Maulana Syed Sulaiman Ashraf Bihari: An Eminent Theologian and Voice of Freedom

Maulana Syed Sulaiman Ashraf Bihari (1878-1939), a prominent figure in Indian history, dedicated his life to education, theology, and the pursuit of national unity.

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Maulana Syed Sulaiman Ashraf Bihari(1878-1939), son of Hakeem Syed Mohammad Abdullah was born in the year 1878. He hailed from Mohalla Meer Dad, Bihar Sharif (Nalanda). He did his schooling at Patna School. But later shifted to orientall study and took early lessons of Arabic and Persian from Maulana Noor Mohammad Asadaqi. He got purely theological education under the tutelage of Maulana Hidaitullah Rampuri at Madarsa Hunfiya Jaunpur.

He also took lessons from Maulana Yar Mohammad Bundiyalwi. Sulaiman joined MAO College as a Lecturer in Theology in 1909 under the recommendation of Nawab Sadar Yar Jung and acted as Head of the Department of Theology for thirty years. He was a great nationalist, and also made strenuous efforts for Hindu Muslim unity to achieve freedom.

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Thoughts on Nation and Freedom

But his thoughts were quite differed from leaders of Khilafat and freedom movement. He said: “In all such matters which are related to the welfare of India, the followers of both religions should have a common strategy. In defence and calamities, help each other without discrimination, with compassionate and equal support. But in the religious matters, it is highly imperative to be completely separate and unrelated to the each other religion.”

On importance of national education, Maulana Syed Sulaiman Ashraf Bihari said: “Muslims will be blessed with the status of a nation only when they are given quality of education pertaining to real nationalism. This moment cannot be ignored. It should be declared as a motto of educational institutions through mutual consultation as soon as possible.”

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On freedom he said:
“Among the blessings of life, after the religion, there is perhaps no greater blessing than freedom. And when personal freedom along with national freedom is also taken away, then the scholars, thinkers and well- wishers of the nation will face a lot of problems and spiritual anguish.”

Prolific Works

In his credit dozens of books, some of them are: Al-Mubeen, Al-Haj, Imtina-ul-Nazeer, Al-Qadr, Al-Rishad, Al-Balagh, Al-Sabeel, Al-Khitab, Hasht Bihist Khusro and Al-Noor. Al-Noor (1921, Aligarh) was also an important book of him related to his political thought which was banned by British government.

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Maulana Syed Sulaiman Ashraf Bihari passed away on 25th April 1939 at Aligarh and buried at Aligarh Muslim University Graveyard known as Minto E. Nawab Sadar Yar Jung Maulana Habibur Rahman Khan Sherwani wrote persian couplets on his memory which is engraved on epitaph of his grave (See photo of epitaph, photo credit Asad Faisal Farooqui)

The Epitaph on the Grave of Syed Sulaiman Ashraf Bihari
The Epitaph on the Grave of Syed Sulaiman Ashraf Bihari

References and Further Readings:

Siddiqui, Rasheed Ahmad. Ganjaha-e-Garan Maya Aligarh, 1953.
Bari, Abdul. Sulaiman, Mohammad Asharaf, Fikro-Nazar, namwaran-e-Aligarh, March, 1991(Teesra Krawan, Vol. 2)

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