“I have forgotten all the avenues…”

The foremost among Shah Wali Allah’s teachers, Shaykh Abu Tahir Muhammad ibn Ibrahim al-Kurdi, was a celebrated scholar of his time and a pupil of his own father, Shaykh Ibrahim al-Kurdi (d. 1101 AH). Shaykh Abu Tahir had also benefited from the knowledge of several other scholars of repute in his time. Shah Wali Allah’s other teachers included men like Shaykh Muhammad ibn Sulayman al-Maghribi and Sayyid Ahmad ibn Idris al-Maghribi.

Shaykh Abu Tahir al-Kurdi was influenced mainly by his father, whose intellectual genealogy can be traced back to Jalal al-Din al-Diwwani (d. 1502). Thus, his thinking and approach to Islam were very close to those of Shah Abd al-Rahim, who also belonged to the Diwwani tradition through the influence of his elder brother, Shaykh Abul Riza, and his teacher, Mir Zahid Hiravi.

Shaykh Ibrahim al-Kurdi was a puritan and a great admirer of Ibn Taymiyyah. His son, Shaykh Abu Tahir,  with the benefitof instruction not only from his eminent father, but also from other scholars, gained extensive knowledge of Hadith and Fiqh, was an accomplished Sufi. He was also greatly inspired by the works of Ibn Arabi and Shaykh Abu Madyan al-Shadhili. Shah Wali Allah attended Shaykh Abu Tahir’s lectures on Hadith, and was greatly impressed by him. On the eve of his departure for India, Shah Wali Allah tearfully told his teacher : “I have forgotten all the avenues I knew save the avenue that leads to your house”.

[Islamic Renaissance in South Asia 1707-1867: The Role of Shah Wali Allah and His Successors, Mahmood Ahmad Ghazi, Adam Publishers, p84-85]

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