Hamiduddin Farahi (18 November 1863– 11 November 1930) was a celebrated Islamic scholar of South Asia known for his groundbreaking work on the concept of Nazm, or Coherence, in the Quran. He was instrumental in producing scholarly work that proved that the verses of the Quran are interconnected in such a way that each Surah, or Chapter, of the Quran forms a coherent structure, having its own central theme, which he called umood (the theme which stands out). He also started writing his own exegesis, or tafsir, of the Quran which was left incomplete due to his death in 1930. The Muqaddimah, or the Introduction, to this tafsir is an extremely important work on the theory of Nazm-ul-Quran.
Farahi was born in Phariya (hence the name "Farahi"), a village in the district of Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, India. He was a maternal cousin of the famous theologian-historian Shibli Nomani (1858–1914). He studied at MAO College and Allahabad University. In his studies while completing B.A., he proved himself to be an expert in Arabic and Persian languages.
As a teacher
After finishing his studies, Farahi taught Arabic at various institutions, including M.A.O. College and Dar-ul-Ulum, Hyderabad. While at Aligarh, he learnt Hebrew from the German Orientalist, Joseph Horovitz (1874–1931), who was a Professor of Arabic at the M.A.O. College. During his stay in Hyderabad, Farahi conceived the idea of establishing a University where all religious and modern sciences would be taught in Urdu. The scheme he prepared for this purpose later materialized in the form of Jamiah Uthmaniyyah, Hyderabad. He subsequently came to Sara-e-Mir, a town in Azamgarh, where he took charge of the Madrasatul Islah (School for Reform), an institution based on the educational ideas of Shibli Nomani and Farahi. Farahi had served as chief administrator of the school since its inception, but other engagements kept him away from becoming actively involved in its affairs. From 1925, when he came to Sara-e-Mir, to 1930, the year of his death, Farahi devoted most of his time and energy to managing the affairs of the Madrasa-tul-Islah and teaching there. A few students - Amin Ahsan Islahi was one of them - received special training from him and later became the bearer of his torch.
Recognition of his work
Farahi is well known to most scholars of the South Asia, who have acknowledged his outstanding contribution to Islamic thought and learning.
Maulana Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi writes, "It has been generally accepted that in recent times, very few have reached the position Allama Farahi has been blessed with by the Almighty as far as deliberation on the Qur'an is concerned. He has spent the major portion of his life pondering on the meanings of this Book, and has written such a masterful commentary on the Qur'an that it is difficult to find its parallel even in the early period..."
Maulana Shibli Nomani writes, "It is generally believed that a talented person can in no way remain unknown to the world. Experience as well as history bear testimony to this. However, each rule has an exception. Maulvi Hameed Uddin ... is a good example of such an exception ... In this age, his treatise "Tafseer Nizaam-ul-Quran" is as essential and beneficial to Muslims as pure water is to the thirsty and exhausted."
Maulana Syed Sulaiman Nadvi writes, " ... The Ibni Taimiyah of this age has died on 11 November 1930 --- someone whose brilliance is very unlikely to be surpassed now and whose comprehensive command of oriental and occidental disciplines is a miracle of this era. A profound scholar of the Qur'an ... a unique personality ... an embodiment of piety ... an unfathomable sea of knowledge ... an institution within himself ... a literary genius ... a researcher of prodigious intellect ... It is a matter of great sorrow that such a brilliant personality graced the world and then perished, but the world could not recognize its grandeur ... "
Maulana Manazir Ahsan Gilani writes, "... the revivalist movement launched by Shah Wali Ullah [in the eighteenth century], in recent years has drawn inspiration from "Tafseer Nizaam-ul-Qur'an" the work of a distinguished scholar, Maulana Hameed Uddin Farahi. Among other features of this commentary (i.e. relationship between the Qur'an and the Bible, and various literary discussions), its salient feature is the unprecedented attempt in it to bring out the coherence between the verses. It is this coherence which sometimes provides enough evidence that the Qur'an is a Divine Book."
Maulana Abdul Majid Daryabadi writes, "In this age, Allama Hameed Uddin Farahi is the most outstanding personality as far as Qur'anic Studies are concerned. He not only occupies a distinguished position among the scholars of recent times, but, in fact, has discovered some new principles for the interpretation of the Qur'an. The foremost among them is his philosophy of coherence in the Qur'an."
Most of Farahi's work is in Arabic. Farahi's chief scholarly interest was the Quran, the focal point of all his writings. Most of his published works are in the form of notes that were later compiled by his followers such Maulana Amin Ahsan Islahi and Allama Khalid Masud and others. Some of the books he wrote are:
- Mufradat al Quran ("Vocabulary of the Quran")
- Asalib al Quran ("Style of the Quran")
- Jamhara-tul-Balaghah ("Manual of Quranic Rhetoric")
- Im'an Fi Aqsam al-Qur'an (A Study of the Qur'anic Oaths)
- ‘في من هو الذبيح’ (Fi man huwa al-Dhabih: Which of Abraham's son was Sacrificed?)
- Nizam al-Qur'an (Coherence in the Qur'an), a commentary on the Qur'an, Introduction.
- A website dedicated to Hamiduddin Farahi
- Exordium to the Coherence in the Quran
- A Study of the Quranic Oaths
- English Translation of Farahi's Muqaddimah - Tafsir Nizam-ul-Quran
- Darul Musannefeen Shibli Academy
- The King Maker
- Farahi, Dar-ut-Tazkeer
- Welcome to Madrasa-Islah saraimeer Azamgarh at www.madrasaislah.org