Mawlānā Ḥusayn Aḥmad Madanī Explains Mawlānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī’s Positive Stance towards Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb

February 17, 2020

Mawlānā Ḥusayn Aḥmad Madanī (1879 – 1957 CE), a prominent student of Mawlānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī (1829 – 1905), explains in a letter dated 1950 that Mawlānā Gangohī’s positive stance towards Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb was because of a lack of awareness about him.

He writes:

[To] the one of respected position, may your honour be increased. Assalāmu ‘alaykum wa raḥmatullāh wa barakātuh. The answers to the things inquired about are as follows.

Undoubtedly, al-Shihāb al-Thāqib ‘ala l-Mustariq al-Kādhib is my first book. Since it was written against Mawlawī Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī’s refutation, Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn, discussion on the Wahhābīs came as a secondary [discussion], the objective of which was [to show] that our predecessors are aloof of both extremism and laxity – their track was of moderation, and they are the true followers of the noble predecessors of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa l-Jamā‘ah.

That which was expressed in the book remains my position, and it is the way of my noble predecessors.

I wasn’t the only one [to write against] Muḥammad ibn ‘Abdil Wahhāb and his group. In fact, ‘Allāmah Shāmī (Allāh have mercy on him) has also written [against them] in his book Radd al-Muḥtār Sharḥ al-Durr al-Mukhtār, which is a very reliable and authoritative book in Ḥanafī Fiqh, on p339 of the third volume. Since the author of Radd al-Muḥtār, ‘Allāmah Shāmī (Allāh have mercy on him) lived in that part [of the world] and was from that time, and he had gone to Makkah Mu‘aẓẓamah for Ḥajj in 1233 H when Muḥammad ibn ‘Abdil Wahhāb and his group had control over Ḥijāz, just as he stated on p674 of the first volume [1], the extent to which he is acquainted with Muḥammad ibn ‘Abdil Wahhāb and his group, those living far away and in a later time cannot be as well acquainted.

Hazrat Mawlānā Gangohī (his soul be sanctified) is someone from a much later time living in Hindustan. He did not have as much awareness of the conditions of this group. Thus, in Fatāwā Rashīdiyyah p64, this [i.e. that he has little awareness of the conditions of Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb] is stated explicitly in a fatwā. On p8 the passage that is written positively about him, it is based entirely on things that were heard. Hazrat Gangohī (Allāh sanctify his soul) would rely a lot on this book Shāmī. Generally his fatāwā were derived from this book.

The shame of the predecessors, Ḥusayn Aḥmad

Deoband, 4 Rabī‘ al-Awwal, 1370 [ 1950 CE].

(Maktūbāt e Shaykh al-Islām, 2:343-4)

[1] Shāmī mentions that he performed Ḥajj in this year, 1233. (Radd al-Muḥtār, Dār al-Thaqāfat wa ‘l-Turāth, 5:409) What Mawlānā Madanī probably meant to say is that 1233 was the final year that Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb’s followers remained in power and had control over Ḥijāz, as it was in this year that they were defeated and ousted by the Ottomans.

Shah Isma’il Couplet on Preservation of the Prophetic Body

February 16, 2020

On refuting the allegation that Shah Isma’il Shahid denied the preservation of the body of the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam), see here.

The following couplet written by Shah Isma’il Shahid in his Mathnawi Silk e Nur (on praise of the Prophet – sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam)  should clear all doubts about his views regarding the preservation of the body of the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam)

ان آنکھوں سے ہڑ چند وہ جسم پاک        بظاہر ہوا مختفی زیر خاک

ولے نور ان کا ہے قائم مقام          کہ ہر پاک دل میں ہے ان کا مقام

Although seemingly that pure body is hidden from these eyes beneath the earth,

Nonetheless, its light stands in its place, as there is a place for it in every sound heart.”

(Mathnawi Silk e Nur, quoted in Shah Isma’il Muhaddith Dehlawi by ‘Allamah Khalid Mahmud, p. 132)

The verses are clear that the pure body remains beneath the earth even today.

See also: According to Taqwiyat al-Iman, Rasulullah is Master of the World and the Best of Creation.


Detailed Look at Controversial Passage from Barāhīn e Qāṭi‘ah – A Full Translation of the Text

January 17, 2020



‘Abdul Jabbār ‘Umarpūrī (1860 – 1916), a companion of Nadhīr Ḥusayn al-Dehlawī, had written: “To hold the belief with regard to Ḥaḍrat [Rasūlullāh ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam] that wherever Mawlūd Sharīf is recited, he comes there, is shirk. God, exalted is He, [alone] is present in all places. Allāh, glorified is He, does not grant His characteristic to another.” (Quoted in Anwār e Sāṭi‘ah, Barāhīn, p52)

In Anwār e Sāṭi‘ah (authored: 1886), ‘Abdus Samī‘ Rāmpūrī (ca. 1820 – 1900) then wrote a response. His response can be summarised in the following points:

  1. This muftī did not even write durūd after mentioning Ḥaḍrat. Ittibā‘ e Sunnat is completely lacking.
  2. The questioner had asked about poetry in which the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) is addressed in the second person, not about the belief of the Prophet attending the gatherings. The answer addresses something contrary to the question.
  3. In response to the statement, “To hold the belief with regard to Ḥaḍrat [Rasūlullāh ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam] that wherever Mawlūd Sharīf is recited, he comes there, is shirk. God, exalted is He, [alone] is present in all places”, he replies: Subḥānallāh, this reasoning is completely flawed. If the belief was that Allāh too was only present at these gatherings, then you could say this is shirk and creating equality with Allāh. The reality is that Allāh is present and watching in all places (he gives a description of the massiveness of creation, and how creation is so much vaster than just these gatherings of Mīlād), so those who say he attends certain gatherings, how are they guilty of equating him with Allāh?
  4. In response to the statement, “Allāh, glorified is He, does not grant His characteristic to another”, he replies: The belief of Ahlus Sunnah wa ‘l-Jamā‘ah is that the manner and reality in which an attribute is specific to Allāh, it will not be found in another. Being specific means “it is found in him and not found in another.” Being present in all places of the earth (rū’e zamīn par kull jagah mawjūd hojānā) is nothing specific to Allāh.
  5. In Tafsīr Ma‘ālim al-Tanzīl, Risālah Barzakh of Suyūṭī and Sharḥ al-Mawāhib of Zurqānī, it states Malak al-Mawt takes the souls of all living things, jinn and man and all animals, and the world has been made like a small tray before him, and so he takes from here and there. In Mishkāt, it states Malak al-Mawt is at the side of the head of the dying, whether Muslim or Kāfir. In a ḥadīth of Ṭabarānī and Ibn Mandah as recorded in Tadhkirat al-Mawtā of Qāḍī Thanā’ullah it states that Malak al-Mawt told the Prophet that there is no home of a good or bad person but he has his attention towards it, and he sees them day and night, and he knows the young and old better than they know themselves. From these ḥadīths we realise Malak al-Mawt is present everywhere.
  6. Malak al-Mawt is a high-ranking angel. Even Shaytan is present everywhere. Durr e Mukhtār states that Shayṭān stays with humanity at day and his son stays with them at night. Shāmī says in the commentary that Shayṭān stays with all humanity besides those Allāh has saved and writes: “He gave him power to do this just as He gave Malak al-Mawt power over the like of that.”
  7. In the world of tangible bodies, there is the example of the moon and sun, which can be seen everywhere. He says: “Understand that while the [light of the] sun is present in every place, it is present in the lowest heaven. The soul of the Messenger (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) is in the seventh heaven in the ‘illiyyīn. If while there the blessed vision falls on the entire earth or several places…what impossibility or farfetchedness is there?” He then quotes some poetry which describes the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) as a sun whose light envelops the east and west.
  8. He quotes some of the pious who say that if the seeing of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) was concealed from them for the blink of an eye they would not consider themselves to be Muslim.
  9. He then concludes that ḥadīth-scholars and jurists should according to ‘Umarpūrī be even greater mushriks than people who believe the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) attends mawlids, because they affirm for Malak al-Mawt and Shayṭān much more than mere attendance of these gatherings.

(Anwār e Sāṭi‘ah, quoted in Barāhīn e Qāṭi‘ah, p52-7)

Thus it was ‘Umarpūrī who had raised the issue of this belief being shirk, and Rāmpūrī brought the example of Malak al-Mawt and Shayṭān to argue that there is no impossibility of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) having knowledge of the gatherings of mawlid as those who partake in it belief, so how can it be shirk?



Complete Passage of Barāhīn e Qāṭi‘ah


In Barāhīn e Qāṭi‘ah (authored: 1887) Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī (1852 – 1927) then wrote a response to ‘Abdus Samī‘ Rāmpūrī. The following are images of the complete passage from the original work followed by a translation of the entire passage.

[In response to point no. 1 above] There is no doubt that this action is unfortunate [1], but the share of this unfortunateness is full only in the lot of the author [‘Abd al-Samī‘ Rāmpūrī]. In many places of this book [Anwār e Sāṭi‘ah], durūd is not written. In the last line of the khuṭbah of the book in the first page, in three places of the second page, his noble name has been written without durūd. The excuse that this is a failure of the printing press, the same excuse should be accepted for Mawlawī ‘Abdul Jabbār. In short, it is common that whatever the author accuses another of, he himself is polluted with it. It is not known why he is so heedless of his own state.

[In response to point no. 2 above] It has been stated in response to the explanation of the question [2] that the verbal form of addressing was assigned [linguistically] for one present and in attendance. Thus, if the verbal form of addressing is anywhere said, then based on the original literal meaning it will be understood as addressing one in attendance. This is why Mawlawī ‘Abdul Jabbār gave the answer to this question that the verses [of poetry] of address if with this belief, it is shirk, and the angle of the other metaphorical meanings, he did not explain. But God Almighty knows what is the author’s level of understanding! As he regards [the answer] to be against and contrary to the question. To regard the concomitant to be contrary to the linguistically assigned cause and to understand the linguistically intended meaning of a statement to be separate from the statement itself is the author’s [lack of] understanding. The author did something similar in Nūr e Awwal, and the answer was given there.

[In response to point no. 3 above] The belief of the entire Ummah is that the respected Pride of the World (upon him peace) and all creatures, the amount of knowledge Allāh Almighty has granted them, and has taught, to affirm one atom more knowledge than that, is shirk. This is derived from all books of Sharī‘ah. Allāh, exalted is He, said: “With Him are the keys to the Unseen, none but He knows them.” The well-known ruling is found in al-Baḥr al-Rā’iq, ‘Alamgīriyyah, Durr Mukhtār etc. that if someone marries with the testimony of Allāh Almighty and the Pride of the World (upon him peace), he becomes Kāfir, because of believing in ‘ilm al-ghayb for the Pride of the World. [3] Thus, in merely believing in the knowledge of the marriage session, it is written Kāfir. No one has written that if it is the belief that there is equality in quantity and quality with divine knowledge (His majesty be exalted), then is he Kāfir, otherwise not.

However, from the author’s write-up, this is the belief that is understood, because he says that Allāh Almighty knows from the Throne to the ground, and is present [in all places], while the Pride of the World is only present in the gatherings of Mawlūd, so where is equality and shirk? It is clearly evident from this that he does not regard this amount of ‘ilm al-ghayb to be shirk! While in all books mere attendance of the session of marriage has been written as shirk. The author does not even have this much awareness that equality in the wajh al-shabah (basis of similarity) between the mushabbah bihī (thing with which similarity is drawn) and mushabbah (thing which is considered similar) is not necessary; the wajh al-shabah itself is sufficient. [4] Thus, here, affirming equality in [possessing] ‘ilm al-ghayb itself is shirk.

If it is the author’s belief that if any attribute of Allāh Almighty is affirmed in quantity and quality for another then it is shirk and otherwise it is not, then it implies that according to the author the Mushrikīn of the Arabs, who being idolaters is found in categorical texts, were definitely not idolaters (mushrik) because they believed the disposal and knowledge of their false gods to be limited – all areas and regions having a separate god; they would not believe that one disposes in the dominion of another. The books of ḥadīth are a testament to this. Now, the beliefs of the author are themselves corrupt; he will make idolaters of the whole world, because when the common people and ignorant have certainty in such disposal and knowledge for the saints, the author has supported, endorsed and certified the belief of all [of them], and led creation astray. May God Almighty guide him, what fitnah he has caused! What remains is his weak example and senseless words, what answer am I to give and pollute the tongue and pen in responding to it? The author has written something so ignorant that it goes against the entire world.

[In response to point no. 4 above] I say: The belief of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa ‘l-Jamā‘ah is that no character from the characters of Allāh Almighty are found in the slave. Whatever the shadow of His characters He grants, it is not possible for anyone to have more than that. Hearing, seeing, knowledge and disposal are real for Allāh Almighty, and metaphorical for creation. “Nothing is as His likeness,” to the end of the verse. Further, whoever has been given whatever amount of knowledge, power etc., he cannot add to it even to the amount of an atom. The expanse that was given to Shayṭān, as well as Malak al-Mawt, and the extent of the condition upon which the sun and moon were made, they have no power to add to that. More activity will not emerge from them.

Nor is lesser or greater virtue dependent on this fewness or muchness. [5] Hazrat Mūsā, upon him peace, is far higher and superior to Hazrat Khiḍr, upon him peace. In spite of this, he has far less knowledge of unveiling than Hazrat Khiḍr. Further, the amount that Hazrat Khiḍr received, he was not able to have more than that. And despite Hazrat Mūsā being superior, he did not receive it. He could not generate equal knowledge of unveiling to Hazrat Khiḍr who is less virtuous than him. Thus, the form of the expanse of light upon which the sun and moon have been made, and this expanse of knowledge that was given to Malak al-Mawt and Shayṭān, this condition of theirs is known from observation and categorical texts. Now, to draw an analogy of one superior to them, to affirm equal or more than [what is found in] this inferior one, is not the activity of any sane person of knowledge.

First, issues of belief are not analogical such that it would be established by analogy. Rather, they are categorical, they are proven by categorical texts, such that a singular report here is not of benefit. Thus, its affirmation will only be worthy of attention when the author proves it from categorical evidences. And against the whole Ummah, if the belief of creation is being corrupted on account of a corrupt analogy, how can it be worthy of attention?

Second, the opposite is proven in Qur’ān and Ḥadīth, so how can its opposite ever be accepted? In fact, all this speech of the author will be rejected. The Pride of the World, upon him peace, said: “By Allāh, I do not know what will be done to me or to you” [6] Shaykh ‘Abdul Ḥaqq narrated: “I don’t have knowledge of what is behind the wall.” [7] The ruling of the session of marriage has been written in al-Baḥr al-Rā’iq and other books.

Third, if being superior entailed this, then all Muslims, even if fāsiq, and the author himself, are superior to Shayṭān; then the author would affirm by his judgement ‘ilm al-ghayb if not more than at least equal to [what] Shayṭān [was given]. By his own judgement, the author is a great one of accomplished faith, so he would definitely, being superior, be more knowledgeable [in matters of the world – which for him are ‘ilm al-ghayb] than Shayṭān. Allāh forbid [affirming such ‘ilm al-ghayb]! There is amazement at this ignorance of the author, and grief – how far the emergence of such unworthy words are from knowledge and reason.

The outcome is: It ought to be contemplated: Seeing the state of Shayṭān and Malak al-Mawt, affirming encompassing knowledge of the world for the Pride of the World, against categorical texts, without evidence, based purely on corrupt analogy, if not shirk, which part of īmān is it? [8] This expanse has been established for Shayṭān and Malak al-Mawt from texts. Which categorical text is there for the expanse of knowledge [of the world] for the Pride of the World, based on which all texts will be rejected [9], and one shirk established? [10]

Having read the definition of “specific” in Tahdhīb al-Manṭiq, remembering it, the author chose an unrefined belief. However, he, mashā Allāh, is yet very far from understanding. What is specific in the knowledge of Allāh Almighty is that His knowledge is intrinsic (dhātī) and real (ḥaqīqī), the concomitant of which is encompassing all things. The knowledge of all creation is metaphorical and shadowy, in that they are acquired from Allāh Almighty. Thus, because of the blessed soul being in attendance in the highest ‘Illiyyīn, and being superior to Malak al-Mawt, it is never established that his knowledge in these matters [11] are equal to Malak al-Mawt, let alone more. The explanation of this has passed above. Affirming this based on analogy is ignorance, not a trace of knowledge gives allowance for this. In short, this weak verification is purely the author’s ignorance. He may not be involved in shirk but he has opened the road for the world. [12]

[In response to point no. 8 above] Further, the stories of the saints that the author has written, then firstly, these stories are not a legal proof establishing a ruling, especially in the topic of beliefs. Thus, accepting these stories and rejecting the texts is not to be expected even of an ignoramus, let alone a scholar. After accepting [their authenticity], the answer is that Allāh Almighty gave unveiling (kashf) to these saints, so that they have this presence of knowledge. If He granted the Pride of the World (upon him peace) a hundred thousand times more than this, it is possible, but actual establishment of it having been given is [proven] from which text, that this be taken as belief? And in Mawlūd gathering, address of second person be done? Mere possibility will not have any effect in this matter. It must be in actuality, and it being established must be [proven] from text. However, the poor understanding of the author is worthy of a spectacle. He understands nothing.

This discussion is in the situation that anyone holds this belief, affirming intrinsic knowledge for him, just as is the belief of the ignorant. If he recognises that Allāh Almighty making him aware causes him to be in attendance, it is not shirk, but without evidence of Sharī‘ah, holding this belief is not correct, and without evidence, keeping such a belief, entails sin.

[In response to point no. 9 above] Now, it is evident that no ḥadīth-scholar, jurist, or God-fearing person or ṣūfī is mushrik. However, whoever has a belief agreeing with the write-up of the author, will definitely be mushrik. [13] Presenting these passages and reports as proof for his baseless claim is only the deficient understanding of the author; otherwise, there is no evidence for the claim of the author, as is not hidden.

(Barāhīn e Qāṭiah, p52-7)

Now, given this entire context, is there any room to misunderstand what Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī is saying? Keep in mind:

  1. He is responding to Anwār e Sāṭi‘ah in which the topic of discussion is the passage of ‘Umarpūrī, and in particular what is and is not shirk in regard to affirming knowledge of certain gatherings to the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam)
  2. It is Anwār e Sāṭi‘ah that mentions Malak al-Mawt and Shayṭān as examples
  3. Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī says shirk is to affirm non-granted self-generated intrinsic knowledge, no matter what amount – even one gathering. He proves this from the books of Fiqh.
  4. Affirming knowledge based on an analogy of one superior to one inferior can only prove intrinsic knowledge.
  5. Thus, Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī argues Rāmpūrī is aiding idolatrous beliefs found amongst commoners
  6. But even on the basis of this analogy, Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī clarifies that if one’s belief is that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) only has granted knowledge (of specific worldly knowledge that is not proven for him), it is sinful but not shirk
  7. He further says virtue is not dependent on the expanse under discussion – i.e. certain types of worldly knowledge
  8. He clearly says “in these matters” and “this expanse”, specifying those things that are not the basis of virtue

Given this context, the controversial passage (highlighted above in bold) is completely unproblematic and makes complete sense, and is completely free of “blasphemy” or kufr.

[1] Rāmpūrī had described Umarpūrī’s failure to mention durūd as being “unfortunate”

[2] See: Barāhīn, p27

[3] It states in al-Fatāwā al-Bazzāziyyah: “A [man] weds [a woman] without witnesses, saying: ‘I make the Messenger of Allāh and Angels witness’, he has become a Kāfir, because he believes that the Messenger and Angel know the Ghayb, as distinguished from his saying: ‘I make the angel on the left shoulder and the angel on the right shoulder witness’, he would not become Kāfir, because they are aware [of that].” (al-Fatāwā al-Bazzāziyyah, 6:325) In al-Muḥīṭ al-Burhānī (Idārat al-Qur’ān, 7:407), the same mas’alah is found ending with: “because they are aware of that as they are not absent from him.”

[4] These are the basic parts of a simile (tashbīh). In other words, the shirk that is established on account of affirming ‘ilm al-ghayb does not need to be because of complete equality in the basis of similarity (in this case, ‘ilm al-ghayb) between the mushabbah bihī (in this case, the Prophet) and the mushabbah (in this case, Allāh), but just the fact of having that quality (i.e. ‘ilm al-ghayb, which is knowledge to which a creation has no access) is sufficient.

[5] Here, the author makes it clear that the expanse that is being spoken of is in areas that have absolutely no involvement in virtue.

[6] He was told to say this in Qur’ān (46:9), and it is reported from him in Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī. This would mean, according to the author, that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) does not have detailed knowledge of what will be done to him in future, though he of course has the basic (non-detailed) knowledge of his salvation and success. Or it means, he does not know what will happen to him in this world, while in the next world he is of course aware of his own salvation.

[7] He reported this in Ashi‘iat al-Lam‘āt in a context of adducing this narration as proof, without commenting on it being authentic or otherwise. This is where the author is quoting from.

[8] Given the context, it should be clear what is meant by this statement. From such corrupt analogy (that goes against categorical evidence), only self-generated or intrinsic knowledge of ghayb can be affirmed. And this is of course shirk.

[9] Meaning, the texts of Qur’ān, Ḥadīth and Fiqh that disprove the Prophet has encompassing worldly knowledge.

[10] The meaning of this rhetorical question is that there are no categorical texts which affirm encompassing worldly knowledge for the Prophet, so to affirm such knowledge without evidence is to affirm intrinsic, non-granted knowledge, for him – and this is shirk.

[11] It is clear by saying “in these matters” he means those things Rāmpūrī pointed out i.e. knowing the activities of all people on a day-to-day basis. Malak al-Mawt has more awareness of this type of knowledge than the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), as Malak al-Mawt is more involved in these things than the Prophet. After referring to the hadith “You are more aware of the affairs of your world“, Qāḍī ‘Iyāḍ makes the general point:

فمثل هذا وأشباهه من أمور الدنيا التي لا مدخل فيها لعلم ديانة، ولا اعتقادها، ولا تعليمها يجوز عليه فيها ما ذكرناه.. إذ ليس في هذا كله نقيصة ولا محطة، وإنما هي أمور اعتيادية يعرفها من جربها وجعلها همه. وشغل نفسه بها والنبي صلى الله عليه وسلم مشحون القلب بمعرفة الربوبية، ملآن الجوانح بعلوم الشريعة، قصيد البال بمصالح الأمة الدينية والدنيوية. ولكن هذا إنما يكون في بعض الأمور ويجوز في النادر. وفيما سبيله التدقيق في حراسة الدنيا واستثمارها، لا في الكثير المؤذن بالبله والغفلة.

“In such things and their likes from the matters of the world which have no involvement in religious knowledge, belief or education, what we mentioned is possible for him, as none of this is deficiency or diminishment. Rather, they are ordinary things known to those who have experience of them and make it their concern and occupy their minds with them. The Prophet’s (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) heart is filled with knowledge of the divine, his sides filled with knowledges of Sharī‘ah, his mind restrained by the religious and worldly interests of the Ummah. But this will only be in some affairs…not in many, which would signify stupidity or ignorance.” (al-Shifā’, Jā’izah Dubai, p. 724)

[12] As he has given concession for them to believe the Prophet has non-granted knowledge, self-generating in him.

[13] Meaning, the person who believes in the Prophet’s knowledge of things of the world proceeding only from false analogy – as this can only prove intrinsic knowledge, which is shirk.

Did Mawlānā Gangohī Compare Mawlid to the Hindu Festival of Kanhaiya Janam?

January 12, 2020

Some Barelwīs allege that Mawlānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī is guilty of blasphemy for comparing the Mawlid to the festival of Kanhaiya Janam (play-acting the birth of Kanhaiya). For example, Munawwar Ateeq Rizvi wrote in 2010: “The blasphemous comments of the scholars of Deoband include… that the mawlid was like the Hindu festival of Kunhya Janam… (in…Baraheen Qaatiah)!”

This is based on a fatwā of Mawlānā Gangohī, which is reproduced in full in Barāhīn Qāṭi‘ah.

A translation of the substantive parts of the fatwā is given below. One will notice the whole fatwā is regarding qiyām (the ritual standing at the mention of the Prophetic birth), which many of the ignorant believed to be obligatory (wājib). Moreover, the comparison to the Hindu festival of play-acting the birth of Kanhaiya was made with respect to a particular belief or defence for this ritual standing. Namely, that some believe that when the Prophet’s blessed soul came from the world of souls into the present world, as a mark of respect we ought to stand, and they are re-enacting that event, and thus standing out of respect! Mawlānā Gangohī says to re-enact the Prophetic birth and behave as though it is happening at the time of the re-enaction is similar to how Hindus behave when play-acting the birth of Kanhaiya; and this has no basis in Sharī‘ah, and is in fact impermissible.

One can see how the Barelwi allegation that Mawlānā Gangohī compared the Mawlid itself to the Hindu festival of Kanhaiya Janam is completely dishonest. Firstly, the comparison was not made with respect to the Mawlid but with respect to the ritual standing (qiyām). Furthermore, it was not made with respect to the qiyām per se, but with respect to a particular belief associated with the qiyām held by some ignorant people. The relevant parts of the fatwā are translated below, and the paragraph in reference is highlighted in bold.


The standing which is in vogue in the majlis mawlūd sharīf out of respect for the mention of the birth of Haḍrat Muḥammad Muṣṭafā (Allāh bless him and grant him peace), which takes place in this time, is it correct to consider this standing necessary or not? And if it is not necessary, will the one who gives fatwā of it being necessary be sinful or not? And if sinful, at which level?


To stand up at the time of mentioning the birth is not established anywhere in the three generations. Although the conducts and states of the revered master of the world, and the mention of the states by way of admonition, teaching, revision and narration, in those generations, occurred countless time, yet it is not established in any narration that at the time of mentioning the birth that anyone ever stood, or that anywhere the master of the world (upon him peace) in any way described it as being recommended or an etiquette. Whether some stood for the respected pride of the world himself (upon him blessing and peace), this is outside the discussion, and to make an analogy with this is mere ignorance. The discussion is over the habitual practice of the fools of our time at the mention of his birth. Where is this established? This has never been established.

Firstly, this is sufficient proof of their innovation being baseless. As there has been so much extremism in this, such that the common ignoramuses have started to regard it as necessary, and censure the one who doesn’t do it, it has become an abomination and wicked innovation. This is an innovated affair. If the commoners begin to think something established as permissible to be necessary, that too is impermissible and an abomination. It is narrated from ‘Abdullāh ibn Mas‘ūd (may Allah – Exalted is He – be pleased with him) that he said: “Let not one of you make for Shayṭān any part of salāh, viewing that it is a duty on him that he does not turn except to his right. Indeed, I had seen the Messenger of Allah (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) frequently turning to his left (agreed upon).” ‘Alī al-Qārī said in the commentary of this hadīth: “The one who persists on a desirable matter and makes it a firm resolve, and does not act on a dispensation, the Shayṭān has acquired from him deviation, so what of the one who persists on innovation and abomination?!” It states in Fatāwā ‘Ālamgīriyyah: “What is done after the ṣalāh is makrūh because the ignorant people believe it to be sunnah or wajib and every permissible act leading to this is makrūh.”

Thus, firstly, it has been established that this standing has never been proven in any ḥadīth or athar, whether one that is verbal, practical or based on tacit approval. Thus this matter is itself invented. Secondly, if hypothetically, something did happen, it was nothing like wājib, sunnah or mustaḥabb, because wājib is the practice that is established by decisive evidence and conjectural indication or conjectural evidence and decisive indication, and here in the matter of standing, there is no clear text (naṣṣ) even, neither strong nor weak; and sunnah refers to the ruling in which it is established he (upon him peace) or the righteous caliphs persisted, and since in the matter of standing nothing is established not even once, it cannot even be mustaḥabb and mandūb, let alone sunnah.

The most that can be said of the matter if someone tries very hard is that it is permissible and neutral. But to regard a mubāḥ act as sunnah or wājib will make it an innovation and abomination, as has become clear from the statement of Ibn Mas‘ūd (Allāh be pleased with him) and Mullā Alī Qārī (Allāh have mercy on him) and the narration of ‘Ālamgiriyyah.

Anyhow, to declare this standing necessary is harām, and the one who says so is a fāsiq and perpetrator of major sin because that practice which the lawgiver has forbidden (i.e. introducing a new ritual into religion), he has declared wājib. Thus, it is pure opposition to the bright Sharī‘ah. Allāh (Exalted is He) said: “And whosoever opposes the Messenger after guidance becomes clear to him and follows other than the way of the believers we will turn him to what he has turned and make him roast in hell, evil an abode.”

The upshot is that standing at the time of mentioning the birth either:

    1. Has the reason that these people take support from some fabricated narration, or adhere to some saying or practice of scholars. It is known that fabrications and the statements and actions of scholars do not establish a ruling and dispensation until a proof of Shar‘īah is found. Thus, in this situation, recommendation etc. is not proven. Whoever by their own judgement considers [a ḥadīth] to be established, even then to consider it obligatory and emphasised is bid‘ah.
    1. Or it has the reason that the pure soul (upon him peace) came from the world of souls to the world of seeing, so standing is done to honour this. This too is pure foolishness because in this case standing ought to be done at the time of the blessed birth occurring. Which birth is being repeated each day? Thus, this re-enactment of the birth each day is like the Hindus who observe the play-acting (sāng) of the birth of Kanhaiya each year, or like the Rawāfiḍ who recreate [the events of] the martyrdom of the prophetic household each year. Allāh forbid, they have established a play-acting (sāng) of his (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) birth. Just this act is worthy of blame and is ḥarām and wickedness. In fact, these people have exceeded them [the Hindus and Rawāfiḍ]. They do it at a specific date. They have no restrictions. Whenever they want, they create these imagined tales. Such a thing is not observed anywhere in Sharī‘ah, that an imagined matter is established, and is treated as though it is real. Rather, this is forbidden in Sharī‘ah. Thus, based on this reason, this standing would be ḥarām and become a cause of imitating the disbelievers and the wicked.
    1. Or it has the reason that in the corrupt view of these innovators, the victorious soul [of the Prophet] attends this gathering of evils and sins and illicit activities, and this assembly of wicked people and sinners, and this location of innovations and evils. Allāh forbid! If the belief is that he is ‘Ālim al-Ghayb, this belief itself is shirk. It states in the Qur’ān: “With Him are the keys of the ghayb. None but He knows them.” And: “Had I known the ghayb, I would have amassed good and no evil would afflict me.” Thus, to perform the standing with this belief will itself be shirk.
    1. Those who do not say he is ‘Ālim al-Ghayb but have a different evidence or proof of attendance, then understand well that in the topic of beliefs it is necessary to have a decisive text. A belief cannot be established based on singular narrations and speculative evidences, let alone weak and fabricated narrations. In the matter of attendance, which decisive narration is there on which this belief can be based? Thus, this belief is pure following of desires and a scheme of the devil. In such a situation, this standing, with this belief, is a major sin.

In brief, this standing in the first situation is bid‘ah and an abomination, and in the second situation is ḥarām and wickedness, and in the third situation is disbelief and in the fourth situation is following desires and a major sin. Thus, in no situation is it licit and permissible.

Barāhīn e Qāṭi’ah, Dārul Ishā‘at, p.151-2

Barāhīn Qāṭi‘ah on the Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam being a “Brother”

January 12, 2020

Some Barelwīs allege that Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī/Mawlānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī are guilty of blasphemy for describing the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) in Barāhīn Qāṭi‘ah as a “brother” to people. For example, Munawwar Ateeq Rizvi wrote in 2010: “The blasphemous comments of the scholars of Deoband include…that the Prophet was a brother to people etc. (in…Baraheen Qaatiah)!”

The following is a translation of the complete section of Barāhīn Qāṭi‘ah in reference so readers can assess whether this really is “blasphemy” (as Munawwar claims) or another example of the Barelwī passion to call out anything as “blasphemy” when it comes from their theological opponents.

When the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) forbade ṣawm wiṣāl (continuous fasting without ifṭār) and when some companions, in order to justify their violation of this prohibition, said that he (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) himself performs it, he replied: “Which of you is like me? I spend the night while my Rabb feeds me and gives me drink.” (Bukhārī) And in another version, he said: “I am not like any of you…” (Muslim)

‘Abd al-Samī‘ al-Rāmpūri used this narration in Anwār Sāṭi‘ah to criticise those who regard the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) as our “brother” (which is an indirect reference to Shāh Ismā‘īl Shahīd and his Taqwiyat al-Īmān, where he referred to all prophets and men of piety as “brothers” in humanity – as opposed to gods – while commenting on a ḥadīth in which the Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam described himself as “your brother” – see for an explanation here).

In response, Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī writes in Barāhīn Qāṭi‘ah:

I say:

In the ḥadīth, “Which of you is like me?” the intent is likeness in proximity to Allāh Almighty, which is clearly indicated by the words he said after this: “My Rabb feeds me and gives me drink.” The same is the case with the verse: “You [O wives of the Prophet] are not like any of the women” (Qur’an 33:32), in which is intended negation of likeness in terms of the honour of being the wives [of the Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam] and the consequences of being the wives [of the Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam].

Not even the least Muslim will claim likeness with the Pride of the World (upon him blessings) in proximity to Allāh and his lofty perfections. However, all children of Ādam are equal to him in the very property of being human (nafs bashariyyat) as Allāh Himself states: “Say: I am but a man like you.” And after this, the qualification “revelation comes to me” (Qur’an 18:110), again establishes the position of proximity to Allāh after affirming likeness in being human.

Thus, if anybody says that he is a brother, in the sense of being from the descendants of Ādam, there is no contradiction with the texts, but it is perfectly in line with the texts [of Qur’ān and Ḥadīth]. The Pride of the World (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) also said: “I hoped to see my brothers.” (Muslim) Thus, he has affirmed brotherhood based on being from the children of Ādam and this basis is completely in line with Qur’ān and Ḥadīth, and attacking this is an attack on Qur’ān and Ḥadīth, and disagreeing with this is opposition to the clear texts [of Qur’ān and Ḥadīth]. Thus, the one who says he is a brother means it in the sense that he is from the children of Ādam, not because he believes in likeness in terms of proximity to Allāh! Thus, an attack on this stems from nothing but an opposition to the texts.

To take out his (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) person from being human – which is the noblest and most exalted of creation – and placing him in another species is pure disrespect and degradation of his lofty station. The author has not yet understood what the one who said this meant, and the author’s attack is [in reality] of the Qur’ān and Ḥadīth themselves. Nonetheless, this is surely him exposing his own lack of understanding. The verse, “You [O wives of the Prophet] are not like any of the women” is understood in the same way.

I say:

There is no doubt that brotherhood in the very property of being human, and equality in terms of being from the children of Ādam, has been established in the text of the Qur’ān; while, in the perfections of proximity, nobody has called him a brother or believes him to be equal [with others]. Thus, this objection is complete sophistry, against understanding and reason. (Barāhīn Qāṭi‘ah, p. 7)

Where is the blasphemy in this passage? In this passage, the author states no one is equal to the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) in proximity to Allāh and his lofty perfections. But in the very property of being human, he is equal to all human beings, as confirmed in Qur’ān and Ḥadīth, and in this sense he has been referred to as our brother (as found in some ḥadīths).

Latest Print of Nibrās – ‘Allāmah ‘Abdul ‘Azīz al-Farhārī al-Multānī on the Definition of ‘Ilm al-Ghayb

January 8, 2020

‘Allāmah ‘Abdul ‘Azīz ibn Aḥmad al-Qurashī al-Farhārī (approx. 1794 – 1825 CE), from Multan (in present-day Pakistan), one of the great Sunnī scholars of that region and a prolific author (despite young age), wrote a widely-accepted marginalia on Sharḥ al-‘Aqā’id al-Nasafiyya, called al-Nibrās. A recent edition has been made available online – find here.

One of the gems from this marginalia is his comprehensive explanation of the meaning/definition of ghayb in Sharī‘ah:

A translation is as follows:

Realise that people have unrefined words on the topic of ghayb. The verification is that ghayb is that which is hidden from the senses, necessary knowledge and deductive knowledge. The Qur’ān has pronounced its negation from all besides Him, exalted is He. Thus, whoever claims that he knows it has disbelieved, and whoever assents to (the claim of) a claimant has disbelieved. As for that which is known through sense or necessity or evidence, it is not ghayb, nor has one disbelieved by claiming it, nor by assenting to it with certainty in that which is certain and with uncertainty in that which is conjectural, according to the verifiers.

With this verification, the difficulty in the issues which are assumed that they are from the ghayb but are not (in fact) from them as they are perceived by hearing, seeing, necessity or evidence, is dispelled. One of them is the reports of the prophets because they are acquired from revelation and from the creation of a necessary knowledge in them or from the exposure of the existents to their senses.

The second of them is the reports of a saint because it is acquired from a prophet or a pious dream or divine inspiration or from looking into the Preserved Tablet which is established from those who experience [mystical] unveiling, although some jurists deny it.

The third of them is the report of the one who calculates the solar and lunar eclipse because it is based on decisive mathematical evidences.

The fourth of them is the reports of an astrologer and geomancer because astrology and geomancy are two evidentiary sciences that were sent down on some of the prophets and were then lost and the people became confused over them, so whoever draws evidence using a prophetic principle, he will be correct in the report.

The fifth of them is the report of a soothsayer because it is from that which the jinn inform him from observation or hearing the angels who are aware of future existents by means of revelation.

Further, we say: Many of the ḥadīths and statements of the Salaf have pronounced kufr on the astrologer and soothsayer and whoever assents to them, and several verifiers have stated that anathematisation is limited to the one who claims knowledge of ghayb or believes the stars manage (the creation) independently or believes the jinn know the ghayb.

I say: And despite this, engaging in astrology and soothsaying and assenting to them is not from the practice of the righteous people, and there is no doubt that they entail damaging the beliefs of the weak amongst the Muslims as they suppose the one giving the information is knower of ghayb; on top it being difficult for the īmān of a soothsayer to be secure as he seeks assistance from the devils.

Preserve this verification as it is from the unique features of our writings.

(al-Nibrās, p739-40)

Answering an Objection to Ḥifẓ al-Īmān – Did Maulānā Thānawī Restrict Virtue to Complete Knowledge of Ghayb?

January 7, 2020

Read this first.

A common objection raised (by Aḥmad Riḍā Khān himself and then his followers) against this passage of if al-Īmān* is that for endowing the title “‘Ālim al-Ghayb” for creation (based on knowledge of ghayb acquired via a means), Maulānā Thānawī only allows for two possibilities or options: ba‘ḍ ‘ulūm ghaybiyyah (partial knowledge of ghayb) or tamām ‘ulūm ghaybiyyah (complete knowledge of ghayb). It is as though he does not allow for anything in between for virtue or excellence in knowledge of ghayb.

This objection emanates from a misunderstanding of what Maulānā Thānawī was trying to achieve. His purpose was not to discuss at what point a person will be deserving of virtue or excellence. Rather, his purpose was to deter his readers from using the title “‘Ālim al-Ghayb” for any creature, as in Sharī‘ah it is a term exclusive to Allāh. He first explains that “‘Ālim 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, in relation to using the term ghayb for unseen knowledge acquired via a means, he presents the argument found in the passage in question.

The objection raised against this passage will be answered briefly below.

Ghayb is a maṣdar (verbal noun). A maṣdar in principle refers to a single entity (fard), as stated in Nūr al-Anwār (المصدر الذي هو فرد). A single entity can either be literally a single entity (fard ḥaqīqī) or in terms of consequence (fard ḥukmī). The latter refers to the entirety of the thing, because the entirety of a thing in relation to other things is like a “single entity” although in and of itself it is many things put together.**

Hence the term “ghayb” mentioned in “‘Ālim al-Ghayb” either refers to any part of ghayb (which in this context means unseen knowledge received via a means) or it means every single thing from ghayb. If it is the first meaning that is meant, this is not unique to the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). Based on this, everyone will be entitled to be called “‘Ālim al-Ghayb”! In other words, based on this meaning, it would not be accurate to say the term can be limited to the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), as based on this meaning, another person can just as well claim it can be used for himself. And if it is the second meaning that is meant (i.e. complete ghayb), this is discounted for the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) by textual and rational evidences.

This in a nutshell is Maulānā Thānawī’s argument. As one can see, there is nothing problematic in this at all.

* The following passage:

“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 “‘Ālim 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 “‘Ālim al-Ghayb”!”

** So, for example, the scholars of Uṣūl state that the maṣdar “ṭalāq” (divorce) can refer to a single ṭalāq or to triple-ṭalāq, because the latter is the maximum number of ṭalāqs and thus is a single entity in terms of consequence. It cannot refer to two ṭalāqs, however.