Birth and Early Life
Shaykh Yunus ibn Shabbir Ahmad ibn Sher Ali (R) was born on Saturday, 02 October 1937 corresponding to 25/26 Rajab 1356 in Jaunpur, Uttar Pradesh, India. At the age of five his mother passed away and he was thereafter looked after by his maternal grandmother. She was a pious woman who was immensely affectionate towards him. He initially undertook his early Islamic education at Madrasah Zia al-Ulum, Jaunpur under the tutelage and guidance of Maulana Ziyaul-aq Fayzabadi (R).
In Shawwal 1377 (1958), Shaykh Yunus (R) travelled to Saharanpur and enrolled at the famous seminary Mazahirul Uloom from which he graduated in 1380 (1961).
During his studies in Saharanpur, he studied under great luminaries, amongst them: Shaykhul Hadith Maulana Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhelwi (R) and Maulana Asadullah Rampuri (R), both of whom granted him Ijazah in Tasawwuf. His other teachers include: Maulana Manzur Ahmad Saharanpuri, Mufti Muzaffar Husayn and Maulana Ameer Ahmad Kandhelwi (R).
Shaykh Yunus (R) had also acquired Ijazah of Hadith from numerous scholars, notably Mufti Mahmoodul Hasan Gangohi, Shaykh Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi, Shaykh Abdullah Nakhibi, Shaykh Abdul Fattah Abu Ghuddah, Shaykh Fakhruddeen Muradabadi, Shaykh Ahmad Ali Surti, Shaykh Abdur Rahman al-Kattani (R) amongst others.
Hazrat stated on many occasions that he benefited greatly, particularly in the science of Hadith from the following experts: Allamah Ibn Taymiyah, Hafiz Zahabi, Hafiz Ibn Kathir, Hafiz Ibn Qayyim, Hafiz Ibn Rajab, Hafiz Ibn Abdul Hadi, Hafiz Zayla'i and Hafiz Ibn Hajar (R).
Shaykh Yunus (R) was extremely fond of Ibn Taymiyah (R) and would praise him and quote from his works. He would describe him using lofty titles such as “Shaykh al-Islam”, “Imam of this world”, “Allamah of the creation” and would rebuke anyone who attempted to undermine him.
Appointment as teacher and Shaykhul Hadith
A year after his graduation in Shawwal 1381 (1962), Shaykh Yunus (R) was formally appointed as a teacher in Mazahirul Uloom Saharanpur. He taught various books including Sharh al-Wiqayah, Hidayah, Usulush Shashi, Mukhtasar al-Ma’ani, Nurul Anwar, Mishkat al-Masabih, Sunan Abi Dawood, Sunan Ibn Majah, Sunan Nasai, Sahih Muslim, Muwatta Imam Malik and Muwatta Imam Muhammad.
Thereafter, in Shawwal 1388 (1968), he was appointed by Shaykhul Hadith Maulana Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhelwi (R) as Shaykhul Hadith of Mazahirul Uloom and honoured with the privilege of teaching Sahih al-Bukhari, a position he held until his demise. Shaykh Yunus (R) taught the entire Sahih al-Bukhari for fifty years and did so with an unparalleled level of devotion, love, passion and vigour. It is worth noting that his appointment as Shaykhul Hadith at a relatively young age reflects the confidence of his teachers in him. Maulana Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhelwi (R) confidence in his student can be further gauged by the fact that he has quoted his student's views in his al-Abwab wat Tarajim as well as in his footnotes on Lami al-Dirari and he would regularly consult him and refer senior scholars to him. In fact, in 1387 (1967), Maulana Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhelwi (R) wrote a letter to Shaykh Yunus (R) wherein he stated that Shaykh Yunus would 'surpass' him after forty-seven years (in the science of Hadith).
The notable works authored by Shaykh Yunus (R) are:
- Al-Yawaqit al-Ghaliyah: A unique collection of articles, questions and answers and treatises, mostly pertaining to Hadith matters. Shaykhul Hadith Maulana Ayyub Surti Saheb has worked tirelessly to make this collection publishable.
- Nibras al-Sari ila Riyadh al-Bukhari has also been published – (Commentary of Sahih al-Bukhari)
- Arabic footnotes on the four Sunan including Sunan al-Tirmizi the only book from the Sihah Sittah which he did not teach. In addition, his footnotes on Mishkat al-Masabih,
- Bazlul Majhood and Fathul Bari. Arabic notes on the entire Sahih Muslim. Urdu commentary of Sahih al-Bukhari.
- Nawadirul Fiqh
- Nawadirul Hadith
These are the more popular and well known publications of Muhaddith al-Asr (R) amongst others.
Marriage and family
Shaykh Yunus (R) was an embodiment of commitment and devotion to the sacred sciences of Islamic learning, particularly the science of Hadith. His sacrifice for knowledge can be gauged from the fact that he did not make Nikah in his entire lifetime. He followed in the footsteps of great luminaries like Imam Nawawi, Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (R) and others who chose not to marry out of their commitment and devotion to the service of Deen.
Piety and Selflessness
A facet of his noble life which is perhaps less well known is his piety, asceticism and selflessness. His simplicity and selflessness was such that he spent his entire life in a room within the Madrasah. During the first few years after becoming a teacher, he would take a salary from the Madrasah. However, he had decided to adopt the path of total tawakkul after a few years and stopped taking a salary from the Madrasah. This proved to be extremely difficult initially, however, Allah Ta'ala opened the doors of provision and eased his situation. He would sleep on the floor in his room surrounded by books. Even when he would travel for Hajj and Umrah and stay in the Kabah view apartments of Shaykh Bakr bin Laden, he would sleep on the floor. Shaykh Yunus (R) would often describe how in his early years he only possessed one bowl and would use it for cooking, eating, drinking, washing and other purposes. In his early life, he did not have sufficient money to afford medicine or even paper to write on.
Love for the Sunnah
Shaykh Yunus (R) will be remembered for his uncompromising love for the Sunnah and his devotion to Hadith. He left no stone unturned when it came to following, practising or defending the Sunnah and refuting innovations. He would firmly advise those who trim or shave their beards citing the Prophetic Sunnah. Likewise, Shaykh Yunus (R) had no hesitation in refuting practices or Ahadith which are not substantiated. Whenever he would teach or listen to Ahadith he would always be in the state of ablution.
On the Friday before Shaykh Yunus (R) passed away, he took a bath and arrived at the Masjid early as was his usual habit. Shaykh Yunus (R) thereafter took ill on Saturday and passed away on Tuesday 11 July 2017 / 17 Shawwal 1438. He passed away and did not leave anything behind except his invaluable collection of books, some other personal belongings and a small amount of money. His Janazah Salah was led by Hazrat Maulana Talha Sahib (DB). Reports suggest that the Janazah Salah was attended by approximately 500 000 people.
He was buried as per his wish close to his beloved teacher Maulana Asadullah Rampuri (R)
Malfoozat - Notable Statements
From among the many sterling advices of Shaykh Yunus (R), some are:
- “The soul is reformed and purified by adhering to the Sunnah.”
- “Tasawwuf in reality is following the Sunnah with the correct intention.”
- “Whoever follows the Sunnah, he does not need to worry about his Deen or Dunya. Allah looks after him.”
- “Be punctual with Masnoon supplications. A short Masnoon supplication is superior to a long wazifa which is not from the Sunnah.”
- “Sahih al-Bukhari is a miracle of the Prophet ﷺ. Allah delayed this miracle until the era of Imam Bukhari.”
- “Acquire Adab (etiquette), you will be blessed in your knowledge.”
- “I read the entire Musnad Imam Ahmad four times in pursuit of one particular word in a Hadith.”
- “Knowledge does not increase merely by teaching; it increases by extensive Mutalah (study) of books.”“First repent from your sins & then make Dua. Imam Bukhari began the
- book of Duas with chapters of Istighfar & Tawbah.”
- “If a person teaches Sahih Bukhari for many years & does not read the morning & evening Adhkar narrated therein, then what Bukhari has he taught?”
May Allah Ta'ala grant Shaykh Yunus (R) complete forgiveness and elevate his ranks in the Hereafter