Moulana Muhammad Yousuf Banuri R.A. was born on the 6th Rabiuth Thani 1326 in the village of 'Mahabatabad' near the railway station of Rashkay in the District of Mardan, West Pakistan.
He received his primary education and learnt the recital of the Quraan Kareem at home (Ghari Meer Ahmed Shah, Peshawar') from his father and matenal uncle Moulana Fadhl Hamdan Banuri. He learned the basics of Sarf, Nahw and Mantiq from Moulana Abdullah Peshawari. He then went to Kabul where he studied Fiqh, Usul Fiqh, Mantiq, and Ma’aani etc. from the Qudhi ul Qudhat, Moulana Abdulqadeer, Moulana Saieli Qaleeghawi and other well-versed Asaatiza. For higher education, he went to Darul Uloom, Deoband in 1345 and completed his education there in two years. He studied Dorah Hadith in Dabhel under the great Moulana Anwar Shah Kashmiri R.A., Moulana Shabbir Ahmed Utmani R.A. and other great-learned scholars.
After graduation, he stayed for quite some time in the company and service of the learned Shaykh Moulana Anwar Shah Kashmiri R.A. and was his special and close attendant. He benefited tremendously from Shah Saheb. At that time on the wish and insistence of his father, he participated in the Molvi Fadhil examinations at the Punjab University and attained first position, though he disliked this examination, in spite of having time to prepare for it. He then lived for a few years in his home town of Peshawar, and began diligently teaching in Madrasah Rafiul Islam, Baanah Maar'i (The principal of this Madrasah was his maternal uncle Moulana Fadhl Hamdan Banuri R.A.) I was at that time studying Dorah Hadith in Darul Uloom, Deoband. In 1352 (1934 A.D.) when Moulana Anwar Shah Saheb passed away, Moulana Yousuf Banuri came to pay his respects and after staying for a few days returned. Thereafter he was approached by the authorities of Dabhel to teach there, and he accepted the offer.
He was appointed to teach Kitaabs on Hadith. His acceptance amongst the students can be gauged from the following incident: Once there arose the question as to who should teach the Tirmizi Shareef. At that time, there were three great Asaatiza of Hadith at the Dabhel Madrasah.
Moulana Abdurrahman Amrohi.
Moulana Muhammad Badre Aalam, and
Moulana Yousuf Banuri.
It was decided that the students also be consulted in this matter. As a result, Moulana Yousuf Banuri received 27 votes and the other two Ustaad, 7 and 3 respectively.
Marhum Moulana remained the Shaykhul Hadith at Dabhel until the creation of Pakistan and thereafter, at the invitation of the elders at Darul Uloom, Tando Allah Yar, went there. After remaining there for several years he came to Karachi and laid the foundation of' the Madrasah Arabiyyah lslamiyyah, Newtown. Karachi.
Before coming to Dabhel, he was Director General of the Jamiatul Ulama - Frontier Province and took an active part in politics. He took interest in politics while at Dabhel too. After the creation of Pakistan, he abstained completely from politics and spent all his time in education and the spiritual and social upliftment of the Ummah. Alhamdulilah, he had great respect and continued to keep his contacts with the elders of Deoband. During his first Hajj (after which he went to Egypt to supervise the printing of the 'Faydhul Baari' and 'Nasbur Raayah') he took the Bay'ah at the hand of Moulana Shafi'uddin Naginwi Makki (who was the Majaaz of Haji Imdadullah R.A.) Moulana Naginwi RA said that there are two great personalities in India, from whomever you wish, seek and attain benefit. The first is Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi R.A. and the other is Moulana Husayn Ahmed Madani R.A. Moulana Yousuf Saheb was more inclined towards Moulana Husayn Ahmed Madani R.A.
Moulana Yousuf Banuri R.A. stayed for ten months in Cairo. During his stay there, he wrote many articles on Deoband and its elders for the Egyptian journals and periodicals. During that period, Allama Zahid Al-Kowthari was also living there. Marhum Moulana had a close association with him and benefited greatly from his knowledge. He also introduced the elders of Deoband and their educational works to him. As a result, Shaykh Kowthari requested Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi to grant him permission on his Sanad of Hadith, which Moulana Thanwi kindly did.
When Marhum Moulana Yousuf Saheb returned from Egypt he went to visit Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi R.A., who became very impressed with him. Later, Moulana Thanwi R.A. included him in his Majaazeene Suhbat.
It was my practice, after graduation, to go to Deoband every year in Sha'baan to participate in the Bukhari Khatam there. Moulana had just returned from Egypt when I was deciding to go to Deoband. He gave me a letter for Moulana Husayn Ahmed Madani R.A., wherein he stated his desire to make Bay'ah at his hands, and requested me to personally hand it to him and bring back the reply. I reached Deoband and delivered the letter to Moulana Madani RA. He replied: 'His matter of Bay'ah is with Moulana Thanwi, and how can.1 repeat it?' I explained the situation to him whereupon he replied: 'When you have time remind me'. (During that time, Moulana was busily occupied in teaching the Bukhari Shareef day and night) On the 29th Sha'baan at half past two at night he completed the Bukhari Shareef. Immediately thereafter, he left for Saharanpur to go to Sylhet. I accompanied him till Saharanpur and reminded him of the answer to the letter. He immediately wrote a reply on the station platform and gave it to me. I delivered the reply to Moulana Yousuf Banuri. The letter was published some months ago in the 'Bayyinaat' monthly.
Marhum Moulana had a special proficiency and intellect for writing. He possessed a unique style, and wrote easily without tiring on every subject. At times after writing, he did not re-read the article. Moulana was more proficient in Arabic than Urdu. Besides the 'Basaa'ir wa Ibar' in the monthly 'Bayyinaat' and a few Urdu articles, all his literary compositions were in Arabic. (He was a member of the Majma'ul ilmi Al-Arabi of Damascus). These are some of his main works:
1. Ma'aarifus Sunan, commentary on Tirmizi in 6 volumes.
2. Awaariful Minan, introduction to Ma'aarifus Sunan (not printed).
3. Bughiyatul Areeb fi Ahkaamul Qiblah wal Mahaareeb.
4. Nafhatul Ambar fi Hayatus Shaykh Anwar.
5. Yateematul Bayaan fi Shay'im min Ulumil Qur'aan. He wrote introduction for the following Kitaabs: Faydhul Baari, Nasbur Raayah, Abaqaat, Aqeedatul Islam, Maqalaat Kowthari, etc. etc.
Marhum Moulana was very courageous and spoke the Haq. He put forward his outspoken views without fear or hesitation during the reign of every government, saying that one should only fear Allah the Almighty. The 'Basaa'ir wa Ibar' of the Bayyinaat are a clear testimony to his frankness in expressing the truth.
May Allah Most High shower him with His abundant blessings. Ameen.
Maulana Muhammad Ayyub Jan Banuri
Bayyinaat Zulhijjah 1397