Mufti Taqi Usmani’s Critical Review of Mafahim Yajibu an Tusahhah

October 19, 2019

In a recently published collection of Muftī Taqī al-‘Uthmānī’s Arabic articles, under the title Maqālāt al-‘Uthmānī, an article reviewing Shaykh Muḥammad ‘Alawī al-Mālikī’s Mafāhīm Yajibu an Tuṣaḥḥaḥ has been included. The article was originally written in the 1980s and then published in the al-Balāgh journal with an explanatory note in the mid-1990s. (The review article is translated below.)

As an introduction to the review, Muftī Taqī al-‘Uthmānī writes:

The book Mafāhīm Yajibu an Tuṣaḥḥaḥ by Shaykh Muḥammad al-‘Alawī al-Mālikī has become a subject of debate and disagreement in some academic circles at the present time. The debate became more intense and argumentations increased upon the publication of its Urdu translation. My endorsement was something of an evidence and argument for some and a cause of doubts and misunderstandings for others. Thus, I felt it best to publish it prefaced with this explanatory introduction to clarify the matter and remove the veil from the reality of the issue.

It is known that the author of this book Shaykh Muḥammad al-‘Alawī al-Mālikī is the son of Shaykh Sayyid al-‘Alawī, who was from the notables amongst the great scholars of Makkah al-Mukarramah. He had connections and links with the scholars of India and Pakistan, amongst whom were my respected father Muftī Muḥammad Shafī‘ and Shaykh Muḥammad Yūsuf al-Bannūrī (Allāh have mercy on them). Because of these links, his son spent some time in Pakistan acquiring the religious sciences at the hands of these scholars. Thus, studying with both my respected father and Shaykh al-Bannūrī (Allāh have mercy on them) was decreed for him. In that period, some meetings and visits occurred between myself and him which had ended with his return to Saudi Arabia, after which there was no communication between us for an extended period.

Some years ago, I unexpectedly received a phone call from him in which he informed me that he is coming to Karachi, on the route to returning to Saudi Arabic from Indonesia, only to visit me for an important task of his. He came to the Dār al-‘Ulūm in the company of the respected Shaykh ‘Abd al-Ḥafīẓ al-Makkī (Allāh preserve him), and he informed me that he wrote a book called Mafāhīm Yajibu an Tuṣaḥḥaḥ to clarify and verify serious issues that had become areas of harshness and extremism amongst some scholars and that he requested from me and my respected brother Muftī Muḥammad Rafī‘ al-‘Uthmānī (Allāh preserve him) a written endorsement of it.

It happened that I was at that time very busy, and I had plans to travel the next day. I apologised to him explaining that these obligations do not allow me to read it such that I can fulfil its due in giving an endorsement. He presented to me the endorsements of some Arab and Pakistani scholars certifying the book and praising it greatly. He asked me to do one of two things, explaining that doing either of them will not take up much time: signing one of those write-ups, or writing down some words to certify the book and agreeing with it based on those endorsements. I responded by apologising a second time, saying that I respect and revere these scholars, but endorsement is a trust and it is not allowed for me to express a positive opinion of the book without reading it and having knowledge of its contents. He agreed to this and insisted that I spare some time to take a glance at the book and then endorse it. In response to his insistence, I studied his important discussions despite the opportunities to doing so being limited. I discovered in it correct matters that deserve praise and support, just as some criticisms of it surfaced to me. I called him by phone informing him that I cannot endorse the book and certify it completely since some criticisms and objections to it surfaced to me while studying it. He asked me to include those criticisms in my endorsement. I said this would only be possible if you include my endorsement in its entirety in your book without any cutting or editing. He agreed to this. So I wrote an article in which I tried to explain both dimensions of the book: its positives and the criticisms on it. My respected brother Shaykh Muftī Muḥammad Rafī al-‘Uthmānī studied those discussions himself and held the same opinion as myself on the book and signed the same [review] article. We sent over the article to the respected author. I remained waiting for it to be published in the next edition of his book, but he, as far as I know, did not publish it yet despite its continuous publication.

It is worth mentioning that I wrote this endorsement quickly and while having many obligations and sufficed in it with brief pointers, and it was not my intent at that point to comment on every part of the book. Thus, it would not be farfetched that there are other places of the book that can be critiqued or objected to besides what I have mentioned in this article. Allāh (Glorified is He) gives direction.

Muḥammad Taqī al-‘Uthmānī

(Maqālāt al-‘Uthmānī, p. 76-8)

A translation of the review is as follows:

All praise belongs to Allāh, Lord of the Worlds, and blessings and peace be upon our leader and our master Muḥammad, the trustworthy prophet, and on his progeny and all his companions, and on all who follow them in excellence to the Day of Recompense.

To proceed:

The noble brother, the respected scholar, the researcher, Shaykh Sayyid Muḥammad al-‘Alawī al-Mālikī (Allāh preserve him and maintain him) requested from us that I offer to him my opinion on his book Mafāhīm Yajibu an Tuṣaḥḥaḥ. This was only because of his humbleness before Allāh and his love for knowledge and its seekers and his search for truth and accuracy as he is from a learned and noble family, more esteemed than being in need of praise from the likes of us for their works. His father (Allāh have mercy on him) is recognised in the Islāmic world for his knowledge, virtue, scrupulousness and piety. And indeed he, by Allāh’s grace, is an excellent successor of an excellent predecessor. However, it is a privilege for us to write these lines in obedience to his command, and hoping for his supplications, and expressing the happiness and pleasure that overcame us from most of his discussions, and what occurred to us of criticisms in some other parts.

The topics that the author discussed in this book are dangerous topics, in which excess and negligence have appeared [amongst the Muslims] that has divided the word of the Muslims and has caused disunity and strife amongst them from which every believing heart would be hurt. Rarely would it be found that someone assesses these issues with balance and justice, and puts everything in its place, walking the path of fairness, and avoiding excess and negligence.

Many such issues are secondary, theoretical matters and not the basis of faith, and not a criterion between Islām and disbelief. On the contrary, some of them will not be questioned about in the grave nor at the resurrection nor the reckoning, and if a man were not to know of them for his entire life, that will not diminish his religion and faith the weight of a mustard seed – for example, the reality and nature of the intermediary life, and other such purely theoretical and philosophical matters. However, it is very unfortunate that when discussion and argumentation on these matters increased, these issues came to be like the primary objectives of religion or from the foundational creeds of Islām. Hence, some people displayed extremism in such matters, accusing those who oppose their view of disbelief, polytheism and deviance. This narrow mindset is often forgiving of the destructive currents attacking the foundations of Islām, but is avid over these secondary theoretical matters more than its avidness in tackling pure apostasy, absolute lawlessness, open profligacy and abominations imported from the disbelievers and outsiders.

Our brother, ‘Allāmah Sayyid Muḥammad al-‘Alawi al-Maliki (Allāh protect him), spoke regarding this narrow mentality with guided speech, and established that those who believe in what is necessarily known to be from religion may not be anathematised because of his preference of some views on which there are disagreements amongst the scholars of Islām, both past and present.

Then he spoke about some of these secondary issues on which disagreement occurred amongst the Muslims, and some of them attacked others because of them with declarations of disbelief and deviance, like the issue of tawassul in supplication, and travelling to visit the grave of the Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace), and tabarruk (taking blessings) from the relics of the prophets and companions and pious, and the reality of prophethood, humanity and the intermediary life. The position that he preferred in these matters is a safe position supported by bright proofs from the Book and Sunnah and the actions of the companions and successors and pious predecessors. He proved with clear proofs that one who allows tawassul in supplication and tabarruk from the relics of the prophets and pious or he travels to visit the grave of the Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) and believes it is from the greatest of rewards, or believes in the life of the prophets in the graves with an intermediary life which exceeds the intermediary life attained by others, he has not acquired any sin, let alone having committed polytheism or disbelief, since all of these are established by evidences of the Qur’ān and Sunnah and the inherited practice of the pious predecessors and the sayings of the majority of the firmly grounded scholars in every age.

Similarly, the author spoke about the Ash‘arīs and their method of interpreting the divine attributes. There is no doubt that the safest position in this is what the ḥadīth-masters have expressed in their statement: “Pass them over without how,” but figurative interpretation is an approach reached by the ijtihād of the Ash‘arīs to preserve Allāh’s transcendence and oppose assimilation, and nothing led them to this but their strong adherence to the belief of tawḥīd and their avoidance of any trace of corporealism, and many of the great scholars of the past chose this path, whose excellence none but an ignoramus or obstinate person will dispute. So how is it possible to accuse the Ash‘arīs of disbelief and deviance? And expel them from the fold of Ahl al-Sunnah and put them in the category of the Mu‘tazila and Jahmiyya?! Allāh protect us from this!

How wonderful is what our brother, the author, said in this respect: “Is it not enough for the opponent to say that they (Allāh have mercy on them) did ijtihād and erred in the interpretation of the attributes, and it would have been better if they did not tread this path, instead of accusing them of deviance and becoming annoyed at those who consider them from the Ahl al-Sunnah?” (p.39)

This methodology which the author adopted in these matters is a balanced methodology which if the Muslims chose in their secondary disagreements with complete openness of heart, many of the knots would be untied and many of the efforts which the enemies are undertaking to divide Muslims will fail.

Now, it is necessary to mention the criticisms which came to our minds when reading this book. This stems only from fulfilling the obligation of love and goodwill for the sake of Allāh, and obedience to the command of the author himself. They are as follows:

    1. The topics which the author (Allāh preserve him) discussed are dangerous topics, which have become very sensitive, and the excess and negligence that have occurred in them have occurred, and renovating one part may spoil another part, and focusing on one aspect may sacrifice the right of another aspect. So, it is necessary on one speaking about these issues to take extreme precaution, and keep in mind both sides, and be on guard that anybody misuse his words for falsehood.

Since this book is for the purpose of refuting the extremism of anathematising the Muslims and accusing them of polytheism due to venerating and loving the noble Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) and the saints and pious, it is natural that there will not be a detailed refutation of those who are extreme in their veneration to such a degree of extremism that is prohibited in the Book and Sunnah and by the scholars of the Sharī‘ah in every age and place, but despite this, it is necessary, as far as I am concerned, in view of the seriousness of the topic, that this side is also touched on, even if briefly, so that those who transgress the bounds in this veneration to what, at the very least, leads to suspecting polytheism is refuted.

    1. We found in some parts of the book brevity in some important issues which may be misunderstood by some people, so they may argue from that something that was not originally meant, and exploit it to support some false beliefs. From them is the issue of ‘ilm al-ghayb as the author (Allāh preserve him) quickly passed over it and mentioned that ‘ilm al-ghayb is for Allāh (Glorified and Exalted is He) and then said after this: “It is established that Allāh Most High taught His Prophet from the ghayb what He taught him, and gave him what he gave him.” (p.91) This speech is true, and is meant the plentiful news of the ghayb which Allāh (Glorified and Exalted is He) revealed to His Noble Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace). However, some people don’t stop at attributing these news to him (Allāh bless him and grant him peace), but say clearly that he (upon him peace) is knower of the ghayb with an exhaustive knowledge of all that was and will be to the establishment of the Hour, so we fear that this general statement will leave the possibility of this false interpretation which the scholars of Ahl al-Sunnah have been refuting for a long time.
    1. Similarly the author said about our Noble Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) that “he is alive in the two abodes, with constant attention towards his ummah, freely-disposing by Allāh’s will in their affairs, aware of their conditions, the blessings of blessers from his ummah being shown to him and their salutations being conveyed to him despite their abundance.” It is clear he does not mean by disposition complete absolute disposition, nor by him being aware of their conditions encompassing knowledge of all particulars, as this is baseless and not from the beliefs of Ahl al-Sunnah. He only intended some particular activities that are established specifically, as is clear from his giving the example of blessings and peace being shown to him and his response to them. But we fear that this expression suggests the opposite of this intent, and will be misused by some extremists from the other side.
    1. The author did brilliantly as we previously indicated in his precaution in the matter of anathematisation of a Muslim, so a Muslim is not be anathematised as long as there is a sound interpretation for his speech or an interpretation that does not necessitate anathematisation at the least. However, anathematisation is one thing and preventing a person from using baseless words or suggestive words is another thing. Precaution in anathematising is withholding from it as long as there is an escape from it, but precaution in the second matter is preventing the likes of these words absolutely.

From this is the statement of the author: “The speaker saying ‘O Prophet of Allāh cure me and repay my debt,’ if it were supposed that one said this, he only meant: ‘Intercede for my cure and pray for the repayment of my debt and turn to Allāh in my affair.’ Thus, they are not asking from him except what Allāh has made them capable of and given them control over of supplication and intercession…and thus such an attribution in the speech of people is from the [rhetorical style of] majāz ‘aqlī (metaphor).” (p.95) This is a good interpretation to prevent anathematisation which is from the aspect of holding a good opinion of believers. However, good opinion only arises in one who does not deny this interpretation of his speech. As for the one who does not himself approve of this interpretation as is a reality in some people as far as I am aware, how can his speech be interpreted in a way he himself does not approve?

Furthermore, although such interpretation is sufficient in preventing anathematisation of the speaker, should such words be encouraged? Never! Rather, this should be forbidden to prevent ambiguity and resemblance [with polytheism] at the very least, as the Messenger of Allāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) forbade the word “my slave” for a bondman due to it being suggestive [of polytheism]. Therefore, it is necessary according to me for those who seek interpretations for these speakers to state clearly that it is forbidden so that this interpretation does not encourage them to use such suggestive words, for indeed “the one who grazes around the borders, almost falls in it”. The same is said about tawassul in the form of a vocation, and of the unrestricted usage of “reliever of distresses” (mufarrij al-kurubāt) and “fulfiller of needs” (qāḍī al-ḥājāt) for other than Allāh (Glorified and Exalted is He).

    1. The author mentioned that bid‘ah divides into two categories: good and evil, disapproving of the latter and not the first. This division is correct with respect to the linguistic meaning of the word bid‘ah, and in this sense, it was used by al-Fārūq al-A‘ẓam when he said : “What a brilliant bid‘ah this is!” As for bid‘ah in its technical sense, it is only evil, and in this sense Allāh’s Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) said: “Every bid‘ah is misguidance” as narrated by Muslim.
    1. The author (Allāh preserve him) was successful in describing the prophetic distinctions when he said: “Although the prophets are human beings who eat and drink…and are subject to the temporary states which overcome human beings of weakness, old age and death, but they are distinguished by special characteristics and are characterised by lofty and magnificent attributes which are with respect to them from the most necessary of necessities…” (p.127)

Then he mentioned a number of these special characteristics, especially the special characteristics of the Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace), so no one can claim that he (upon him blessing and peace) is equal to other than him in attributes and states – protection is from Allāh! The truth is that his (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) special characteristics are beyond what we are able to comprehend, but we believe that the Messenger of Allāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) is more esteemed than us needing [to use] weak narrations to establish his distinctions, for his distinctions that are established in the Qur’ān and sound Sunnah are more in number, higher in status and stronger in affecting the hearts than the distinctions that are mentioned in some weak narrations like what is narrated that he had no shadow in the sunlight or moonlight, as it is a weak narration according the majority of the scholars and ḥadīth-masters.

    1. The author (Allāh protect him) said: “Gathering for the purpose of the noble prophetic birth is nothing but a customary practice, and is not at all part of worship, and this is what we believe and take as our religion before Allāh Most High.” Then he said: “We announce that specifying one night besides another for this gathering is the greatest estrangement from the Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace).”

There is no doubt that commemorating the Noble Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) and describing his biography is from the greatest of blessings and the most virtuous of fortunes when it is not restricted to a day or date, nor is the belief of worship associated with it in gathering on a particular day in a particular form. Thus, gathering to commemorate the Messenger of Allāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) with these conditions is in essence permissible, not deserving of condemnation or blame.

However, there is another approach adopted by many verifying and scrupulous scholars, which is that this gathering, although permissible in itself, many people believe it is from the objective acts of worship or from the religious obligations, and they specify for it specific days, along with what some of them mix with it of false beliefs and impermissible practices. Moreover, it is difficult for the general people to observe the subtle differences between custom and worship. Hence, if these scholars, by observing these matters, the importance of which cannot be denied, chose to prevent such gatherings, observing the principle of “blocking the means,” and recognising that repelling harms is favoured over attaining benefit, then they are holding firm to proofs of the Sharī‘ah, and thus do not deserve condemnation or blame. The course in these matters is like the course in matters which are open to differences in ijtihād, every man encouraging and giving fatwā according to what he believes to be true, and seeks Allāh’s reward according to it, and at the same time not shooting the arrows of criticism at another scholar who holds an opposing view.

In sum, the respected scholar, the researcher, Sayyid Muḥammad ‘Alawi al-Maliki (Allāh Almighty preserve him and benefit by him Islām and the Muslims) despite some of these criticisms, has assessed in this book many issues which were misunderstood by some people, and offered their correct understandings and their proofs from the Book and Sunnah. I wish that his book is studied with the eye of fairness and the spirit of mutual understanding, not with the objective of argumentation and quarrelling. I ask Allāh Most High to enable us and all Muslims to stand with justice as witnesses to Allāh even against ourselves. Verily, He Most High is Near, Ever-Responding to callers. May Allāh Most High bless our master and our leader, Muḥammad, and his progeny and all his companions.

Muḥammad Taqī al-‘Uthmāni, servant of the students of Dar al-‘Ulūm Karāchī

Muftī Muḥammad Rafī‘ al-‘Uthmāni, headmaster of Dar al-‘Ulūm Karāchī

(Maqālāt al-‘Uthmānī, p. 79-86)


Shah ‘Abdul ‘Aziz Dehlawi on Istighathah

October 16, 2019

Some Barelwis writing online have misquoted/misinterpreted a fatwa of Shah ‘Abdul ‘Aziz Dehlawi on istighathah.

The clear position of Shah Waliyyullah Dehlawi, his father, was documented in an earlier post; see here. The clear position of Qadi Thana’ullah Panipati, a well-known scholar and student of Shah Waliyyullah al-Dehlawi, and someone admired by Shah ‘Abdul ‘Aziz Dehlawi, was also documented earlier; see here.

The fatwa of Shah ‘Abdul ‘Aziz Dehlawi in reference can be found in his Persian fatwa collection on pages 33-34. A PDF of the fatwa collection can be found here.

The relevant section of the Farsi fatwa together with an Urdu translation and brief commentary can be found on pages 40-41 of Maulana Sarfraz Khan Safdar’s Itmam al-Burhan:

An English translation is as follows:

Seeking help occurs in two ways. One is for creation to seek help from creation just as a worker or beggar seeks help for their needs from the emir or king, and common people get the Awliya to make du‘a [for them] in making a plea to Allah ta‘ala for a certain need. Seeking such help is permissible in Shar’iah whether from the living or dead. 

Second, in those things that Allah is specifically independent in (i.e. those things in which there isn’t even kasb from creation), like granting a child, bringing down rain, preventing (all) illnesses, lengthening life, and similar such things, while not having the intention of it being a du‘a or a plea that will be approved by Allah, creation is asked for help in them. This category is absolutely haram and in fact kufr. If any Muslim asks this type of help from any of the Awliya of religion, whether alive or dead, he will come out of the parameters of being a Muslim.*

As one can see, the distinction Shah ‘Abdul ‘Aziz Dehlawi makes is between matters that are ordinarily within the control of creation and matters that are not. With the latter category, it is not permissible to ask for help, while with the former category, it is.

When Shah ‘Abdul ‘Aziz Dehlawi mentions the permissibility of asking the dead for help, he is referring specifically to requesting them to make du‘a, which is not something Deobandis reject (see here). Barelwis who take this to mean it is permissible to seek help directly from the deceased, i.e. asking them to directly fulfil their needs and not merely asking them to make du’a, are distorting/misrepresenting what Shah ‘Abdul ‘Aziz Dehlawi said.

* This is the default rule but takfir of an individual in such a case may be averted based on ta’wil or jahl.

See also: https://www.deoband.org/2013/12/quran/quran-commentary/on-seeking-help-from-other-than-allah/


Refuting Barelwi Takfir of Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanawi: Explaining the Passage from Hifz al-Iman

October 11, 2019

Barelwis writing online have been repeating the charge of Kufr against Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi.

The charge Barelwis make is that Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanawi equated the knowledge of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) to the knowledge of madmen, animals and children. To prove this, they quote a passage from his Hifz al-Iman. The passage is as follows:

Further, if according to the statement of Zaid it is correct to apply the ruling of ‘ilm al-ghayb on the blessed person [of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam), based on which he will be called “‘Alim al-Ghayb”], then he will be asked: Is the intent of this ghayb some ghayb or all ghayb? If some unseen knowledges are intended what then is the distinction of the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) in this? Such knowledge of ghayb [i.e. some ghayb as opposed to all ghayb] is acquired by Zaid, Amr, indeed every child and madman, and indeed all animals and beasts, since each individual knows something or another that is hidden to someone else. Thus, everyone should be called ‘Alim al-Ghayb!

This passage does not equate the knowledge of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) to the knowledge of madmen etc. To equate the knowledge of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) to the knowledge of madmen etc. is Kufr even according to Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanawi as stated in his subsequent clarification, Bast al-Banan.

Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanawi is here talking about using the term “‘Alim al-Ghayb” to describe Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam), as evident from this passage itself, as it says: “Thus, everyone should be called ‘Alim al-Ghayb.” This is also evident from the question found in Hifz al-Iman to which this is a response:

In his response, first (before the above passage) Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanawi explains that ‘Alim al-Ghayb (or even ‘ilm al-ghayb) is a term applied exclusively to a being who has knowledge of ghayb independently. Hence, to use the term for those who have knowledge of ghayb via a means is a misuse and misapplication. Then, he says, as found in the above passage, that even with the false interpretation of ‘ilm al-ghayb as knowledge of ghayb acquired via a means, when applied to Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam), is all ghayb intended or some? Of course no one means all ghayb, and having knowledge of some ghayb is not restricted to Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). In fact, all creatures have knowledge of some ghayb. (E.g. they all know about Allah, and Allah is from the ghayb). Thus, if based on some ghayb an individual is called this, then everyone should be called ‘Alim al-Ghayb, and that is of course nonsensical. This is Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanawi’s basic argument.

Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanawi’s argument applies to all terms that are exclusive to Allah. Maulana Manzur Numani gives the example of the term “Rabb al-Alamin” (sustainer of creatures). A silly person could claim that a certain king who takes care of his subjects is “rabb al-alamin”! The answer to this is that Rabb al-‘Alamin is the one who sustains the creatures independently, not via means. In this meaning, it is exclusive to Allah, and to use it for those who sustain via a means is a misuse of the term. Further, it will be argued, does this king sustain all creatures or only some? Of course, he does not sustain all creatures, while sustaining some creatures is not exclusive to him; even a father does so, and in fact animals do so – so should all have the right to be called “rabb al-‘alamin”? This is identical to the form of argument Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanawi used in the above passage. (Futuhat Numaniah)

As one can see, there is no disrespect in this to the hypothetical king in reference. Similarly, there is no disrespect to Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) in the argument of Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanawi. It is only presented to demonstrate the silliness of the person making this claim (that such terms as “‘Alim al-Ghayb”, which are exclusive to Allah, can be used for other than Allah). It is not presented to denigrate Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) or to equate his knowledge or status to that of others.

A final point to bear in mind is that the meaning of the passage from Hifz al-Iman was paraphrased, with no substantive difference between the original passage and the paraphrase, and was presented to scholars of the Arab world, in al-Muhannad ‘ala ‘l-Mufannad. The scholars who saw this paraphrased passage saw no problem with it and did not consider it blasphemous. The paraphrased passage translates as follows:

This usage [of referring to another as ‘Alim al-Ghayb] is not permissible even if it was with a [particular] interpretation, because it is suggestive of shirk, just as the usage of their statement ra’ina was prohibited in the Qur’an (2:104) and their statement “my male slave” (‘abdi) and “my female slave” (amati) [was prohibited] in the hadith, as transmitted by Muslim in his Sahih (Kitab al-Alfaz min al-Adab wa Ghayriha); since the general [usage of the term] ghayb in the legal usages is that for which no proof was erected and there is no means or path to its perception. [Based] on this, Allah (Exalted is He) said, “Say: None in the heavens or on earth, except Allah, knows the ghayb” (27:65), “Had I knowledge of the ghayb, I should have abundance of wealth” (7:188) and other verses. If this were allowed by interpretation, it would entail that it would be correct to use khaliq (Creator), raziq (Sustainer), malik (Master), ma’bud (Deity) and other attributes of Allah (Exalted is He), exclusive to His (Exalted is He) Essence, for the creation by an interpretation. It would also imply that by another interpretation the use of the term ‘alim al ghayb would be negated from Allah (Exalted is He), since He (Exalted is He) is not the knower of ghayb by means of a medium or by accident, so would any sane religious person allow its negation [from Him]? Far be it, of course not.

Moreover, if this usage were correct for his holy essence (Allah bless him and grant him peace) according to the statement of a questioner, we will ask for clarification from him: what does he mean by this ghayb? Does he mean every particular from the particulars of ghayb or a part of it, whichever part it may be? If he intended a part of the ghayb, there is no speciality in this for the Chief of Messengers (Allah bless him and grant him peace), since the knowledge of some ghayb, even if it is little, is attainable by Zayd and ‘Amr, rather every child and madman, rather all animals and beasts, because every one of them knows something another does not know and [something that is] hidden from him. Hence, if the questioner permits the usage [of the term] ‘alim al ghayb for one because of his knowledge of a part of the ghayb, it would be necessary for him to allow its usage for all those mentioned, and if that was the case, it would not then be from the perfections of prophethood because they all share in it; and if it is not the case, he will be asked for a distinction, and will find no path to it. [Here] ends the statement of Shaykh al-Thanawi.

Barelwis who insist on the charge of Kufr against Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanawi must answer the following:

  1. Is the meaning of the passage of Hifz al-Iman as presented in al-Muhannad insulting? If you answer “yes”, then you are disagreeing with great Arab Ulama of that time, who did not regard it to be problematic.
  2. If you answer “no”, then what is the substantive difference between this and the original passage of Hifz al-Iman?

Note, Barelwis must present a substantive difference, a difference that shows the meaning in the two passages is different and thus rendering one Kufr and not the other.


Affiliation to “Deoband” and Sectarianism

September 2, 2019

Question:

Is one guilty of sectarianism for labeling themselves “Deobandi”?

Answer:

The affiliation to Deoband has two meanings:
  1. To have studied in Darul Ulum Deoband or any of its many affiliate schools. Darul Ulum Deoband has branches all throughout the world, so those who have studied in Deoband itself or one of its many, many offshoots can be called “Deobandi” in terms of an affiliation to a religious school of education, and having his asanid go through the prominent musnids of Deoband and their seniors; just like a person may be called “Azhari” or “Qayrawani” for having studied at these schools. There is no sectarianism, blameworthy or otherwise, in this affiliation at all.
  2. To admire, and adopt the ideologies and outlook of, Hazrat Maulana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi and Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Qasim Nanotawi, their colleagues, prominent students, and their prominent students, the likes of Maulana Muhammad Ya’qub Nanotawi, Shaykh al-Hind, Maulana Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri, Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanawi, Allamah Anwar Shah Kashmiri, Maulana Husayn Ahmad Madani, Allamah Shabbir Ahmad al-Uthmani, Mufti Muhammad Shafi, Maulana Idris Kandhlewi, Allamah Zafar Ahmad Uthmani, Maulana Zakariyya Kandhlewi etc.; with the belief that they represent the correct maslak, amongst other schools of thought in the subcontinent.
To ascribe oneself to “Deoband” based on the latter meaning does have sectarian connotations. Whether one should keep this affiliation or not will depend on the context one finds himself in. In a neutral environment, for one who admires and adopts the outlook of the Akabir of Deoband, they should not label themselves “Deobandi“, as the Akabir of Deoband did not introduce anything new from mainstream Sunni Hanafi thought. Instead they should view the Akabir of Deoband simply as a continuation of the great legacy that has been passed down for centuries, and leave out the affiliation “Deobandi”. To label oneself “Deobandi” in such a context may amount to blameworthy sectarianism.

However, in an environment where the bid’ahs in aqidah and practice which the Akabir of Deoband combated – like the belief that Rasulullah (sallalahu alayhi wasallam) is not a human being but a physical light that became incarnate in a human form, or the belief that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) was given knowledge of literally every iota of creation from its inception to the final hour, or that he was given knowledge of the hour, or the belief that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) was given all-encompassing powers over the universe, or that he hears and sees everything in creation, or the practices of istighatha (calling out to dead saints for help at the time of distress), urs, building over graves and other innovations – are prevalent and people claiming to be Sunni Hanafis adopt such misguided beliefs and practices, then an individual who admires and adopts the outlook of the Akabir of Deoband should wear the label “Deobandi” to distinguish himself from Sunni Hanafis who engage in such innovations. While this is a sectarian affiliation, it is not a blameworthy form of sectarianism, but a praiseworthy form. It is just like the scholars of the Salaf referred to themselves as Ahl al-Sunnah wa ‘l-Jama’ah to distinguish themselves from the Shi’ah, Mu’tazila and other misguided groups; or referred to themselves as “Ash’ari” or “Maturidi” to distinguish themselves from the Mu’tazila, Mujassima, or other misguided groups.


Meaning of Bid‘ah – Mawlānā Manẓūr Nu‘mānī

June 21, 2019

In a polemic against a Barelwī writer, Mawlānā Manẓūr Nu‘mānī (1905 – 1997) wrote on the meaning of bid‘ah in Sayf e Yamānī (a work written in 1930, endorsed by leading Deobandī scholars, including Mawlānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī and ‘Allāmah Shabbīr Aḥmad al-‘Uthmānī):

Linguistically, bid‘ah refers to something new, and in the terminology of the ‘Ulamā’ of Sharī‘ah, the term is used for two meanings: one, every action which came into existence after the time of Janāb Rasūlullāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) and was not present in his time – in which case this action in view of Sharī‘ah can at times be good and at times bad; second, anything that is not from matters of dīn and people begin to regard it as a matter of dīn – this is also called “real bid‘ah” or “legal bid‘ah”, and such bid‘ah is always blameworthy. Our Prophet, the commander and forbidder, upon him and his progeny blessing and peace, said:

من أحدث في أمرنا هذا ما ليس منه فهو رد

“Whoever introduces into this matter of ours what is not from it, it is rejected.”

It should also be understood that the ‘Ulamā’ who divided bid‘ah into two categories of “good” and “bad”, their intent is the first meaning of bid‘ah, about which we have mentioned that in view of Sharī‘ah it can at times be good and at times bad. Those noble ‘Ulamā’ who have unrestricetedly censured bid‘ah and determine all bid‘ahs to be bad, their intent is this latter meaning, and based on this, the Messenger of God (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) said:

كل بدعة ضلالة وكل ضلالة فى النار

“Every bid‘ah is deviance and every deviance is in the Hellfire.”

Thus there is no contradiction between the two statements, and in fact those who regard them to be contradictory and opposing are pure ignoramuses.

Yes, keeping in mind the attitude of the commoners in our time, it is an obligation of the ‘Ulamā’ of the Ummah to adopt this latter methodology and not open the door of deviance by dividing bid‘ah. Thus, possessors of foresight from the earlier scholars adopted this [methodology]. Imām Rabbānī Maḥbūb Subḥānī Ḥaḍrat Sayyid Aḥmad Ṣāḥib Mujaddid Alf Thanī (Allāh have mercy on him) wrote in his Maktūbāt:

“People say that bid‘has are two categories: good and bad. Good refers to the good action that was invented after the Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) and the rightly-guided caliphs (Allāh be pleased with them), and does not remove a Sunnah, while bad is what removes a Sunnah. This Faqīr does not see goodness and illumination in these bid‘ahs, and does not sense anything besides darkness and murkiness in them.”

Then he said, and how brilliant is what he said:

“The leader of man (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) has said that one who introduces into dīn what is not from it, it is rejected. How can something rejected be good?”

Further, he said:

“Since every new thing is bid‘ah and every bid‘ah is deviance, what is the meaning to bid‘ah being good? Further, it is realised from ḥadīths that each and every bid‘ah is a cause of removal of a Sunnah. No bid‘ah is exempted from this. Thus, every bid‘ah is deviance.” (Maktūbāt, volume 1, part 3, p 73)

In these holy Maktūbāt (letters), second volume, part 6, page 56, there is a long letter, the subject-matter of which is this [topic]. For the purpose of brevity, I will quote a few sentences of it below:

“However, this Faqīr does not agree with him on this matter and does not recognise any individual bid‘ah as ‘good’, and does not sense anything besides darkness and murkiness within bid‘ah. The Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) said: ‘Every bid‘ah is deviance.’ In this time, of Islām being strange and weak, safety is only in following Sunnah, and corruption comes from perpetrating bid‘ah, whatever bid‘ah it may be. This Faqīr recognises bid‘ah to be like a shovel, which renders the foundation of Islām fallen, and recognises Sunnah to be like bright stars which give guidance in the dark night of deviance. Allāh give direction to the ‘Ulamā of the time to not express with their tongue the word ‘good’ for any bid‘ah, and not give fatwā for the permissibility of any bid‘ah, even if that bid‘ah in their view appears to be like the light of a bright morning because Satanic deception gains great power in anything besides Sunnah.”

It is clearly evident from these statements of Ḥaḍrat Imām Rabbānī that according to him, this division of bid‘ah opens a very wide door to deviance, and at a time of trials, he regarded it as a major calamity for the Muslims particularly, and did not approve of it at all.

Moreover, this is also the methodology of ‘Allāmah Muḥaqqiq Sayyid Sharīf [al-Jurjānī], Khātam al-Ḥuffāẓ Ibn Ḥajar al-‘Asqalānī, ‘Allāmah Ibn Ḥajar al-Haytamī (Allāh, Exalted is He, have mercy on them). Thus, Khātam al-Muḥaqqiqīn Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Muḥammad ‘Abdul Ḥayy Ṣāḥib Firangī Maḥallī (Allāh illuminate his resting place) wrote in his book Tuḥfat al-Akhyār:

والقول الثاني وهو الأصح بالنظر الدقيق: أن حديث كل بدعة ضلالة باق على عمومه، وأن المراد به البدعة الشرعية، وهي ما لم يوجد فى القرون المشهود لها بالخير، ولم يوجد له أصل من الأصول الشرعية، ومن المعلوم أن كل ما كان على هذه الصفة فهو ضلالة قطعا، وإلى هذا القول مال السيد في شرح المشكوة، والحافظ ابن حجر فى الهدى الساري مقدمة فتح الباري، وفي فتح الباري، وابن حجر المكي فى الفتح المبين شرح الأربعين وغيرهم (تحفة الأخيار

“The second view, which is the more authentic upon closer scrutiny, is that the ḥadīth, ‘Every bidah is deviance’, remains on its generality, and the intent of it is legal bid‘ah, which is all that was not present in the eras whose virtue has been attested to, and does not have a basis from the bases of Sharī‘ah. It is obvious that everything with such characteristic is definitely deviance. Sayyid in Sharḥ al-Mishkāt, Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Ḥajar in al-Huda al-Sārī introduction to Fatḥ al-Bārī and in Fatḥ al-Bārī and Ibn Ḥajar al-Makkī in al-Fatḥ al-Mubīn Sharḥ al-Arba‘īn and others have inclined to this view.”

(Sayf e Yamānī, p. 96-9)


Deobandī Position on the Mawlid – Mawlānā Manẓūr Nu‘mānī

June 16, 2019

‘Azīz Aḥmad Kānpūrī, a Barelwī polemicist, wrote in a 1929 tract called ‘Aqā’id Wahhābiyyah Deobandiyyah: “According to Deobandī Wahhābīs*, Mīlād Sharīf is impermissible in all conditions even if it is in accordance with Sharī‘ah, and no Mīlād or ‘Urs is permissible. It is not permissible to participate in Mīlād Sharīf or ‘Urs. It states in Fatāwā Rashīdiyyah, vol. 3, p. 83: ‘It is impermissible in all conditions to hold a gathering of Mawlūd. It is forbidden on account of public invitation to something mandūb (recommended).’”

Mawlānā Manẓūr Nu‘mānī responds in Sayf e Yamānī (See: here), a book written in 1930, endorsed by leading Deobandī scholars, including Mawlānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī and ‘Allāmah Shabbīr Aḥmad al-‘Uthmānī:

Allāh, the All-Knowing, All-Aware, is witness to the fact that according to us, the pure commemoration of the blessed birth of the Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) is a cause of mercy and a means of blessing just like other beautiful commemorations, and indeed commemorating the excrement of the Prophet, and even the sweat and urine of his camel, is without doubt a cause of reward. This is stated explicitly in many places of Fatāwā Rashīdiyyah. For the satisfaction of readers, we will cite only three passages from the first volume of Fatāwā Rashīdiyyah.

It states in the first volume of Fatāwā Rashīdiyyah, on page 70:

“No one forbids the commemoration of the birth itself.”

Similarly, it states on page 109 of the same volume:

“The commemoration of the birth itself is recommended. Its detestability occurs on account of restrictions.”

Then on page 142 of this volume it states:

“The commemoration of the birth of the Pride of the World (upon him blessing) itself is recommended. But on account of being attached to these restrictions, this function has become impermissible.”

It is clearly evident from each one of these passages that Mawlānā [Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī] Marḥūm would consider the commemoration of the birth of the Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) itself to be recommended and desirable, but would regard holding a function of Mīlād to be incorrect. If you are unable to distinguish the commemoration of the birth itself and holding a [specific annual] function, then this is a shortcoming in your understanding.

[Poem not translated]

It is indeed strange that those who cannot understand the difference between iṭlāq (an unrestricted action) and taqyīd (a restricted action) have a passion to criticise the speech of the ‘Ulamā’ of the Ummah and the righteous of the religious community. Readers, an example of this is exactly like someone who says: “A stolen sheep is ḥarām”, and some younger brother of the author of the treatise ‘Aqā’id Wahhābiyyah Deobandiyya, ‘Azīẓ Aḥmad Ṣāḥib, says: “According to him, even a sheep is ḥarām, the permissibility of which is proven from explicit text!”

Thus, in this manner it should be understood that the commemoration of the birth itself which holds the position of an unrestricted action (ilāq) is according to us something desirable, while holding [a Mīlād function], in the notion of which public invitation (tadā‘ī) and other emphases and specifications are included, and which holds the position of a restricted action (taqyīd), is according to us forbidden and incorrect. How can anyone object to this? Is not public invitation and other [ritual] emphases on something permissible or desirable reprehensible according to the Ḥanafī Fuqahā? It states in Muslim Sharīf that Ḥaḍrat ‘Abdullāh ibn ‘Umar (Allāh be pleased with him) saw some people gathering for Ḍuḥā Ṣalāh with emphasis, and he described this practice of theirs as bid‘ah, even though Ḍuḥā Ṣalāh in itself is something desirable, on which ṣaḥīḥ ḥadīths have been transmitted.

It states in Musnad Imām Amad that Ḥaḍrat ‘Uthmān ibn Abi l-‘Āṣ (Allāh be pleased with him) was invited to a circumcision and he refused to go. Someone asked why. He said: “We would not go to circumcisions in the time of the Prophet and nor was there a practice of inviting people.” (Musnad, 4:217)

It is realised from these two ḥadīths that in [ritual] matters on which the Pure Sharī‘ah has not taught public invitation and other emphases, public invitation and emphasis on it is bid‘ah and forbidden. If there is sound intellect and a sense of fairness, all obscurities on the topic of Mīlād would be resolved from these few lines.

Further, even if this obvious difference between the commemoration of the birth itself and holding a [specific annual] function is ignored, even then, it is safer to not give permission for holding this function, to block the door (saddan li ‘l-bāb) [to evil], just as Ḥaḍrat Maḥbūb Subḥānī Quṭb Rabbānī Sayyidunā Shaykh Aḥmad al-Fārūqī Mujaddid Alf Thānī (Allāh’s mercy be upon him) wrote on this gathering of Mīlād:

“If recited such that distortion does not occur in Qur’ānic words and without the aforementioned [blameworthy] conditions being realised in the Qaṣa’id, and even that is with correct intention, what is there to prevent its allowance? Master! It comes to the mind of the Faqīr: If this door is not completely shut, the people of passion will not cease [taking advantage of it]. If a little is permitted, it will lead to much. There is a famous saying, ‘A little of it leads to much of it.’” (al-Maktūbāt)

Finally, I also wish to state that forbidding holding such a function is not specific to us or our Akābir, but for centuries, ‘Ulamā’ of Ahl al-Sunnah have been writing thus. Thus, ‘Allāmah Ibn al-Ḥājj [d. 737 AH], who Mawlawī Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Ṣāḥib referred to as “Imām” in Inbā’ al-Muṣṭafā, wrote in his famous book Madkhal:

ومن جملة ما أحدثوه من البدع مع اعتقادهم أن ذلك من أكبر العبادات وإظهار الشعائر ما يفعلونه فى الشهر الربيع الأول من المولد وقد احتوى ذلك على بدع ومحرمات

إلى أن قال:

وهذه المفاسد مترتبة على فعل المولد إذا عمل بالسماع فإن خلا منه وعمل طعاما فقط ونوى به المولد ودعا إليه الإخوان، وسلم من كل ما تقدم ذكره فهو بدعة بنفس نيته فقط، لأن ذلك زيادة فى الدين، وليس من عمل السلف الماضين واتباع السلف أولى (مدخل ابن الحاج، مطبوعة مصر، جلد أول، ص ٨٥)

“Amongst the bid‘ahs they have innovated – while believing that it is from the greatest of rituals – and has been publicised as a symbol [of the religion] is: the Mawlid that they practise in the month of Rabī‘ al-Awwal, which comprises of innovations and prohibited things…These harms are consequential upon the practice of Mawlid when practised with Samā‘. If [the Mawlid] is free of [Sama’], and one only prepares food intending the Mawlid, and calls friends to it, and it is free of all [the evils] that were mentioned earlier, it is a bid’ah by virtue of this intention alone because that is an addition in the Dīn and is not from the practice of the early Salaf, while obeying the Salaf is superior.”

It is clearly evident from the underlined part of this passage of Madkhal that if the function of Mīlād is devoid of other evils, even then, only because of holding a function with a specific emphasis, it is bid‘ah and not correct in Sharī‘ah. This is exactly what is mentioned in Fatāwā Rashīdiyyah.

Mawlānā ‘Abd al-Raḥmān Maghrībī wrote in his Fatāwā;

إن عمل المولد بدعة لم يقل به ولم يفعله رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم والخلفاء والأئمة، كذا فى الشرعة الإلهية

“The practice of Mawlid is innovation, neither endorsed nor practised by the Messenger of Allāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace), nor the Caliphs, nor the Imāms. This is stated in al-Shir‘at al-Ilāhiyyah.”

In Fatāwā Tufat al-Quāt of Qāḍī Shihāb al-Dīn [Aḥmad ibn ‘Umar] Dawlatābādī [d. 849 H], it states that Qāḍī Sāḥib was asked about the Mīlād function, and he said:

لا ينعقد لأنه محدث وكل محدث ضلالة وكل ضلالة فى النار

“It is not to be held because it is innovation, and every innovation is misguidance and every misguidance is in the Fire.”

Mawlānā Naṣīruddīn al-Shāfī‘ī wrote in response to a questioner:

لا يفعل لأنه لم ينقل عن السلف الصالح، وإنما أحدث بعد القرون الثلاثة فى الزمان الطالح، ونحن لا نتبع الخلف فيما أهمل السلف، لأنه يكفى بهم الإتباع، فأي حاجة إلى الإبتداع؟!

“It is not to be done because it is not transmitted from the Salaf Sālih but it was invented after the first three generations in an impious time, and we do not follow the Khalaf in what the Salaf did not do, as they are sufficient for following, so what need is there to innovate?”

Shaykh al-Ḥanābilah ‘Allāmah Sharaf al-Dīn (Allāh have mercy on him) states:

إن ما يعمل بعض الأمراء في كل سنة احتفالا لمولده صلى الله عليه وسلم فمع اشتماله على التكلفات الشنيعة بنفسه بدعة أحدثه من يتبع هواه

“What some rulers do every year in celebration of his (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) birth, along with comprising of horrible formalities, it is bid‘ah itself, those following desires having invented it.”

From all these citations, it becomes as clear as the light of day that from an earlier time, ‘Ulamā’ of the four madhhabs did not look at this practice favourably. I wish to further quote a comprehensive passage from the book al-Qawl al-Mu‘tamad of ‘Allāmah Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad Miṣrī. The aforementioned ‘Allāmah states:

ومع هذا قد اتفق علماء المذاهب الأربعة بذم هذا العمل، فممن يذمه: قال العلامة معز الدين حسن الخوارزمي في تاريخه: صاحب إربل الملك مظفر الدين أبو سعيد الكوكبري، كان ملكا مسرفا يأمر علماء زمانه أن يعملوا باستنباطهم واجتهادهم، ولا يتبعوا مذاهب غيرهم حتى مالت إليه جماعة من العلماء وطائفة من الفضلاء، وكان يحتفل لمولد النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم فى الربيع الأول، وهو أول من أحدث من الملوك هذا العمل.

“Along with this, ‘Ulamā’ of the four madhhabs have agreed on censuring this practice. From those that censured it: ‘Allāmah Mu‘izz al-Dīn Ḥasan al-Khawārizmī said in his Tārīkh: The king of Irbil, King Muẓaffar al-Dīn al-Kawkaburī [d. 630 AH]. He was an extravagant king; he would tell the ‘Ulamā’ of his time to operate on their own deductions and judgements, and not follow the madhhabs of others (i.e. just like Ghayr Muqallids); subsequently, a group of the ‘Ulamā’ and a section of the righteous tended towards him. He would celebrate the Mawlid of the Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him) in Rabī al-Awwal and was the first king to introduce this practice.”

Since at this juncture exhausting such passages is not the objective, I will suffice on these few. It should be kept in mind that the passages quoted up to now are only of those who, together with being known amongst the Ummah, are accepted authorities on both sides. From all these passages, sufficient light is shed on our approach.

The permissibility or impermissibility of ‘Urs remains. Regarding this, we also say clearly that, undoubtedly, what people today call ‘Urs is impermissible according to us, and not only according to us, but it has this ruling according to all the Akābir of the Ummah.

The grandson and special student of Ḥaḍrat Shāh ‘Abdul ‘Azīz Ṣāḥib (Allāh have mercy on him), Ḥaḍrat Shāh Muḥammad Isḥāq Ṣāḥib Dehlawī, wrote on this ‘Urs in his famous book Kitāb Arba‘īn:

“It is not permissible to specify the day of ‘Urs. It states in Tafsīr Maẓharī:

لا يجوز ما يفعله الجهلاء بقبور الأولياء والشهدا من السجود والطواف حولها واتخاذ السرج والمساجد إليها، ومن الإجتماع بعد الحول كالأعياد ويسمونه عرسا

‘What the ignorant do at the graves of the Awliyā’ and Shuhadā, i.e. prostrating, circling around them, making lights and making masjids towards them, and assembling around them annually like ‘Id and calling it ‘Urs, are not permissible.’”

Similarly, Qāḍī Thanāullāh Ṣāḥib Pānipatī (Allāh’s mercy be upon him), who maintains a distinguished status in the Naqshbandī family, and who was called the “Bayhaqī of the Time” by Shāh ‘Abdul ‘Azīz, said in his well-known and famous book Irshād al-ālibīn:

“Elevating the graves of the Awliyā’ of Allāh, constructing domes over them, doing ‘Urs and its likes, and lighting, all of these are bid‘ah. Some of these practices are ḥarām and some makrūh. The Messenger of Allāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) had cursed such people who light up graves or prostrate to them.”

Do tell, is it now only the ideology of “Wahhābī Deobandīs” to call Mīlād and ‘Urs impermissible? One should now realise with which Akābir of the religion the ‘Ulamā of Deoband maintain connection.

Noble readers, consider the approach of our RazāKhānī friends. A practice that earlier and later scholars have deemed bad, if, following earlier scholars, the ‘Ulamā’ of Deoband today also censure it and forbid it, this forbiddance according to them is an unforgivable crime! [It is a case of] the thief pointing the finger at the officer!

The virtues of a people are faults to some.

Oh Owner of the Throne, You are witness that the crime of ours and our Akābir is nothing but that we are adamant on the Sunnats of Your Pure Beloved, the holder of the station of “Lawlāka”, Ḥaḍrat Muḥammad Rasūlullāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace), and are repulsed by innovations. (Sayf e Yamānī, p. 22-29)

Then, he addresses another common charge of Barelwīs, articulated by the same ‘Azīz Aḥmad Kānpūrī, that Deobandīs are deceptive and state in their work al-Tadīqāt li Daf‘ al-Talbīsāt (al-Muhannad ‘ala ‘l-Mufannad) that the Mawlid function is recommended. Mawlānā Manẓūr Nu‘mānī responds:

Al-Tadīqāt is not some lost book, which is unavailable. It is not some handwritten fatwā which can be altered, changed or tampered with. Rather, it is a published, widely available book, thousands of copies of which can be found in Hindustan. I will copy its passages below, from which readers will notice whether the commemoration of the noble birth itself is said to be recommended or holding the function of Mīlād; then recite an elegy over the insight and integrity of the author of Aqāi’d Wahhābiyyah (i.e. ‘Azīz Aḥmad Kānpūrī). From line 15 of Tadīqāt, page 27, it states:

“Far be it that any of the Muslims say, let alone we, ourselves, say, that commemorating his noble birth (upon him blessing and peace), rather even commemorating the dust on his shoes and the urine of his (Allah bless him and grant him peace) camel, are deemed blameworthy in the Shari‘ah, from the evil and prohibited innovations; for, commemorating the states which have the least connection with the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is from the most desirable of recommended acts (ahabb al-mandubat) and the greatest of preferable acts (a‘la l-mustahabbat) according to us, whether it is the commemoration of his noble birth or commemoration of his urine, feces, standing, sitting, sleeping and waking.”

Then from line 10, page 29, this content is concluded with these words:

“Far be it that we say that commemorating the noble birth is abominable and a bid‘ah.”

Readers, for God’s sake, be fair! Who is it that is being deceptive and stating a clear lie? (Sayf e Yamānī, p. 29-30)

‘Azīz Aḥmad Kānpūrī further asks: “Do you people [Deobandīs] conduct Mīlād Sharīf without specifying [a date] or Qiyām?”

Mawlānā Manẓūr Nu‘mānī responds:

It is our preoccupation day and night to discuss and study the blessed Sīrah of the Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) and all the conditions of his life, from his celestial existence [in the world of souls] to his physical existence, then from birth to death, from death to resurrection, from resurrection to the hereafter, from the hereafter to eternity – in brief, all statements, deeds and actions. This is not the lot of the RazāKhānīs. Their lot is only to mention the birth on the date of the twelfth and that too using unreliable reports. In our lot, all conditions of the Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace), the Sīrah, battles, commands, prohibitions, deeds, engagements, statements, actions etc. etc. all occur. Reading them and teaching them, distributing them and publishing them, is our life’s effort. All praise to Allāh, the Master of all worlds. We raise our hands in supplication that Allāh makes our end in this most excellent of pursuits. May our last breath depart beneath your feet, this is the heart’s anguish, this the hope.** (Sayf e Yamānī, p. 112-3)

* “Wahhabi” is a common Barelwi slur for Deobandis, one that has been refuted extensively, in particular by Mawlana Husayn Ahmad Madani in al-Shihab al-Thaqib. Deobandis differ with true Wahhabis on a number of core issues. For more detail, see here.

** A poem expressing the desire to live one’s entire life in service of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam)

 


Principles of Bid‘ah – Maulana Manzur Nu‘mani

June 15, 2019

In Rabī‘ al-Thānī of 1354 AH (1935 CE), someone sent a question to Maulānā Manẓūr Nu‘mānī (1905 – 1997 CE) concerning the innovated ritual of calling the Adhān at the grave following burial, asking for a detailed answer. At around the same time, a close friend of Maulānā Manẓūr Nu‘mānī, Maulānā ‘Abd al-Ḥafīẓ Khān Ṣāḥib, suggested writing a detailed write-up on the topic, as well as refuting Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s treatise in support of the practice called Īdhān al-Ajr fī Adhān al-Qabr (found in Fatāwā Riḍawiyyah, 5:657-681). Although specifically on the topic of calling the Adhān at the grave, as part of the introduction, the treatise subsequently authored by Maulānā Manẓūr Nu‘mānī outlines some general principles on bid‘ah, and how to answer the types of arguments supporters of bid‘ah advance. A PDF of the complete treatise can be found here.

The following is a translation of the introduction (about a quarter of the book).

Before writing on the actual ruling of Sharī‘ah on Adhān at the grave, some prefatory prolegomena are presented that are not specific to this topic but will be helpful in understanding the ruling of all innovations.

First Prolegomenon

The Divine Ordinance was completed in the time of Allāh’s Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace). On the occasion of Ḥajjat al-Wadā‘ this was conveyed to the entire Ummah via Allāh’s Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace):

اليوم أكملت لكم دينكم

“Today have I completed for you your religion.”

The impetus behind this Divine Announcement was that no need remained any longer for renovating or adding to religion, and nor will there be any need till Resurrection. The rulings that were needed for the guidance of humanity have all been revealed, and the laws for salvation have for all times been completed, and practising on them is definitely adequate for the salvation of an individual, his success and wellbeing. Now, whoever adds something into religion which Allāh’s Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) has not taught us, it is as though he is implicitly making the claim that religion was not completed and was in need of this renovation of mine, or his claim is, Allāh forbid, that the Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) failed in conveying the message and something that was included within religion he has not conveyed to us and I am now conveying it to people. Anyhow, whatever was not included in religion before cannot be included in religion today, and something which Allāh’s Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) has not described as being a cause of nearness to the Divine cannot be a cause of nearness and a means of Divine Pleasure today also.

In the Ṣaḥīḥayn and other collections of Ḥadīth, it is narrated from Ḥaḍrat ‘Ā’ishah Ṣiddīqah (Allāh be pleased with her) that Allāh’s Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) said:

من أحدث في أمرنا هذا ما ليس منه فهو رد

“Whoever introduces into this matter of ours what is not from it, it is rejected.” (Mishkāt, p. 27)

In another transmission of Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, it states:

من عمل عملا ليس عليه أمرنا فهو رد

“Whoever does an action on which there is no decree from us, it is rejected.”

Imām Dār al-Hijrah Ḥaḍrat Mālik ibn Anas (Allāh have mercy on him) said:

من ابتدع فى الإسلام بدعة يراها حسنة فقد زعم أن محمدا صلى الله عليه وسلم خان الرسالة لأن الله يقول: اليوم أكملت لكم دينكم، فما لم يكن يومئذ دينا فلا يكون اليوم دينا

“Whoever innovates an innovation into Islām deeming it good, he has asserted that Muḥammad (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) has betrayed the messengership because Allāh says: ‘Today, have I perfected for you your religion.’ Thus, whatever was not religion on that day will not be religion today.” (al-I‘tiṣām, p28)

Second Prolegomenon

Just like the door to new inventions is closed in Sharī‘ah, in the same way no one has the right to specify from one’s own side a specific form and nature or a specific time for virtuous things described in Sharī‘ah for which the lawgiver has not specified any specific methods or boundaries and occasions, and treat [those specifications] like something specified in Sharī‘ah. Based on this, no one has the right, in a virtuous practice that the Sharī‘ah has fixed for a specific time or occasion, to establish it in this manner in other times and occasions, as this is transgressing Allāh’s bounds and is a type of rebellion against the law of Sharī‘ah.

It is narrated from Ḥaḍrat ‘Abdullāh ibn Mas‘ūd (Allāh be pleased with him) that he passed by a group of those remembering Allāh from whom one would say: “Allāh have mercy on the one who says subḥanAllāh this many times, Allāh have mercy on the one who says alḥamdulillāh this many times,” upon which the attendees would  say so accordingly. When he saw this he said in a highly majestic manner, addressing them:

لقد هديتم لما لم يهتد له نبيكم وإنكم لتمسكون بذنب ضلالة

“Have you been guided to that which your Prophet was not guided to?! Certainly you are holding onto a tail of misguidance.” (Ibn Waḍḍāḥ narrated as mentioned in al-I‘tiṣām)

Ḥaḍrat ‘Abdullāh ibn Mas‘ūd’s (Allāh be pleased with him) intent was that although there are many virtues to tasbiḥ and taḥmīd that are transmitted, and it is a desirable remembrance, this specific method and manner was not taught by the Messenger of Allāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace), but is your own invention and is thus misguidance.

Imām Abū Isḥāq al-Shāṭibī (Allāh have mercy on him) said in describing innovations:

ومنها التزام الكيفيات والهيئات المعينة كالذكر بهيئة الإجتماع على صوت واحد…ومنها التزام العبادات المعينة في أوقات معينة لم يوجد لها ذلك التعيين فى الشريعة

“From them is adhering strictly to methods and forms that are specific, like remembrance in congregational form in one voice…And from them is strictly adhering to specific rituals at specific times for which that specification is not found in Sharī‘ah.” (al-I‘tiṣām, v1 p20)

Third Prolegomenon

Just like doing less in rituals is an offence, in the same way adding from one’s own side is injustice. For this, the evidences which were cited in demonstrated the first prolegomenon are sufficient. Apart from that, this principle is clearly understood from the following narration of Ḥaḍrat ‘Alī (Allāh be pleased with him) which was related by the author of Majma‘ al-Baḥrayn:

إن رجلا يوم العيد أراد أن يصلي قبل صلوة العيد فنهاه علي رضي الله عنه فقال الرجل: يا أمير المؤمنين، إني أعلم أن الله لا يعذب على الصلوة، فقال علي: وإني أعلم أن الله تعالى لا يثيب على فعل حتى يفعله رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أو يحث عليه، فيكون صلوتك عبثا والعبث حرام، فلعله يعذبك به لمخالفتك لرسوله صلى الله عليه وسلم

“A man wanted to pray before the ‘Īd Ṣalāh so ‘Alī (Allāh be pleased with him) forbade him. The man then said: ‘Commander of the Believers, I know for sure that Allāh will not punish for ṣalāh.’ ‘Alī said: ‘And I know for sure that Allāh (Exalted is He) will not give reward for an action that the Messenger of Allāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) did not do or encourage, so your ṣalāh will be futile and futility is forbidden, so He may punish you for that on account of your opposition to the Messenger of Allāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace).” (The author of al-Manār related it in his footnotes as mentioned in al-Junnah, p. 165)

In the commentary of the ḥadīth of Mālik ibn Hubayrah in Bāb al-Ṣaff ‘ala l-Janāzah in Sunan Abī Dāwūd, Mullā ‘Alī Qārī quotes in Mirqāt Sharḥ al-Mishkāt:

ولا يدعو للميت بعد صلوة الجنازة لأنه يشبه الزيادة فى صلوة الجنازة

“One is not to make duā for the deceased after the Janāzah Ṣalāh because it resembles adding to the Janāzah Ṣalāh.” (Mirqāt, v4 p64)

Ḥaḍrat Shaykh ‘Abd al-Ḥaqq Dehlawī (Allāh have mercy on him) writes in Lama‘āt Sharḥ al-Mishkāt:

فالزيادة في مثله نقصان فى الحقيقة كما لا يزاد فى الأذان بعد التهليل محمد رسول الله وأمثال ذلك كثير

“Adding to the like of this is in reality decreasing, just as ‘Muḥammadurrasūlullāh’ is not added to the Adhān after ‘Lāilāha illAllāh’, and the likes of that are many.”

Fourth Prolegomenon

When some very deviant group or individual introduces an extremely horrible innovation, they would of course claim it to have niceties and perfections, and upon the name of God and religion, will present evidences to popularise it. They will for sure adopt a style of oration from which simple minds can suffer from misunderstanding. Thus, to establish such ugly an innovation as idolatry as being permissible and beautiful, idolaters said:

ما نعبدهم إلا ليقربونا إلى الله زلفى

“We do not worship them but so they bring us very near to Allāh.”

Further, they introduced a terrible innovation in the Ibrāhīmī religion: They would circle the grounds of the Ka‘bah naked just as they were born, and would justify this shameless action as follows: We sin everyday wearing clothes, so how can we circle the godly grounds in those very clothes?! We will circle in the state that Allāh has created us.

It states in the Mighty Qur’ān:

وإذا قيل لهم: أنفقوا مما رزقكم الله قال الذين كفروا للذين آمنوا: أنطعم من لو يشاء الله أطعمه

“When it is said to them: Spend of what Allāh has provided you, those who disbelieve say to those who believe: Are we to feed those had Allāh wished He would have fed?!”

Now, look, how these wicked ones were not giving anything in God’s path, but on their satanic path, they honoured even this miserliness in the garb of “good innovation”, and presented this wicked and anti-humanitarian action under the lofty characteristic of “being content with divine decree” (riḍā bi ‘-qaḍā’).

Well, this was the condition of the disbelievers and idolaters at the time of Jāhiliyyah. But any innovator you see making a claim to belong to the Islāmic religion will describe many benefits for his innovation and will even attempt to present evidences of Sharī‘ah for it.

Imām Abū Isḥāq al-Shāṭibī (Allāh have mercy on him) was absolutely correct in writing:

إنك لا تجد مبتدعا ممن ينسب إلى الملة إلا وهو يستشهد على بدعته بدليل شرعي

“You will not find an innovator attributing [themselves] to religion except they support their innovation with Shar‘ī evidence.” (I‘tiṣām, p. 102)

It is an undeniable reality that there will be one or another aspect of interest or benefit in many innovations, and those are made the cause of misunderstanding for people, and based on them, it will be considered a good thing, or in other words a “good innovation”, all the while it is not necessary that something in which there is some benefit or interest is always good or permissible. The Glorious Qur’ān states clearly about gambling and wine that there is in general some benefits in them for people, but in spite of this, since in the view of Sharī‘ah the aspect of harm is dominant, they are both impermissible.

Fifth Prolegomenon

An action being completely left out in the time of Allāh’s Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) and noble Ṣaḥābah, while its motives and causes which are present today were present then too, is evidence that the action is not correct in Sharī‘ah, particularly when connected to the topic of rituals. The decree of Ḥaḍrat ‘Alī (Allāh be pleased with him) which was quoted with reference to Majma‘ al-Baḥrayn under the third prolegomenon is sufficient to demonstrate this. The narration of Ḥaḍrat ‘Abdullāh ibn Mas‘ūd (Allāh be pleased with him) cited under the second prolegomenon is also a completely clear demonstration of this. In one version, quoted by the author of Majālis al-Abrār, it occurs that he said to those who were making dhikr collectively in a specific form and manner:

أنا عبد الله بن مسعود، فوالذي لا إله غيره لقد جئتم ببدعة ظلماء أو لقد فقتم على أصحاب محمد عليه السلام علما

“I am ‘Abdullāh ibn Mas‘ūd. By the One besides Whom there is no deity but Him, you have produced a dark innovation or you have indeed surpassed the companions of Muḥammad (upon him peace) in knowledge.” (Majālis al-Abrār, chapter 18, p133)

After citing this transmission, the author of Majālis al-Abrar states:

هكذا يقال بكل من أتى فى العبادات البدنية المحضة بصفة لم تكن في زمن الصحابة رضي الله عنهم

“The same will be said to everyone who comes up, in purely physical rituals, with a form that was not present in the time of the Ṣaḥābah (Allāh be pleased with them).”

Ḥaḍrat Ḥudhayfah (Allāh be pleased with him) said:

كل عبادة لم يتعبدها أصحاب رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فلا تبعدوها

“Every ritual not observed by the companions of Allāh’s Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace), do not observe them” (al-I‘tiṣām, p113)

Ḥaḍrat ‘Abdullāh ibn Mas‘ūd (Allāh be pleased with him) said:

اتبعوا آثارنا ولا تبتدعوا فقد كفيتم

“Follow our traces and do not innovate, for you have been sufficed.” (al-I‘tiṣam, p54)

Anyhow, this is an undeniable principle: a ritual not established from Allāh’s Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) and the noble Ṣaḥābah is not correct in Sharī‘ah and is innovation. Ḥanafī jurists have frequently operated on this principle. Thus, the author of al-Hidāyah (Allāh have mercy on him) writes in Faṣl al-Awqāt allatī Yukrahu fīhā ‘l-Ṣalāh:

يكره أن يتنفل بعد طلوع الفجر بأكثر من ركعتي الفجر لأنه عليه السلام لم يزد عليهما مع حرصه على الصلاة

“It is undesirable to perform optional prayers after sunrise more than the two rak‘ats [of sunnah] of Fajr because he (upon him peace) did not add to them despite his eagerness for ṣalāh.” (Hidāyah, 1:53)

And in this very Hidāyah in Bāb al-‘Id, it states:

لا يتنفل فى المصلى قبل صلاة العيد لأن النبي عليه السلام لم يفعل ذلك مع حرصه على الصلاة

“One is not to perform optional prayers in the Muṣallā before the ‘Īd prayer because the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not do so despite his eagerness for ṣalāh.” (Hidāyah, 1:118)

He wrote on Ṣalāt al-Kusūf:

ليس فى الكسوف خطبة لأنه لم ينقل

“There is no Khuṭbah in Kusūf because it is not transmitted.” (Hidāyah, 1:121)

And ‘Allāmah Ḥalabī in Sharḥ Munyat al-Muṣallī, while proving that Ṣalāt al-Raghā’ib and Ṣalāt al-Barā’ah are not correct in Sharī‘ah, wrote:

ومنها أن الصحابة والتابعين ومن بعدهم من الأئمة المجتهدين لم ينقل عنهم هاتان الصلاتان فلو كانتها مشروعتين لما فاتتا عن السلف

“From these [reasons] is that the Ṣahābah and Tābi‘īn and those after them from the Mujtahid Imāms, these two Ṣalāhs have not been reported from them. Had they been correct in Sharī‘ah, they would not have missed the Salaf.”

In Kitāb al-Karāhiyyah of Fatāwā ‘Alamgīrī, it states [with reference to al-Muḥīṭ]:

قراءة الكافرون إلى الآخر مع الجمع مكروهة لأنه بدعة لم تنقل ذلك عن الصحابة ولا عن التابعين رضي الله عنهم

“Reading Sūrah al-Kāfirun to the end in congregation is disliked because it is an innovation not transmitted from the Ṣaḥābah nor from the Tābi‘īn (Allāh be pleased with them).”

It becomes very clear from all of these citations that a ritual not proven from the Messenger of Allāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) and his companions (Allāh be pleased with him), and was invented afterwards, is an innovation and is not correct in Sharī‘ah.

(Adhān e Qabr Kā Taḥqīqī Jāizah, p. 5-14)