Mufti Muhammad Akhtar Raza Khan Qaadiri Al-AzhariBarelwi Leader and Spiritual Guide
Birth: 2 February 1943 (Age: 74)
Source of Influence: Scholarly
Influence: 2 million Barkatiya Barelwis
School of Thought: Hanafi, Traditional Sunni
Status: Featured in current year
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.