Mufti Muhammad Akhtar Raza Khan is the leader of the Indian Barelwis and considered by his followers as the Grand Mufti of India. He is the great-grandson and successor of one of the most influential sub-continental Islamic scholars in history: Ahmad Raza Khan (d.1921), who founded the Barelwi movement in South Asia.
Spiritual Tradition: Most Muslims from the sub-continent can be categorised as Barelwis (the other major group is known as the Deobandis). This group emphasises the mystical love of the Prophet (PBUH) often expressing this through devotion to a holy personage (who is part of an unbroken chain reaching back to the Prophet (PBUH)), visits to tombs of saints, and use of hamds and naats. To their critics these practices represent the cardinal sins of bid’a (innovation) and shirk (associating another being with God).
Education and Scholarly Lineage: Mufti Akhtar Raza received his basic education at Darul Uloom Manzar-e-Islam in Bareilly, India He then went to Al-Azhar University to study tafsir and hadith (1963-1966). Upon graduation, he was awarded the Jamia Azhar Award by Colonel Jamal Abdul Nasir. He then returned to India and has written numerous books, educated hundreds of scholars, and overseen the development of many educational institutes. He also serves as a spiritual guide, having been given permission by his predecessor Mufti Mustafa Raza Khan to lead the Qaadriya, Barakaatiyah, and Nooriyah Sufi orders in India. He was also appointed to the position of Muslim Chief Justice of India in 2006.
Dynamic Mufti: Mufti Akhtar Raza is esteemed for his extensive collection of English-language rulings, the Azharul Fatawa. He became involved in issuing Islamic rulings from the age of 17 and is noted for having issued over 5,000 rulings.
“For as long as a person does not please his parents, in reality none of his obligatory or superogatory prayers, or any other good deeds is accepted in the Court of Allah.”