Maulana Umar Palanpuri


Maulana Umar Palanpuri was an influential Islamic scholar from India, who was one of the first 10 World Shura (aka Alami Shura) members of the Tablighi Jamaat, the highest ranking body in Tablighi Jamaat since 1995. Born in 1925 in Palanpur, Gujarat, he became a significant figure in spreading the teachings of Islam and the principles of the Tablighi Jamaat internationally.

Maulana Umar was known for his deep understanding of Islamic theology and his ability to articulate complex religious concepts in a manner that could easily be understood to the general public. He was know as the ‘Voice of Tabligh’ due to his oratory skills.

He played a pivotal role in expanding the reach of Tablighi Jamaat beyond the Indian subcontinent to other parts of the world, including Europe, Africa, and North America. His efforts helped establish the movement as a global Islamic revivalist campaign.

Initial days with Tablighi Jamaat

Maulana Umar Sahab spent his first forty days in 1947-1948.  He took Baiyat on the hands of Hadrat Maulana Yusuf (the second Ameer of Tabligh).  He then accepted a job as the Imam of a mosque in Mumbai, where he worked for some six years.  Every Thursday night, he used to go the Mumbai Tablighi Markaz at the Dalpatty masjid for the sab-e-jummah.

In 1954 his life’s path intersected with that a Jama’at that travelled all the way from Nizamuddin, travelling along the broad-gauge railway track, all while making effort among low-income Muslim communities that made a living around the economic space of the railways.  Included in the jama’at was an English-educated man, who had been consumed by the nobility of this effort of dawaat.  When this man spoke at the Ijtema at the  sab-e-jummah, regaling the audience with the heart-rending true stories of the epic personal sacrifice of the sahaba, finally exhorting members of the audience to envision the Face of Allah, and the someday approach toward the Jannat al-Firdaus, give their names for four months of khuruj, Maulana Umar Sahab sensed that he had but to rise and announce his intention to spend four months in the path of Allah.

He and his young family at the time were trapped in poverty that was hardscrabble. He had personal debt the size of the equivalent to ten years’ worth of his monthly salary.  His personal circumstances were the kind that plainly excluded the practicality of his leaving his day-job and launching himself headlong into the four-months of self-financed journeying in the name of his religion. But he neutralized all obstacles that life threw down on to his path, and he went to Nizamuddin. The rest is history.

Life in Nizamuddin Markaz

Maulana Umar worked very hard, rising to the demands of excellence as a striver in the path of Allah.  Maulana never looked back.  Allah’s invisible assistance helped at every turn.  Between 1954 and 1995, Maulana was constant in his giving his life, time, energies, and money in the path of Allah.  He became attached for life to Banglawali mosjid in 1965, when Maulana Yusuf passed away.  He became Hadratji Inamul Hasan’s most important right-hand man, and remained in that role until 1995, when Hadratji passed away.

His struggles after Hadratji Maulana Inamul Hassan passed away

After Maulana Inamul Hassan (the third Ameer of Tabligh) passed away, an extremist faction (within Nizamuddin) driven by long-standing grievances and misinformation slowly seized control of the Nizamuddin Markaz. Maulana Umar witnessed the two most hardest years of his life before his passing.

Even before then, throughout the years, Maulana Umar Sahab had been quietly disliked by this group, and after the death of Maulana Inamul Hasan, their hostility openly targeted him. He was humiliated and stripped of his influence. His usual speaking opportunities, once celebrated, were taken away. He was forced to move from his long-time spacious quarters to a much smaller and inadequate space, dismissively likened to a “rabbit’s warren.” Adding to the insult, the keys to this small room were thrown at his feet by people much younger than his eldest son. The last two years of his life, from 1995 to May 1997, were difficult as he lived in reduced circumstances at the Markaz in Nizamuddin. He faced both literal and figurative shrinkage of his life as his health declined. However, Maulana Umar Sahab endured these hardships with dignity, embodying the best qualities of a lifelong member of Tabligh. He continued participating in religious missions until the end, even attempting one on the last day of his life, which was cut short by a medical emergency.

His death and Sheikh Abdul Aziz Bin Baaz’s dream

Maulana Umar died in May 1997 at the age of 68 and was buried near the mausoleum of Humayun, close to other respected figures like Maulana Obaidullah Bilyabi and Qari Abdur Rashid Khurjawi.

Soon after Maulana Umar’s death, the Imam of Ka’aba, Shaikh Abdul Aziz bin Baaz, visited the Holy Prophet in dream: the Holy Prophet seemed to stand at a place, apparently waiting for someone to come.  The imam of Ka’aba asked the Holy Prophet: “Ya Rasoolullah, are you waiting for someone to show up?”  The Holy Prophet said: “Yes, I am waiting for Umar Palanpuri Hindi to arrive.”  After waking up, the Imam of Ka’aba asked around and found out that Umar Palanpuri Sahab had recently breathed his last at Nizamuddin.  Imam Abdul Aziz composed a congratulatory letter to the eldest son of the departed dervish, and sent the missive to Maulana Yunus Palanpuri, Maulana Umar’s eldest son.  Yunus Palanpuri subsequently read this letter aloud, in the midst of much wailing from all around, to Arab guests after the morning bayan at Nizamuddin markaz.  (This true story has been sourced from the biography of Hadrat Maulana Umar Sahab written in Urdu, which has been read by Naeem Chowdhury). 

Maulana Umar’s frequent dream of the Holy Prophet

Throughout his life, Maulana Muhammad Umar Palanpuri had been known for the frequency with which he did ziarat of the Holy Prophet in dream, several of the interactions have also been chronicled in the bespoke biography.  For all his exemplary eminence, Maulana Umar Palanpuri Sahab during his last living years still faced toxic ridicule and harassment from small men carrying the blinding baggage of self-dealing stories of grievance and purported great injury. Assuredly, the ravages of wrongful character assassination that became his lot.

Here we will only narrate those dreams which Maulana Umar himself saw and noted in his personal notebook.

From these dreams we can gauge the love that Maulana Umar had for the Prophet SAW and how much reverence he had for this great effort of dawat.

Dream seen on 10 February 1980

Maulana Umar writes: I saw this dream in Dhaka in Bangladesh. In the dream I saw that I was looking for Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and there were many people present. I found Prophet Muhammad SAW sitting between a group of people. I went there and I did Salaam to him and I shook his hands and I asked him about paradise. He replied, “InshaAllah you are going to enter into paradise and there will be great enjoyment there “.

Then I said to him that Hazrat sheikh (Maulana Zakaria RA) and Hazratji (Maulana Inamul Hasan RA) also send their Salaams and he accepted their Salaams and then he said,

“Maulana Zakaria is such a person that one’s eyes get dazzled!” (in my heart I felt that what he meant by this statement is that Maulana Zakaria is abundant Noor). After this, I awoke from the dream.

Dream seen on 9 December 1977

In Musjid Noor (Tablighi Markaz of Madina Munawwara) I slept in Hazratjis room where I saw the following dream.

I saw a large group of people. I asked a youngster where the Prophet SAW was. He pointed and said that he was in that room. So I entered into the room and I saw that there are many pious people there. I saw that in one corner Ebraheem Abdul-Jabbar was sitting but I didn’t focus upon the others.

The Prophet SAW was on a bed. I tried to shake his hands but he said “hang on!” Having said this the Prophet SAW got off the bed and then he shook hands with me and then he sat back on the bed and he spread his legs, I kissed the blessed feet of Prophet SAW plentifully and he did not stop me. Then I wanted to see his blessed countenance but he was busy talking to others so he stopped me.

When he finished talking to them he said, “Molvi sab! At this time we are going on a mission. You come along with us also!” I asked ‘when?’ To which he replied, “tomorrow.” And I asked “where?” And he said “The Haram (Madinah).”

I asked “at what time?”

he said, “come whenever you want!”

After this I tried to sought permission from Maulana Zakaria and Hazratji but the dream came to an end.

Dream seen in 1970

I was sleeping in a small village whilst out in the Path of Allah when, in a dream, I saw a big group in which the Prophet SAW was present.

I went to him and met him and shook his hands. I wanted to ask him about Maulana Zakaria’s programme but before I could ask him he (SAW) said to me:

“Why is it being said that nothing is being done and nothing is happening and that the workers are not doing anything?!!”

He continued, “Humility is one thing but it should not exceed the bounds and reach the limits of gratefulness!”

He repeated this 5 to 10 times and he kept on repeating this.

I did not have an opportunity to ask him about Maulana Zakaria and I woke up.

I cannot write in words the pain and anguish with which the Prophet SAW was complaining to me.

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