Frequently Asked Questions
Imām Aĥmad Riđā Khān was a Sunni Ĥanafī-Māturīdī scholar. He was born in 1856 (1272 AH) and passed away in 1921 (1340 AH). His father and grandfather were both scholars. He is known as Alahazrat in the subcontinent. A brief biography is found on this page.
He was born in Bareilly, a thriving city in the North Indian state known as ‘Uttar Pradesh’. He passed away in the same place and his tomb is also in Bareilly. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bareilly
This is one of the canards and bald-faced lies circulated by his enemies. Alahazrat has vehemently refuted and rejected the Shīáh and Rāfiđīs. There are no less than 12 books refuting the shīáh and numerous fatāwā that clearly explicate that the Shīáh are heretics and the Rāfiđīs among them (those who deny necessary aspects of religion – đarūrīyāt) are kafirs.
Aálā Hazrat means Grand Master. This was a common mode of address in the 19th century. This is similar to honorifics in the west such as: Your Excellency, Your Worship, Learned Sir, Your Honour, etc. Nobles, kings and prominent scholars were addressed as Aálā-Hazrat. However, in the latter part of the twentieth century, it become synonymous with and the de-facto title of Imām Aĥmad Riđā Khān. For convenience, we use the spelling Alahazrat in English.
A person born in Bareilly is a Baraylawī (alternative spellings: Barelvi, Barelwi). Alahazrat was a Baraylawī because he was born and lived there. Just as Imām Bukhārī or Imām Nawawī or Imām Qushayrī and so forth. He used it as a demonym and not as an identifier of a school or sect. Alahazrat always referred to himself as belonging the Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l Jamāáh. In his life, his enemies used to call his followers or admirers as ‘Raza-Khani’ which could not be trended; they later began to use ‘Barelwi’ and it is in use today. A Barelwi is a follower of Alahazrat, true; but it is also a clear marker of the person being a Sunni who is against Wahābīs and other sects.
No. It is an identifier of staunch Sunnis in the subcontinent. How can this claim be verified? By the books of Alahazrat and numerous scholars who are students of his students and have written hundreds of books on Tafsīr, Ĥadīth, Taşawwuf and so many branches. All of these books are in accordance with Sunni scholars worldwide. It is the Deobandis who contradict Sunni scholars and follow the Wahābīs!
Alahazrat read some books from various teachers when he was young, but it was his father, Mawlānā Naqī Álī Khān, who taught him and trained him. Later he received authorisations (ijāzah) from prominent úlamā such as Shāh Aāl Rasūl Mārahrawī (a student of Shāh Abdu’l Ázīz Dihlawī, the son of Shāh Waliyullāh Dihlawī) and the Meccan scholars: Shaykh Sayyid Zaynī Daĥlān al-Shāfiýī and Shaykh Ábdu’l Raĥmān Sirāj al-Ĥanafī.
Bareilly is the city. Any of the above spellings will work, just as Bokhari, Bukhārī, Bukhary all mean the same.