The basic sources of Islamic thinking are Quran and Hadith (Sunnah). Islamic thinking may be defined as a religious approach adopted by the Muslims to seek solutions of problems and implement Islam in a particular age. Islamic thinking is unique from any other religious thinking in the sense that Islamic thinking of a previous age does not become irrelevant in a current age though it becomes lesser prominent for implementing Islam and seeking solution of problems in that current age; Islamic thinking pertaining to a current age becomes more prominent for seeking solutions of problems and implementing Islam in that current age .
The second peculiarity of Islamic thinking is that Islamic thinking of every age is initiated by Mujaddid of that age, keeping in view the nature of problems to be faced by the Muslims in that age. According to a hadith, a Mujaddid is raised on the turn of every century- this turn may be in the beginning or in the last part of a century. It means a Mujaddid may be raised in the first 33.33 years or the last 33.33 years of a Hijri century (Arabs did not use Solar Calendar; they used Moon Calendar and Hijri Calendar is a Moon Calendar). There may be only one Mujaddid for a century. A Mujaddid may be born in one century and expire in another century; he would be Mujaddid for the century in which he expires. The reason is simple; a Mujaddid once becomes a Mujaddid remains a Mujaddid till his last breath- because there is only one Mujaddid in a century, it implies that a Mujaddid pertains to the century in which he expires. It may also be appreciated that centuries of ‘Mujaddadeen’ start from 47 hijri. Our Nabi (ﷺ) was born in 53 BH (571 AD); in this way the first century after our Nabi’s (ﷺ) birth according to hijri calendar completes in 47 hijri. Our Nabi (ﷺ) himself is the Mujaddid of this first century; in this way, centuries of Mujaddadeen, other than our Nabi (ﷺ), start from 47 AH. The Mujaddid of first century [47-147 AH] was Hazrat Imam Hussain (a.s). The present is the 14th century of ‘Mujaddadeen’ [1347-1447 AH] and Iqbal is the Mujaddid of this century which will end up in 1447 AH.
In the first century of ‘Mujaddadeen’ i.e. 47-147 AH, the Islamic concept of Khilafah- which lays emphasis on Islamic principle that Sovereignty belongs to Allah and man can exercise his will only to implement Allah’s Sovereignty- was tarnished when the rulers started considering themselves as supreme authority in deciding state’s matters. It was need of the hour that principle of Sovereignty of Allah must be again the decisive principle to decide Islamic state’s matters and it was due to this need that Hazrat Imam Hussain (a.s) [d.61 AH] was raised as a Mujaddid of first century of Mujaddadeen and he challenged tyranny of the rulers of his age.
In the second century of ‘Mujaddadeen’ i.e. 147-247 AH, Islam had been expanded into vast new lands, and encountering new questions to be answered every day. Because ‘Ilm e Hadith’ was not yet fully developed and people were not able to find solutions of their problems on the basis of relevant and authentic ahadith, it was need of that time that ‘Ijtihad’ i.e. another Islamic principle should be resorted to find solutions of everyday problems. Therefore Imam Abu Hanifa (r.a.) [d.150 H] was raised as a Mujaddid who adopted ‘rai’/aqal (based on Quran and Hadith) as a tool to find solutions of problems faced by the people.
In the third century of ‘Mujaddadeen’ i.e. 247-347 AH, it was felt that ‘rai/aqal’ as a tool of ‘Ijtihad’ needs to be authenticated on the basis of sayings of our Nabi (ﷺ). Consequently Imam Bukhari (r.a) [d. 256 AH] was raised as a Mujaddid who undertook gigantic task of collecting authentic ahadith on the basis of most comprehensive ‘ilm ur rijal’. It may please be appreciated Hadith was not a facet of Islamic thinking which was confined to third century of Mujaddadeen- as mentioned earlier Hadith is the basic source of Islamic thinking. However Hadith got more prominence in the third century of ‘Mujaddadeen’ for seeking solutions of problems and implementing Islam in that age.
In the fourth century of Mujaddadeen i.e. 347-447 AH, ‘aqal/rai’-adopted as a prominent tool to implement Islam in the second century of Mujaddadeen- and Hadith- adopted as a prominent tool to implement Islam in the third century- were unified in the form of Imam Baqillani [d.403 AH] who was raised as a Mujadded to implement Islam through knowledge of Hadith and Islamic Law combined.
By the fifth century of Mujaddadeen i.e. 447-547 AH, Islam had encountered new theological challenges due to interaction with Greek philosophy and need of a great philosopher and theologian was felt to dilute these challenges. Consequently Imam Ghazali (d. 505 AH) was raised as a Mujadded who, basing on Islamic sources, met successfully theological challenges posed by Greek philosophy.
By the sixth century of Mujaddadeen i.e. 547-647 AH, under the influence of giants like Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Bukhari and Imam Ghazali, shariah was the main focus of the people. Need was felt to regenerate and uplift Love for Allah to the level of prominence and consequently Abdul Qadir Gillani (r.a) [d. 561 AH] was raised as a Mujadded who worked for spiritual purgation of people using Love for Allah as a tool. Similarly Rumi (r.a.) [d.670 AH] performed the same job in the seventh century of Mujaddadeen i.e. 647-747 AH and was developed into Mujadded of that century.
In the eighth and ninth centuries i.e. 747-847 AH and 847-947 AH respectively, need arose to adopt Quran and Hadith as a prominent tool to implement Islam and consequently Imam Ibn e Qaseer [d.774 AH] and Imam Ibn e Hajr [d. 852 AH] were raised to the level of Mujaddadeen for eighth and ninth centuries of Mujaddadeen respectively. It may again be appreciated that Quran and Hadith are the basic sources of Islamic thinking in all ages. However, the Quran and Hadith were given special focus as a more prominent tools in eighth and ninth centuries of Mujaddadeen, to implement Islam and seek solutions of problems.
Since the tenth century of Mujaddadeen i.e. 947-1047 AH, the chain of up-coming Mujaddadeen has been transferred to the sub-continent. In this century, the Indian Muslims were facing a serious challenge in the form of concept of Unity of Religion which propagated that all religions preached for the same God; no matter, if methods adopted by religions were different. This concept/philosophy of Unity of God aimed at attaining salvation through ‘sheer love to God’ without pursuing any specific form of worship. Some Muslim mystics also got influenced by this philosophy due to prevailing philosophy of ‘wahdat ul wajood’, and due to Love for Allah, which was a cardinal principle in Islam. As a result, the movement of Unity of Religions got impetus in India, and consequently Muslims’ separate identity was seriously endangered. In these circumstances, need emerged for a leader which could re-establish Muslims’ separate identity on the basis of Islamic principles; it was due to this need that Shaikh Ahmad Sirhendi (r.a) [d. 1034 AH] was raised as a Mujadded which introduced philosophy of ‘wahdat ul shahood’ to remove negative impact of ‘wahdat ul wajood’ and emphasized those Islamic principles which require Muslims to establish their separate identity.
In the eleventh century of Mujaddadeen i.e. 1047-1147 AH, propagation of hadith was the main approach of Indian Muslims to seek solution of problem and implement Islam in India. Before Abdul Haque Muhaddis Dehlvi (r.a), India was almost deprived of ‘ilm e hadith’, and it was the crying need of time to propagate ‘ilm e hadith’ widely in India. Resultantly Abdul Haque Dehlvi (r.a) [d.1052 AH] was exalted to the status of Mujadded of eleventh century of Mujaddadeen.
By the twelfth century of Mujaddadeen i.e. 1147-1247 AH, Indian Muslims were experiencing downfall in all fields- political, social, cultural and religious. There was a need for regeneration in all fields. Consequently Shah Waliullah (r.a) [d.1176 AH] was raised to the status of Mujadded of this century, and he worked for Muslims’ economic, cultural, social, religious and political regeneration in India.
By thirteenth century of Mujaddadeen i.e. 1247-1347 AH, the Indian Muslims, under influence of Shaikh Ahmad Sirhendi (r.a), Abdul Haque Dehlvi (r.a) and Shah Waliullah (r.a) had adopted shariah based on Quran and Hadith as the main approach/ principle to find solution of problems and implement Islam. With strong commitment to shariah, Love for Nabi (ﷺ) was also required to be adopted as more prominent approach to implement Islam; resultantly Imam Ahmad Raza Khan Barailvi (r.a) [d.1340 AH] was elevated to the status of Mujadded for this century.
By the fourteenth century of Mujaddadeen i.e. 1347-1447 AH, the Indian Muslims, due to slavery, un-Islamic traditions crept into Islamic mysticism and rotten religious beliefs had gotten to the bottom of downfall where there was no hope left for regeneration of the Muslim. It was this dark scenario in which Iqbal (r.a) [ d.1357 AH] was raised to the status of Mujadded for this century. Iqbal (r.a) imbued the Muslims with a new hope, made rotten religious beliefs apparent to them, presented a true picture of Islam and Islamic mysticism before them and infused them with strong craving for political, social, and spiritual regeneration. The corner stones of Iqbal’s Islamic thinking were Quran, Hadith and Love for our Nabi (ﷺ). The present is the century of Iqbal and it will continue till 1447 AH (2025 AD (continued).