Islamic ethos and considered it incumbent on every Muslim to understand its meaning and message. Realising that a majority of Muslims in India were not sufficiently conversant with the Arabic language, he undertook a translation of the Qur’an into Persian. Subsequently, two of his sons rendered the Qur’an, on the basis of his Persian translation, into Urdu, the lingua franca of Muslims in large parts of the country. These translations paved the way for the translation of the Holy Qur’an into other vernacular languages. Shah Waliullah firmly believed that religious instruction in Islamic madaris should begin with the learning of the Qur’anic text, followed by its translation and explanation of difficult words and passages as well as a brief commentary in the local language. He believed that this should form an inseparable part of the curriculum of Islamic madaris. He realized, to his dismay, that the scholars and ulama of his times were deeply enamoured of Greek philosophy and attached undue importance to philology and grammar. He cautioned them against the insidious consequences of this preoccupation and urged them to turn instead to the fundamental sources of Islam – the Qur’an and Hadith – which alone could provide a true understanding of Islamic teachings and principles. Shah Waliullah was acutely aware of the need to interpret and project the teachings and principles of Islam in the contemporary academic and literary idiom. He worked out, for this purpose, a comprehensive and cogent system of Islamic philosophy and scholasticism based essentially on the edifice of the Qur’an and Hadith but presented in the idiom and style of his time.

14th Shah Waliullah Award
“Dawat Towards Islam”

The last date for receipt of nominations is 15 February, 2020.

A Note on the Theme of the Award

Calling to Allah and His Din (Islam) is referred to as “Dawah”. Study of the Qur’an and Sunnah reveals that Dawah is of two types:

1. Muslim Ummah should be told of the duties and responsibilities made incumbent on them in the light of the teaching of the Qur’an and Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad Rasul Ullah (PBUH).

2. The guide (Da’ai) must convey the true spirit of Islam to the creatures of Allah through logical dialogue. In order to perform these twin big duties, the Da’ai should be a perfect Alim. He must be an ideal embodiment of wisdom, truth, tolerance, firmness, humility and compassion. Moreover, he must be strictly following himself the teachings he is imparting. The eighteenth century guide of Islam, Hazrat Shah WaliullahMohaddisDehlavi R.A., (February 10, 1703-August 20, 1762), possessed all such qualities.

HazratMohaddisDehlavi R.A. was witness to the time which was marked by political upheaval, intrigues, tyranny, confusion and the defiance of central power. Those rulers who ascended the throne during that time were weak and incompetent. Among them, Mohammad Shah of India was the only ruler who ruled for a long period, from 1719 to 1748. Thus he had enough time to pay attention to reforms and stability, but he proved to be weak and inept. Owing to his ineptitude and the growing influence of nobles, the decadence of the Mughal Empire had set in during the lifetime of Shah Saheb itself. Passionate nobles became regional satraps and founded their own fiefdoms. These included Awadh, Bengal, Hyderabad, etc. Rajput warlords also converted their native territories into personal jagirs. This gave the neighbouring feudatories an opportunity to raise their heads. Taking advantage of the unstable political situation, Marathas also tried to establish their rule in South India. They were defeated by the Afghan Chieftain, Ahmad Shah Abdali, who came to India at the invitation of Rohilla warriors and Shah Saheb’sbidding, in the third battle of Panipat in 1761. Shah Saheb died one year after the battle. If the political situation was turbulent, chaos on social front was also palpable. Instead of working for the expansion of Islamic knowledge, the Ulema were engaged in futile religious debates. All the attention was centered on issues concerning schools of thought. There was a need for a towering personality who could draw up a plan of action conducive to the conditions of his times and guide the Muslim Ummah which had deviated from the righteous path due to the state of disorder and helplessness. This unparalleled personality was none else but Hazrat Shah Waliullah Mohaddis Dehlavi. For Dawah, Shah WaliullahMohaddisDehlavi took the route of knowledge and enriched with his precious books. That is the reason why his works are considered as a minaret of light. For Dawah, he made all-out efforts to establish harmony among works of different schools of Islamic thought by bringing into focus their various aspects. He is also credited with ignoring contentious issues and bringing about unanimity among scholars. He focused mainly on unanimity among different schools of Islamic thought and worked towards the achievement of the commonality of basic ideas and beliefs of the Ulema belonging to Hanafi, Shafai, Maaliki, and Ahle-Hadith schools of thought, as well as Sufis and non-Sufi scholars. He tested these beliefs on the touchstone of Shariah and struck a balance between the beliefs of Moatazila, Ashaerah, Maataridiya and Ahl-i-Hadith and brought philosophy and the Shariah closer to each other. One of the main contributions of the Shah was that he made the differences of Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) subservient to justice and conformity. He also did his best to stamp out exaggeration and prejudice in sectarian contentions. Credit also goes to him for preferring understanding of faith over Greek philosophy. While setting the syllabus of Islamic studies, he especially kept in view reformation of redundant knowledge of philosophy and logic. Shah Waliullah thoroughly studied the plight of rulers, nobles, professionals, soldiers, government officials, Ulema, Sufis and the general public and warned them of grave consequences of their wrongdoings. Besides, he tried to offer solution to class struggle that existed even before Marxism appeared on the scene by presenting an economic theory based on Qur’an and Sunnah. He described the principles of governance and explained Islamic system of governance in which the relations between the ruler and the ruled could become harmonious. His other widely acclaimed contribution is the introduction of the system of teaching and Dawah which renewed Muslims’ interest in knowing Islam in proper perspective. Most of the schools of Islamic thought in the sub-continent are attributed to Shah Waliullah Mohaddis Dehlavi. In view of the valuable services rendered to the cause of Dawah of Islam, the Institute of Objective Studies, has selected ‘Dawah of Islam’ as the topic for the Fourteenth Shah Waliullah Award, so that a scholar of eminence who could be eligible in respect of knowledge and practice, is identified. Needless to say, the current political, social, economic, cultural and civilisational situation is entirely different from India of eighteenth century. Education system has undergone a sea change but the goal of universal education is yet to be achieved. Fascist forces are busy in their nefarious design of pushing Millat to the wall.Weaker sections, backward classes and the minorities are feeling insecure. European scholars areappreciative of the communal harmony between Hindus and Muslims that existed during the time of Shah Waliullah. An scholar of repute, who has presented a tangible plan of action in the light of the Qur’an and Sunnah in the context of today’s problems, will be selected for the Fourteenth Shah Waliullah Award. The nominee must have imparted training to adopt an explicitly excellent way of living a positive life in accordance with Qur’an and Sunnah, among Muslims. He must have endeavoured to present the real interpretation of Islam with arguments by engaging with the creatures of Allah for their knowledge and guidance. Such type of honourable and noble personality will be fit to the parameters of the Fourteenth Shah Waliullah Award.

Essay Writing Competition

(Junior Category)


“Islami Dawah and Call of the Modern Age”

The Institute of Objective Studies invites essays on the topic of “Islami Dawah and Call of the Modern Age” by young scholars and researchers. The best essay will receive a cash award of Rs. 25,000/-.

The last date for submission of the essay is 31 March, 2020.

Candidates who wish to participate in the competition are required to submit their essay in accordance with the following guidelines: i) The candidate should be below 45 years of age. ii) The essay should have a high academic standard and should not exceed 10,000 words. Detailed references should be appended at the end of the essay. iii) The essay should be submitted in quadruplet, along with the curriculum vitae of the candidate. iv) An essay which is submitted for the competition should not have received any award by any other organisation or institution. If the essay wins the award, the IOS will have the exclusive right over its publication. v) The decision of the IOS on the selection of the best essay shall be final.

A Note on the theme of Essay

Islami Dawah and Call of the Modern Age

As a whole, Muslims today are passing through a perilous phase throughout the world. Islam is under constant attack and Muslim life and property are under threat. Islamophobia has become a catchword, yet the response to it in the areas where the fascist forces of the country have also developed close relations with these external forces that are leading hysterical Islamophobia campaign. As far as Muslims are concerned, they are far away from quality education. Despite being skilled, they fail to transform their expertise into small or big enterprises. Regrettably, they lag behind in taking advantage of the facilities available for setting up business or industries. Differences over issues concerning Fiqh and Maslak are reigning supreme. Anxiety appears to have come full circle. It is high time the community (the Millat) unitedly faced the anti-Islam forces, both internal and external, with their writings. This also includes reforms in the community, promotion of education and economic uplift. Participants in the article writing competition are required to include issues referred to above, identify the requirements of modern times, and suggest ways and means to solve them in the light of the Qur’an and Sunnah. The spirit behind the article writing competition has been to invigorate the Muslim youth with the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah, and spur them to ponder over the issues of the modern age and express their views on how to shoulder the responsibility in this task. This initiative is aimed at creating awareness among young intellectuals about the issues. This may apprise the intellectuals of our times of the plight of Muslim society and contribute positively towards the efforts that are underway to forge unity among them. The writers of the article on “Islami Dawah of and Call of the Modern Age” are also urged to specify how to present the true spirit of Islam before non-Muslims. The time has come to interpret Islam in its correct perspective so as to remove misconceptions about the religion and put an end to deviant religious practices. It will be a great service if we won over the creatures of Allah and this Dawah will go a long way in creating an atmosphere of goodwill and brotherhood. This task of Dawah is of great value and calls for the attention of intellectuals.


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