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|This article relies on references to primary sources. (March 2012)|
|Moulaana Ashraf Ali Thanvi
اشرف علی تھانوی
|Born||19 August 1863|
|Died||4 July 1943(aged 79)|
|Main interest(s)||Fiqh, Hadith, Tassawuf|
|Alma mater||Darul Uloom Deoband|
|Disciple of||Haji Imdadullah|
Darul Uloom Deoband, India
Thanwi graduated from the Darul Uloom Deoband in 1884. It is claimed[by whom?] that when Rashid Ahmad Gangohi, one of the founders of the institution, arrived for the graduation ceremony, Maulana Mehmud Hasan informed him Thanwi, an especially intelligent student was about to graduate. Gangohi wanted to test this student by asking the most difficult questions that he could think of. Thanwi's answers reportedly amazed and pleased Gangohi, who himself conducted the Dastārbandī Jalsa, the turban-tying ceremony marking graduation.
Spiritual training 
During his studies at Darul Uloom Deoband, Thanwi asked Gangohi to train him in the spiritual disciplines as well. Gangohi, however, advised him to wait until the completion of his traditional studies. Thanwi remained restless and looked for a way to ask Haji Imdadullah Muhaajir Makki, the spiritual guide of Gangohi, to recommend him to Gangohi. When Gangohi departed for Hajj, Thanwi sent a letter with him to Imdadullah, requesting him to persuade Gangohi to initiate him into his spiritual order (tariqah).
After his graduation, Thanwi taught religious sciences in Kanpur for fourteen years. Over a short period of time, he acquired a reputable position as a religious scholar, of Sufism among other subjects. His teaching attracted numerous students and his research and publications became well known in Islamic institutions. During these years, he traveled to various cities and villages, delivering lectures in the hope of reforming people. Printed versions of his lectures and discourses would usually become available shortly after these tours. Until then, few Islamic scholars had had their lectures printed and widely circulated in their own lifetimes. The desire to reform the masses intensified in him during his stay at Kanpur.
Eventually, Thanwi retired from teaching and devoted himself to reestablishing the spiritual centre (khānqāh) of his shaikh in Thāna Bhāwan. Upon this transition, Imdadullah remarked, "It is good that you have arrived in Thāna Bhāwan. It is hoped that people will benefit from you spiritually and physically. You should engage yourself in revitalizing our madrasah and khānqāh once more in Thāna Bhāwan. As for myself, I am always praying for you and attentive towards you."
Students and disciples 
Thanwi’s students and disciples settled in all parts of South Asia. They include:
- Abdul Hai Arifi
- Qari Muhammad Tayyib Qasimi, grandson of the founder of Dar al- ‘Ulum Deoband, Muhammad Qasim Nanotvi, and head principal of Dar al- ‘Ulum Deoband for over 50 years, from the early 1930s to the early 1980s
- Maseehullah Khan Sherwani (founder of Madrasa Miftah al- ‘Ulum in Jalalabad, India, and a leading spiritual figure of the past century)
- Muhammad Shafi Usmani, head mufti of Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband and later founder of Dar al-‘Ulum Karachi
- Abdul Bari Nadvi (renowned theologian and philosopher in India who taught modern philosophy at Osmania University in Hyderabad and translated the books of Western philosophers such as Descartes, into Urdu and left behind many literary tracts)
- Sulaiman Nadvi, researcher and student of Shibli Nu ‘mani who turned to Thanwi for spiritual reformation
- Muhammad Ilyas al-Kandhlawi, founder of Tablighi Jamaat
- Ahmed Khan Khalifa Majaz Molana Muhammed Masihulah Khan, Hyderabad, Pakistan
Literary contribution 
Thanwi was a prolific author of sermons, discussions, discourses, treatises, and books. Syed Sulaiman Nadvi said that Thanwi "was a translator and exegete (mufassir) of the Quran; he explained its injunctions and wisdoms. He removed doubts and answered questions pertaining to it."
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (December 2012)|
The propagation of Islam was an essential part of Thanwi’s life. He was highly organized and would plan his tours well in advance. Thousands of people would attend his lectures, which usually lasted between two and five hours. Once he visited Gajner, a village in the Kanpur district of Uttar Pradesh, when the Arya Samaj had started to preach Hinduism among the Muslims of that area. Thanwi was able to persuade the Muslims there to promise that they would not commit "apostasy" by converting. To prevent the spread of apostasy, he wrote the treatise, Al-Insidād li-Fitnat-il Irtidād ("Putting a Stop to the Temptation of Apostasy").
Fatwa of kufr and its refutation 
In 1906 Ahmad Raza Khan issued a fatwa of kufr against Thanwi and other Deobandi leaders entitled Husam ul-Haramain (Urdu: Sword of Mecca and Medina), decrying them as unbelievers (kufr) and Satanists. It alleged that Thanwi disrespected the Prophet in some of his writings. The fatwa was countersigned by many other ulama, including some from Hijaz.    Deobandi scholars refuted this allegation in the book al-Muhannad ‘ala l-Mufannad ("The Sword against the Disproved"), authored by hadith scholar Khalil Ahmad al-Saharanpuri.
Views on politics 
Thanwi argued, mainly using verses of the Quran, that political rule is only a means of instituting Islam in people's lives and not the purpose of life itself. All modern political notions that contradict the Quran and Hadith would have to be forsaken, and the "pure" political thought reflected in Quranic sources should guide Muslims in organizing and structuring their governments.
Thanwi died in Thāna Bhāwan on July 4, 1943. His funeral prayer was led by his nephew, Zafar Ahmad Uthmānī, and he was buried in the graveyard of 'Ishq-e-Bāzān.
Destruction of grave 
See also 
- Ali Abbasi, Shahid. (2008, January–March). Rethinking in Islam: Mawlana Ashraf 'Ali Thanawi on Way and Way-faring. Hamdard Islamic-us, 21(1), 7–23. (Article on Ashraf 'Ali's teachings on Sufism.)
- Fatwa of Kufr (originally issued 1900 C.E.), posted at SufiManzil.org
- Ahmad Raza Khan. Hussam-ul-Harmain
- Fatawa Hussam-ul-Hermayn by Khan,Ahmad Raza Qadri
- As-samare-ul-Hindiya by Khan,Hashmat Ali
- Al-Mufannad translation at TheMajlis.co.za
- Sword on the Disproved at Marifah.net
- Graves of Ashraf Ali Thanvi family demolished, desecrated, IndianMuslims.info, December 2006
Further reading 
- Zaman, Muhammad Qasim, Ashraf `Ali Thanawi: Islam in Modern South Asia (Makers of the Muslim World), Oneworld, 2007.
- A Short Bio on Ashraf Ali Thanwi at Haqislam.org
- Collection of Ashraf Ali Thanwi in PDF-format
-  themajlis.co.za Muhannad