Imdadullah was born in 1814 in the Nanotah district of Saharanpur, India. His father, Hafiz Muhammad Amin named him Imdad Husain. But when a famous scholar, Shah Muhammad Ishaaq Dehlwi heard this name, he didn’t like it and he changed the name to Imdadullah, which means "Assistance of Allah".
Imdadullah also used call himself the name Khuda Bakhsh (Gift from God). Sometimes he called himself Abdul Kareem (the slave of Kareem).
When Imdadullah was 16 years old, he studied Sarf, Nahw, Persian and one quarter of Mishkaat Shareef by Mamlook Ali Sahib of Delhi. Imdadullah didn’t study Bukhari and the other books of Sihah Sitta, but it is widely believed that Allah blessed Imdadullah with Ilm Ladunni, i.e. knowledge a person "acquires" without effort.
When Haji Imdadullah Muhajir Makki would talk to the Ulama, he would resolve such intricate issues with the insight that Allah Ta’ala had given him. However, he would not use the Istilaahi language (academic terminologies). This is Ilm La Dunni.
When he was 18 years of age he took bayat upon the hands of Maulana Naseeruddin Sahib who was the student and son-in-law of Shah Ishaaq Sahib. When Maulana Naseeruddin Sahib died, Haji Imdadullah Muhajir Makki was looking for another person to give him guidance and advice in life.
This is where we learn of the famous Sheikh and the spiritual guide, Hadhrat Maulana Mayanji Noor Muhammad (Rahmatullahi Alayhi). Haji Sahib took bayat on his hands. At the age of 28, Haji Imdadullah performed Hajj. When he returned after Hajj, his heart and mind remained attached to the Haram Shareef. He had a burning desire to return to Mecca. When he returned from Hajj, he made a firm intention that one day he will make Hijrah and go back to Mecca.
Haji Imdadullah Muhajir Makki came back to his town in a place near Thana Bhawan.
There is an incident of four Mohammads who were experts in Hadith and Tafseer; Muhammad ibn Jareer Tabri, Mohammad ibn Haroon, Mohammad ibn Nasaf and Mohammad ibn Ishaaq. These four Mohammads were traveling and became stranded. They conducted a raffle among themselves for the person who will be responsible to arrange for food. The name of Mohammad ibn Ishaaq came out.
Mohammad ibn Ishaaq never spread his hands before anybody. So he engaged himself in salaah. Suddenly, one person tapped at the door and he asked for Mohammad ibn Jareer. The person then presented fifty riyals for him on behalf of the governor of Egypt. He took the name of Mohammad ibn Haroon and presented fifty riyals for him. He gave Mohammad ibn Nasaf Zafar fifty riyals. He also gave Mohammad ibn Ishaaq fifty riyals. Then he said that the governor of Egypt was sleeping and in his sleep he was ordered to assist four Mohammads that are stranded.
Haji Imdadullah was also stranded. He says that he knew that this was a test from the side of Allah. If you love the Haram Shareef, you have to undergo difficulties and hardships, so you pay the price to be there. Haji Sahib became very popular in the Arab world.
There were approximately 500 or more Ulama who have taken bayat upon the hands of Haji Imdadullah Sahib. Not one Alim, 10 Alims or 100 but 500 Ulama. When we look at the lives of the Akaabir we don’t find so many Ulama who have taken bayat upon somebody who outwardly and apparently has very little traditional knowledge.
Once, a ghayr muqallid who used to make Raful yadain and Ameen bil Jahr took bayat with Haji Imdadullah. The moment he took bayat he stopped raful Yadain and Ameen bil Jahr. Haji Sahib called him and said to him, “Before this you were making Raful Yadain and Ameen bil Jahr, why did you stop?” “Because you took bayat on my hands?” “Brother, if you stopped that because you took bayat on my hands, then don’t do that because that is also proven from the hadith. So if you stopped it because of me then you carry on doing that. But if you stopped it on your own and not because you have taken bayat upon my hands, then I understand.”
Another person who was very close to Haji Imdadullah was Maulana Rahmatullah Kiranwi. He was a very powerful orator. The British were also looking for him. He also escaped and reached Mecca with Haji Sahib. Ahmed Deedat benefited from the book Izhaarul Haqq of Maulana Rahmatullah Kiranwi.
There is a Madressah named Madressah Saulatiyyah in Mecca. Saulatiyyah is derived from the word Saulat. When Maulana was going to Mecca he requested some people for help to establish a Madressah in Mecca. So one woman from Calcutta, Saulat, gave money. Maulana established the Madressah in Mecca with her money and that is why the Madressah is named Saulatiyyah. Maulana Rahmatullah Kiranwi stayed very close to Haji Sahib in Makkah Mukarramah and that is where both of them died.
Haji Imdadullah died in 1896 at the age of 84. In his inheritance he had one stick, two sets of winter clothes and two sets of summer clothes. Haji Imdadullah Muhaajir Makki is buried in Mecca in Jannatul Maala.