Shaykh Mohammed Amin is a Muslim scholar, mentor, and the founder of Darul Qasim, an institute of traditional Islamic higher learning headquartered in the Glendale Heights suburb of Chicago. Shaykh Amin is an active advocate of the classical Sunni tradition of Islamic scholarship and a passionate promoter of traditional Islamic sciences and methodologies of teaching and learning. He is regarded internationally as an expert theologian and an authority in the fields of Islamic philosophy and theosophy. His deep knowledge in the Islamic tradition and his aggressive engagement with contemporary issues facing everyday Muslims in the West has endeared him to young Islamic scholars and professionals all over.
Shaykh Mohammed Amin was born April 2nd, 1959 in Gujarat, India. He is the son of Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Musa ibn Ibrahim Kholwadia and one of eight children: three daughters and five sons. His father, Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Musa was the spiritual and intellectual disciple of the illustrious polymath and academic-activist Shaykh al-Islām Ḥusayn Ahmad al-Madanī (may Allah have mercy on him). He graduated from the celebrated Islamic college, or Dār al-ʿUlūm, in Deoband, India, having also studied there under erudite scholarly giants such as Muftī Mahdī Ḥasan al-Shāhjahānpūrī, Mawlānā Ibrāhīm al-Balyāwī, and Muftī Maḥmūd al-Ḥasan al-Gangohī, may Allah have mercy on them all.
Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Musa’s intense love for the scholars of the sacred sciences was universal. He loved all the ʿulamā and propagators of the faith. Like Mawlānā Amin’s mother, his father was incredibly hospitable, inviting guests to his house even when there was practically nothing available to serve. Ḥaḍrat was deeply enthusiastic about the practice of spiritual retreat (iʿtikāf) in the month of Ramaḍān. Like his teacher, Shaykh al-Islam Ḥusayn Aḥmad al-Madanī, Ḥaḍrat would perform the iʿtikāf every year without fail. He had similarly fallen in love with the Ḥajj pilgrimage later in life and was blessed by Allah to perform the pilgrimage every year for twelve consecutive years. A poor childhood and an educational journey full of hardship meant that Haḍrat had an incredible appreciation for sacred knowledge, its bearers, and those who spent their lives in the service of Islam. To him, collaborative organizations and political platforms were not as meaningful as serious and tireless service of the community and Islam. After his migration to the United Kingdom, Ḥaḍrat would be the catalyst for the UK tours of some of the great spiritual and intellectual figures of India, such as Qārī Muḥammad Ṭayyib al-Qāsimī and Mawlānā Masīḥ Allāh Khān al-Shirwānī, may Allah have mercy on them. Having roomed with Qāḍī Mujāhid al-Islām al-Qāsimī and Mawlānā Asʿad al-Madanī (the son of Shaykh al-Islam al-Madanī) in Deoband, Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Musa was very close to Mawlānā Asʿad and maintained an intimate relationship with him throughout his life.
Academic and Spiritual Background
Shaykh Mohammed Amin Kholwadia began his formal Islamic educational journey shortly after having completed his O-level studies in Gloucester, England. He traveled to Gujarat, India in 1975 at the age of 16 where he attended a school in the small village of Taraj (some 12km outside of Dabhel) and completed there the memorization of the noble Qurʾān.
For higher Islamic studies he traveled to the southern Indian city of Bangalore where he enrolled in Dār al-ʿUlūm Sabīl al-Rashād and received his theosophical initiation and instruction from the venerated Mine of Divine Knowledge and master of the spiritual path, Mawlānā Muḥammad Mīrān (may Allah have mercy on him). There Shaykh Amīn was first introduced to the Akbarī path of Islamic spirituality, and during his three years there he explored the philosophy and spiritual teachings of Abū Ḥāmid al-Ghazālī, Muḥy al-Dīn Ibn ʿArabī, and ʿAbd al-Wahhāb al-Shaʿrānī, may Allah have mercy on them. He also received certification (ijāzah) in the recitation (qirāʾah) of Ḥafṣ from Qārī Riyāḍ al-Raḥmān who taught him al-Muqaddamah al-Jazariyyah and listened to his entire Qurʾān recitation in Ḥafṣ before granting certification.
Later, Shaykh Amīn traveled to Karachi and enrolled in the Jāmiʿat al-ʿUlūm al-Islāmiyyah in Binnori Town where, due to his intellectual acuity, was able to condense several years of study. There, he studied the Ḥanafī fiqh manual al-Hidāyah with Dr. ʿAbd al-Razzāq Iskandar and Tafsīr al-Jalālayn with Mawlānā Idrīs Mīrathī and Muftī Riḍā al-Ḥaqq, the latter who mentioned to him that the knowledge of Shāh Wālī Allāh al-Dihlawī and Mawlānā Muḥammad Qāsim al-Nānotwī can now be found in the person of Qārī Muḥammad Ṭayyib al-Qāsimī. A newfound desire to study under this greatest theologian as well as poor health drove Shaykh Amin to Deoband in 1979 at the age of 20. There, his health improved and his learning flourished. He studied the Mishkāt al-Maṣābīḥ under Muftī Saʿīd Aḥmad al-Pālanpūrī and Mawlānā Hāshim al-Bukhārī, the third portion of al-Hidāyāh with the uṣūlī jurist Mawlānā Miʿrāj al-Ḥaqq, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim under Mawlānā Muḥammad Naʿīm, and Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī under Mawlānā Anẓar Shāh al-Kashmīrī, Mawlānā Naṣīr Aḥmad Khān al-Barnī, and Mawlānā Muḥammad Sālim al-Qāsimī, the latter under whom he also studied Sharḥ ʿAqāʾid al-Nasafiyyah. During his stay in Deoband, Shaykh Amin was fortunate to enjoy the spiritual lessons and company of Qārī Muḥammad Ṭayyib al-Qāsimī, the grandson of Dār al-ʿUlūm’s founder, Mawlānā Muḥammad Qāsim al-Nānotwī, from whom he also received formal ijāzah in ḥadith.
After Deoband, Shaykh Amin continued his educational journey, traveling to Jalālabād, India, where he studied Ṣāḥīḥ al-Bukhārī again for some months, then to Bihār where he began iftāʾ and qaḍāʾ training under the acclaimed scholar of Islamic law, Qāḍī Mujāhid al-Islām al-Qāṣimī, and received ijāzah in iftāʾ from him.
Later, Shaykh Amīn returned to Bangalore where he received certification (ijāzah) and deputyship (khilāfah) in taṣawwuf from his shaykh Mawlānā Muḥammad Mīrān. Upon returning to the UK, Shaykh Amin met ʿAllāmah Khālid Maḥmūd, who reintroduced him to the rich thought of Abū Ḥanīfah and Ḥanafī fiqh and trained him in the legal theory and methodology of the madhhab. ʿAllāmah Khālid Maḥmūd’s confidence in his student can be best summarized by his public statement, “I have written a book of knowledge. If you would like to read it, it is Mawlānā Amin.”
Career and Service
After completing his studies and returning to his home in England, Shaykh Amin worked as a professional translator and book reviewer. He relocated to Chicago in 1984 and since his arrival has served as a Muslim scholar in various capacities: as a community leader, teacher, and as an advisor for Muslim schools, organizations, and the Council of Religious Leaders of Greater Chicagoland.
Among his well-known published works are Islamic Finance: What it is and what it could be, co-authored and published in England, a translation of Muftī Muḥammad Taqī Usmānī’s Taqlīd kī Sharʿī Ḥaythiyyat entitled The Legal Status of Following a Madhab, and a book on Qur’anic exegesis entitled A Spark From the Dynamo of Prophethood. He has also translated the first volume and a half of Tafsīr Ibn Kathīr, and is currently working on a book on Ghazalian eschatology (al-Ḥikmah fi Khalq al-Insān).
Amongst his published and co-authored articles in the field of Islamic bioethics are Wilāyah and its Implications for Islamic Bioethics (published in March 2013 in the Journal of Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics), Dire Necessity and Transformation: Entry-Points for Modern Science in Islamic Bioethical Assessment of Porcine Products in Vaccines, Using Fatawa within Islamic and Muslim Bioethical Discourse: the Role of Doctrinal and Theological Considerations – A Case Study of Surrogate Motherhood (from the book, Islam and Bioethics by Vardit Rispler-Chaim Berna Arda), and the encyclopedic entry Physician’s Juristic Role (Oxford Islamic Studies Online, Oxford University Press).
Shaykh Amin’s methodical treatment of contemporary issues is unique – in-depth and comprehensive in analysis, yet concise and simple in explication and prescription. It is an approach that marks all of his discourse and exegeses. It is a process that compels professionals from various disciplines and walks of life to reassess their perception of traditional Islamic knowledge and refocus their objectives through the lens of the sunnah. Such professionals are drawn to the person of Shaykh Amin and many among them make their way into the halls of Darul Qasim, an Islamic institution of higher academic studies founded by the Shaykh in 1998. At Darul Qasim, Shaykh Amin presently serves as Director with a trained faculty studying under and serving alongside him.
Alongside his teaching at Darul Qasim, Shaykh Amin serves in an advisory capacity to academic think tanks and universities such as the University of Michigan and the University of Chicago, and the Initiative on Islam and Medicine. His advice and instruction have been sought in disciplines ranging from Islamic legal theory to Islamic financial theory, and most notably Islamic bioethics. He has also advised many Muslim schools in the United States on the formulation and execution of an Islamic curriculum.
Through all of this, Shaykh Amin is continually engaged at the individual level with a growing following of mentees. He is often found on any given day of the week at the Darul Qasim premises or at surrounding community centers, dispensing spiritual knowledge or offering counsel.
On Falling Leaves
On a quiet summer afternoon in 2002, Shaykh Amin concluded a lecture on the significance of self-annihilation in the lives of the pious predecessors. At the end of the talk, a member of the audience requested the Shaykh to reconcile the apparent paradox in the annihilation of the self with the divine attestation to the status of man above all other creation. Shaykh Amin responded to the question with a metaphor of a leaf that falls from a tree. In the all-encompassing Sight of the Divine that includes everything and excludes nothing, he said, the sophistication of man and man’s superiority over all creation, although acknowledged, is of insignificant magnitude. He went on to say that in relation to the Power and Majesty of Allah Subhanahu wa ta’aala, there would be no substantial difference between a human being and a mere leaf that has reached its term of its existence. All creation is one before the Magnificence of the One Creator. It is this theme that underlies the ideas presented in these lectures.
There is also an allusion here to the symbolism of Darul Qasim as the tree of knowledge. A leaf that is borne by such a tree falls with purpose. It carries words to the ears of those who seek, and lands with all humility in the soil of authentic oral tradition. It mixes and enriches this soil thereby nourishing the very tree that bore it, and thus feeds back into the noble cycle of taqsim.