Shaykh Mohammed Amin Kholwadia has been called Muslim America’s greatest hidden jewel primarily owing to his deep knowledge in the Islamic tradition and aggressive engagement of and preoccupation with contemporary issues facing everyday Muslims in the West. Shaykh Amin, as he is fondly called by his students, reflects the full breadth and depth of traditional Islamic knowledge. His is a level of academic accomplishment that traces its roots to the rigor of a classical instruction in the traditional Deobandi schools of Northern India. There, he exhausted himself under the tutelage of some of the brightest minds in Muslim academia. He received his theosophical initiation and instruction from the venerated Mine of Divine Knowledge, Shaykh Mohammed Meeran, at the Sabil al-Rashad Institute in the Southern Indian city of Bangalore.
After completing his studies in the subcontinent in line with the methodologies and curricula of some of the greatest luminaries of our scholarly tradition, Shaykh Amin returned to his home in England and worked as a professional translator and book reviewer. He relocated to Chicago in 1984 and since his arrival, he has served as a Muslim scholar in various capacities and as an advisor for Muslim schools, Muslim 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, and a book on Qur’anic exegesis entitled A Spark From the Dynamo of Prophethood. He is currently working on a book on Ghazalian eschatology.
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 him and serving alongside him. Students of Darul Qasim come away with a first-hand understanding of what true and vetted knowledge is about. They are exposed to a sound and fresh perspective of and respect for the oral tradition, all subject to moderated debate and healthy discourse. Graduates of Darul Qasim learn early on that theirs is a never-ending journey, a realization that is counted among the provisions of one embarking on a quest for more knowledge.
Along with his teachings 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. His advice and instruction have been sought in disciplines ranging from Islamic legal theory to Islamic financial theory, and most notably Islamic bioethics. Shaykh Amin is regarded internationally as an expert theologian and an authority in the fields of Islamic philosophy and theosophy. 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.
Alhamdulillah the Muslim community of the Greater Chicago area is fortunate to have Shaykh Amin in their midst. In him is a resource that embodies the true nature of scholarship, giving generously of his time and knowledge in the everyday service of Muslims and the dedicated preservation of the Sunnah of the final Messenger, may Allah send his peace and blessings upon him. It is no wonder then that the esteemed Dr. Umar Faruq AbdAllah (may Allah protect him), at one of his many eloquent addresses at Darul Qasim, referred to Shaykh Amin as the Polaris of the Ummah.
May Allah always preserve and protect Shaykh Amin and bless his tireless efforts.
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.