Mawlana Hamid al-Din Farahi was born in 1280 A.H in Pehriha, a village in district Azamgarh, UP, India. Mawlana’s family was amongst the well respected families of the district that were at that time, known for their education and worldly wisdom. Mawlana Hamid al-Din Farahi and Mawlana Shibli Nu‘mani were maternal first cousins.Mawlana received his early education at home. At the onset he memorized (hifz) the Qur’an, after which he learnt Persian and very soon became so well versed in the same that he began composing poetry in it. He learnt Arabic mostly from Mawlana Shibli Nu‘mani.
After his indoctrination at the hands of Mawlana Shibli Nu‘mani, he decided to become beneficiary of the circle of the intellectual maestros. For a short period of time he participated in Mawlana Abdul Hai’s teaching sessions, but from the very beginning his nature was more research inclined and Mawlana Shibli’s company had helped accentuate this aspect of his interest.
At the age of twenty, after completing his lessons in Arabic and religious studies, he took admission in Aligarh College to learn English.
While at Aligarh besides English and other subjects he gave special attention to Modern philosophy and excelled in it. He received a BA degree from Allahabad University and although he prepared for MA but he did not sit for this examination.
Since the Mawlana belonged to a well to do family he was not dependent on employment for a living but due to some personal reasons, after the completion of his education, thought it was best to do so. He got appointed as professor of Arabic at Madrasah tul Islam Karachi as his first teaching assignment. He worked there for many years.
During this time in 1900, the viceroy for India, Lord Curzon, decided to travel to the Arabian coast and Persian Gulf to improve political relations with the Arab chiefs. While traveling, he needed the services of an individual who was fluent in English and Arabic and could be his aide. For this task the Mawlana was selected.
On his return from this travel assignment, Mawlana was appointed professor of Arabic in Aligarh. After residing in Aligarh for a few years, Mawlana was appointed professor of Arabic at Allahbad University and was later transferred to Hyderabad as Principal Dar-ul Uloom. Hyderabad was at the time the largest government run seminary, training individuals for different departments of the government.
After resigning from this job assignment, he came back to his native land, and since he was now relatively free, began to focus on Madrasah tul Islah and Darul Musanifin. He had always directly looked after the matters relating to administration, academics and teaching at these institutions from the very beginning. Madrasah tul Islah is a school for religious studies in a small town, Sara-e Mir, District Azamgarh, UP, India. This institute has been founded on the educational ideology presented by Mawlana Hamid al-Din Farahi and Mawlana Shibli Nu‘mani. The focus being research based education in Arabic literature and the Holy Qur’an. For the last many years this institution has been serving this very mission and he devoted a great deal of time and effort for the service of this institution.
Although, during his life, the Mawlana’s health was exceptionally good and he exercised regularly, but two diseases pulled him down time and again. Headaches were one, and whenever he had an attack he was totally incapacitated. The other was renal obstruction. He encountered this second ailment many times and following the last relapse, had to be operated upon. For this surgery he went from Azamgarh to Mithra where this operation was conducted but proved unsuccessful. He passed away on November 11, 1930, and was buried in a graveyard for the commoners.