In the aftermath of the Uprising of 1857, Deoband rose to prominence as a symbol of defiance to British colonialism. Espousing the tradition of the Waliullahi family, today, the prestigious Darul 'Ulum Deoband seminary boasts thousands of branches within the Subcontinent and hundreds of affiliate institutions (madrasas) worldwide. Many academic works have covered the political, ideological, and historical background of the movement but much remains to be written on the personal lives of the fathers who founded the movement and the sons who propagated its rich legacy for later generations. Among the sons of Deoband, Shaykh ul hadith Muhammad Zakariyya is the leading authority on the Elders of Deoband. In this private correspondence, he offers a closer look into the personal lives of the Elders and how they led their beautiful lives in light of the four pillars of Islam. He suggests that the triumphs of the Deoband thought owe to their piety, taqwa, and selflessness.
The author was born in Kandhela, U.P. India in 1898. He quickly rose to eminence as a hadith master and was crowned the title of Shaykh ul hadith by the muhaddith and his teacher Maulana Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri. He is the author of the twenty-two-volume work Aujaz al-Masalik on the Muwatta' of Imam Malik, al-Kaukab al-Durriy (commentary on Abu Dawud), and numerous other hadith works. As a great Sufi who received authorization from Maulana Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri, he also traveled far and wide to spread the dhikr of Allah and revive the Sunna. From 1965, he established the collective i'tikaf system in Ramadan and personally completed 31 Qur'an every Ramadan. He passed away in Madina Munawwara in 1982 and is buried in Jannat al-Baqi near the graves of the Ahle Bayt.