Introduction and Background to al-Shihāb al-Thāqib by Mawlānā Ḥusayn Aḥmad Madanī
Since al-Shihāb al-Thāqib by Mawlānā Ḥusayn Aḥmad Madanī (1296 – 1377 H/1879 – 1957 CE)* is an important work in both explaining the background to Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī’s shenanigans in the Ḥijāz/exposing him as a fraudster and deceiver, as well as in showing the differences between the Akābir of Deoband and the Wahhābīs, it will be worth sharing a translation of the introduction to the book so that the background to, and reasons for, its authorship can be appreciated.
Along with getting an idea of the contents of the work, one will also be able to appreciate the efforts made to give a detailed response to the slanders and lies of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī (1856 – 1921) directly by the Akābir.* The introduction translated below makes up about 5 pages of a book consisting of a total of over 90 pages.
The book was written around the year 1910 CE (i.e. many years before the Saudi/Wahhābī takeover of Ḥijāz) while Mawlānā Madanī was still residing in Madīnah, having lived there for over ten years. (He lived in Madīnah between the years 1899 and 1914 CE). A lengthy, and illuminating, part of the introduction contains a somewhat detailed description of the reaction of the scholars of Makkah and Madīnah to Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s arrival in the Ḥijāz and to his request for their signed approvals to his fatwā. This part has not been translated, but a summary of it is given below.
[*In a letter dated 1370 H/1950 CE, Mawlānā Madanī wrote about the work al-Shihāb al-Thāqib: “Since it was written against Mawlawī Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī’s refutation, Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn, the discussion on Wahhābīs came as a secondary [discussion], the objective of which is [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 this book remains my position, and it is the way of my noble predecessors.” (Cherāgh e Muḥammad, p. 118]
[** Of course, the Akābir who were themselves accused also made direct refutations: Mawlānā Thānawī in a detailed discussion in his Basṭ al-Banān, Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī in his Muhannad, and even Mawlānā Gangohī rejected the attribution of the fabricated fatwā to himself as reported by his student, Sayyid Murtaḍā Ḥasan Chāndpūrī (Majmū‘ah Rasā’il Chāndpūrī, 1:106).]
The following is a translation of the introduction to the book:
The Piercing Projectile on the Eavesdropping Liar
Praise to the One Who adorned the sky of the two Noble Ḥarams with stars of pious ‘Ulamā’ and protection from every accursed rebellious devil. ‘They do not eavesdrop on the highest company and are bombarded from every side, repelled, and they have a lingering punishment – except for one who snatches a fragment, who is then followed by a piercing projectile.’ (Qur’ān, 37:8-10)
Thanks to the One Who granted the lordly imāms with a plentiful share of the Prophetic Legacy and those things left behind by al-Muṣṭafā, even to the point that He appointed for each of them ‘an enemy, devils of man and jinn, inspiring one another with fancy words to deceive’ (Qur’ān, 6:112) and ‘to strive for corruption on the earth’ (Qur’ān, 5:33), ‘for indecency to spread amongst the believers’ (Qur’ān, 24:19) and to split the adherents of Islām, so that they gain in aversion amongst themselves – and thereafter, He punished them causing their fancies and contrivances to vanish, and exposing them over the heads of witnesses, revealing their ploy and expelling each of them from the cosmos of [His] mercy, condemned and defeated.
And blessing and peace be upon the one who brought guidance and the Religion of Truth to make it manifest over all religion, even if the idolaters detest it; and [who brought] signs that break the necks of those who wish to extinguish the light of Allāh with their mouths, but Allāh refuses but for His light to be complete, even if the wicked are angered; and [blessing and peace be] upon his progeny and his companions who cleansed the upright religion from the impurities of doubt, unconcerned by those who oppose them from the obstinate ones, and [who] expended their efforts in making the word of the Sunnah and Congregation high, giving no attention to the innovations of the deviated People of Desires; and [blessing and peace be] upon their followers in excellence and sincerity till the Day of Judgement – for verily they are the nation from all communities holding firmly to justice, and with sincere concern for truth, till the Day of Resurrection, neither harmed by those who oppose them nor forsaken because of those who abandon them, by assistance of the Most Merciful of the merciful ones, and they are the pivots of the Bright Sharī‘ah and of the White Monotheism, by glad-tidings of the Unlettered Prophet, Allāh bless him and grant him, his progeny and his companions peace.
The servant of the students [of Dīn], Ḥusayn Aḥmad ibn Sayyid Ḥabībullāh al-Ḥanafī al-Ḥusaynī al-Chishtī al-Ṣābirī al-Rashīdī al-Fayḍābādī thumma l-Madanī, submits in the holy service of all Muslims residing in India that:
A long period ago, this lowly one, having left his ancestral hometown, the province of Fayḍābād, with his honorable father – may his honor remain –, had entered into the shadow of Prophetic Bounty (upon him blessing and peace) – that is, Madīnah Munawwarah. Because, since childhood, and in fact since infancy, I have had no other preoccupation besides academic engagements, this is why there too I have not engaged in any preoccupation besides studying, teaching and keeping the company of scholars and students. Till now, the part of my life spent there, I have endeavored as far as possible to spend in these activities. This is why I have gained a complete familiarity with the Muslim residents of the Pure City and a full acquaintance with their conditions, beliefs and ideas. I can say with conviction that the revered noble scholars living in Madīnah Munawwarah – Allāh increase it in honour and excellence – follow completely the Ahl al-Sunnah wa l-Jamā‘ah and the seniors of the predecessors in beliefs and so on, and they agree with all the beliefs of the revered Elders of the ‘Ulamā’ of Deoband and Sahāranpūr, both in particulars and universals, without even slight variation.
However, at the start of 1324 H (1906 H), an astonishing disaster occurred, that one “Ḥaḍrat Barelwī,” who is referred to by his devotees as “reviver of the present century,” journeyed to the Ḥijāz in this year. And there is no doubt that he is indeed “reviver of the present century,” since those individuals of the past who endeavoured and struggled hard to declare the Elders and People of Truth to be deviant and wicked, regarding the targeting of their dignity and honour and spending one’s precious life in debasing and anathematising them a cause of salvation and high rank, for some time, their zeal had become extremely diminished, and their power had become close to being non-existent. This “A‘lā Ḥaḍrat” Barelwī gave life to their decomposed bones. He transformed their weakness into strength. He brought into existence such varying types of injustice and savagery that he became the ultimate reminder and revival of his predecessors from the people of deception and injustice, and in fact he became the pride of all previous fabricators. A practising scholar, researcher and the Sunnī ‘Ulamā of India [in general] are unfortunate who were not martyred at the savage hands of this “A‘lā Ḥaḍrat”. In fact, no group in those lands will be of the “saved group” who this Barelwī reviver and his followers did not slaughter with their pens and tongues.
Friends! This prophecy of the Accepted Messenger (upon him peace) is still manifesting. In how many ways is, ‘You will surely follow the ways of those before you…’  ultimately being put into effect? The Jews were filled with [the qualities of]: ‘they slaughter the prophets without right’ (Qur’ān, 3:112), ‘their killing of the prophets’ (Qur’ān, 3:181), ‘their consumption of the impermissible’ (Qur’ān, 5:62), and ‘they take words out of context’ (Qur’ān, 4:46). Thus, in accordance with the statement of the Prophet (upon him peace): ‘the scholars of my ummah are like the prophets of Banū Isrā’īl’ , these [followers of theirs] strive to anathematise the erudite scholars and learned ones of excellence, which is far greater than murder. If by murder, it is intended to eliminate the body and negate bodily life, the intent of takfīr is eliminating the soul and destroying the life of īmān. If the Jews would consume the impermissible, then these [followers of theirs] treat interest as their nourishment. If they manipulated the words of Tawrāh, then these [followers of theirs] manipulate the meanings of Qur’ān and ḥadīth and mutilate the words of reliable ‘Ulamā’. Then, why would it not be said that they are the ultimate reminders of their predecessors from the Israelites and revivers of taḍlīl and tafsīq of a deceased nation? Well, whatever will be, will be. I have no purpose in this to [explain] which bright sun of the cosmos of misguidance and which luminous full moon of the constellation of deviance he is.
When “Ḥaḍrat Mujaddid al-Takfīr Ṣāḥib” (reviver of takfīr) arrived at the lands of Ḥijāz, he propagated astonishing deception and fraud, and deceived the ‘Ulamā’ of the two Noble Ḥarams using various kinds of plots and ploys. Some unacquainted simple-hearted individuals undoubtedly fell prey to his plot of forgery; but those who Allāh (Exalted is He) granted complete powers of discretion, criticism and insight, or those who someone alerted, did not at all fall prey to his deception.
To maintain his agenda, “Mujaddid Ṣāḥib” had to undoubtedly endure various kinds of hardships, difficulties, indignities and insults. In fact, because of this disturbance, all the ‘Ulamā’ of India were debased and humiliated in the eyes of others. Thus, I have time and again, at that time and after that time, heard the people of Egypt, Levant, Ḥijāz and other [places] attacking this “Ḥaḍrat Mujaddid al-Takfīr Ṣāḥib”, as well as the whole population of India. Although in Tamhīd Shayṭānī and other [books] also, many praises and commendations are quoted, but at the same time, they are a few numbered individuals, and even they [made these statements] before they were aware of his reality; otherwise, the people of Ḥijāz in general, in the end, came to know of his nature. See Risālah Madīnah, what was and was not written with respect to him. I will write details of this later. Since this lowly one was at this time present in Madīnah Munawwarah, may Allāh increase it in honour and excellence, this is why I am fully aware of all of these events as they unfolded, and know very well those who explicitly opposed him.
Ḥaḍrāt! He made very severe allegations against the revered ‘Ulamā’ and Elders of Deoband, describing them in such a way that seeing which, every religious person would express severe dislike and aversion. Since this lowly one has plucked the fruits of the revered Elders of Deoband and Gangoh and is wrapped up in their hem of compassion, & for seven to eight years I was a sweeper at the court of these Elders and acquired the service of straightening their shoes, this is why I know the beliefs, ideas and practices of these Elders very well. Because of this, at that time also, I had exposed these ploys and allegations in Madīnah Munawwarah, and I showed people the treatises of the Elders. However, those individuals who had already put their signatures before this awareness, as I will describe later, became helpless, and they said after this recognition: “We had put conditions in our respective commendations [i.e. that the fatwā is only valid if the information in the question was correct].”
The upshot is that “Ḥaḍrat Mujaddid al-Taḍlīl Ṣāḥib” came to the Ḥijāz with the idea of achieving [currency for] his falsehood by very hard efforts and immense labour. Achieving some incomplete and complete success, he returned from Madīnah Munawwarah in Rabī‘ al-Thānī of the aforementioned year (i.e. 1324/1906), and for some time kept this hidden, from which the idea came that maybe he received some admonition and became ashamed of his ugly actions; because when the general and special [people] head to the two Noble Ḥarams, this is their intent: that by virtue of attendance and performing worship at those blessed spots, sins are eliminated and lessened. “Mujaddid Ṣāḥib” Barelwī performed this journey with only a sinful purpose, in fact with the purpose of the greatest of major sins, and undertook to deceive the gullible and simple ‘Ulamā’ there. He had drawn those helpless ones to himself, but what is the error of these innocents? What knowledge did they have of what substances of taḍlīl, tafsīq, misguidance and so on, this Barelwī Ṣāḥib was filled with? They worked according to good expectations (ḥusn al-ẓann), and endorsed his speech and practice.
In 1327 H (1909 CE), this lowly one arrived at the lands of India for some personal needs and observed that the compilation of those invectives and takfīrs of the Elders, along with those seals, was printed. It was being taken around here and there by some ignoramuses, seducing the general Muslims away from the People of Truth and making them lose faith in them, using various machinations to get their treat. Seeing this, I became convinced that my earlier thought with respect to “Mujaddid al-Takfīr Ṣāḥib” of having been reformed was completely incorrect. In fact, he was subject to [the description in the verse]: ‘in their hearts is an illness and Allāh has increased them in illness’ (Qur’ān, 2:10) and is an example of: ‘deaf, dumb and blind, so they will not come back [to truth].’ (Qur’ān, 2:18) He had not retreated from his personal practices and the traits of his forbears.
I had intended in Madīnah Munawwarah to properly describe the events of “Mujaddid al-Taḍlīl Ṣāḥib” that unfolded here, making them clear to the Muslim residents of India. However, two things stopped me from this.
First, several reports reached me that “A‘la Ḥaḍrat Mujaddid Barelwī” upon returning was quiet, so [my] tongue remained moist with “reconciliation is best.” (Qur’ān, 4:128) Thus my feeling [about him] mentioned earlier remained attached [to myself]. The content [of the ḥadīth]: ‘The one who repents from a sin is like one who has no sin’ was what hindered the abovementioned intention.
Second, Mawlānā Shaykh Muḥammad Ma‘ṣūm Ṣāḥib Naqshbandī  and Mawlānā Munawwar ‘Alī Ṣāḥib Muḥaddith Rāmpūrī  had written the conditions of this “Mujaddid Barelwī” to those who met with them, and these individuals circulated all of these events in the newspapers.
But alas, caution [is required]! When I saw that people had forgotten these matters and these news reports have been lost, then the initial poison which he who was with me [in Madīnah] brought from there, and because of which he undertook this blessed journey, and wasted thousands of rupees in this endevour, it now became necessary for me to, in notifying you people of those sketchy circumstances authentically, based on what I witnessed or heard there through reliable means, make you aware of his fabrications and contrivances; because the revered ‘Ulamā’ of Deoband, Sahāranpūr etc. are engaged in their academic engagements such that they give no attention to anything else, and believing all matters of “Mujaddid Barelwī” as senseless delusions, they regarded turning their attention in this direction to be opposed to their standing as scholars and opposed to honorable conduct, while elsewhere the ignorant innovators and the opposing party, finding the arena clear, are misguiding the general Muslims. Thus it was necessary, that the extravagant self-boasts made with respect to him in Tamhīd, their reality is recognised; and this too comes to light that those Elders on whose hem of innocence “Mujaddid Ṣāḥib” wanted to put a mark, they are completely clean and pure of those impurities.
It is the fruits of “Mujaddid Ṣāḥib’s” self-interests, search for fame and worldly esteem that is written down in this treatise (i.e. Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn). Those Elders are far removed from those corrupt ideas.
If you people notice any harsh word with regards to him and his group, then excuse this as a mistake of this lowly one. The insulting language which “Mujaddid Ṣāḥib” has used in Tamhīd Shayṭānī and Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn, if they were to be responded to, and if an answer was written according to the dictates of that, then only God knows to where that will lead! I have restrained my instincts completely, and will proceed with the discussion very cautiously. But what am I to do? In places, because of the swears and delusions of this maligner, my instincts go out control, and I am thus rendered helpless. But even still, there too I will not come outside the bounds of dignity and knowledge as far as possible. A full response to him in this respect can be done by those ignoramuses and savages of low stock and bad manners, but that too would be written in the deeds of “Mujaddid Ṣāḥib”. The statement of the Messenger (upon him peace): “Whatever two people swearing at each other say, it [falls] on the initiator”  is a clear text.
The upshot is that when this lowly one arrived at India, I noticed that many savages, who don’t know the difference between alif and bā’, were taking this treatise around to various places, and encouraging people, giving them the idea of circulating it…This is why I felt it appropriate for the purpose of making people informed, a short treatise called al-Shihāb al-Thāqib ‘ala l-Mustariq al-Kādhib be circulated in which the slanders and lies of “Ḥaḍrat Mujaddid al-Muḍillīn” (reviver of the deviators), and the reality of the slanders against the innocent Elders , and the details of such deceptions are known – which he undertook to fulfil his egotistic wants and satanic desires, and for which day and night he remained in thought and concern.
There are two chapters and a conclusion to this short treatise:
Chapter One: An explanation of the deceits and deceptions undertaken in order to acquire the fatwās, and there are many angles to this.
Chapter Two: On an exposé of the allegations against the Elders and detailed answers to them. There are 9 sections in this [chapter]: The first section is on an explanation of the allegation against Mawlānā Nānotwī (Allāh’s mercy be upon him). The second section is an explanation of Khatm al-Nubuwwa in brief. The third section is on explaining the allegation against Mawlānā Gangohī (Allāh’s mercy be upon him). The fourth section is an explanation of the issue of the possibility and impossibility [of lying]. The fifth section is on explaining the allegation against Mawlānā Sahāranpūrī (may his blessing remain). The sixth section is on explaining the passage from al-Barāhīn al-Qāṭi‘ah. The seventh section is on explaining the second allegation against Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Sahāranpūrī (may his blessings remain). The eighth section is on explaining the allegation against Mawlānā Thānawī (may his blessing remain). The ninth section is a clarification of Mawlānā Thānawī’s passage in Ḥifẓ al-Īmān. (al-Shihāb al-Thāqib, Dār al-Kitāb, p. 198-202, 214)
 Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim
 ‘Allāmah Munāwī writes: “Ḥāfiẓ al-‘Irāqī was asked about what is famous on the tongues, vis-a-vis the ḥadīth, ‘the ‘ulamā’ of my ummah are like the prophets of the Banū Isrā’īl’. He said: ‘There is no basis for it nor a chain with this wording. [The ḥadīth]: “the ‘ulamā’ are the heirs of the Prophets,” frees [us] of [the need for] it; and that is an authentic ḥadīth.” (Fayḍ al-Qadīr, 4:384)
 He is described in Nuzhat al-Khawāṭir as follows: “The shaykh, the righteous ‘ālim, Muḥammad Ma‘ṣūm ibn ‘Abd al-Rashīd ibn Aḥmad Sa‘īd al-‘Umarī al-Sirhindī thumma l-Dehlawī, one of the prominent ‘ulamā’ in fiqh and ḥadīth. He was born in Delhi on the 9th of Shawwāl, in the year 1263 (1847 CE). He studied ‘ilm with ‘Allāmah Muḥammad Nawāb ibn Sa‘dullāh al-Khāliṣpūrī and with his father. Then he received ḥadīth, tafsīr etc. from the uncle of his father, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Ghanī ibn Abī Sa‘īd al-‘Umarī al-Dehlawī. He took ṭarīqah from his grandfather, Shaykh Aḥmad Sa‘īd, and travelled with him to the two noble ḥarams in the year 1274 (1858). When his grandfather died, he kept the company of his father in Madīnah Munawwarah and took from him. When his father died, he arrived at India and lived in Rāmpūr, and Nawāb Kalb ‘Alī Khān al-Rāmpūrī honoured his visit, and made a stipend of four hundred rupees per month for him so he was happy to stay there; he stayed there for a long time, and then travelled to the Ḥijāz and lived in Madīnah Munawwarah. I [Sayyid ‘Abd al-Ḥayy] met him in Rāmpūr. He was a pious shaykh, dignified, of immense position and great stature. He teaches and gives instruction of dhikr to his disciples in morning and evening. He has numerous works. He died on the tenth of Sha‘bān in the year 1341 (1923).” (Nuzhat al-Khawāṭir, p. 1373)
 He is described in Nuzhat al-Khawāṭir as follows: “The shaykh, the ‘ālim, the muḥaddith: Munawwar ‘Alī ibn Maẓhar al-Ḥaqq al-Ḥanafī. He was born and brought up in Rāmpūr. He read the short texts with his father and then with Mawlānā Muḥammad Ṣiddīq al-Rāmpūrī. Then he received Manṭiq and philosophy from ‘Allāmah ‘Abd al-Ḥaqq ibn Faḍl Ḥaqq al-Khayrābādī, and received ḥadīth from Sayyid Muḥammad Shāh ibn Ḥasan Shāh al-Ḥusaynī al-Rāmpūrī. Then he took up a teaching position at Madrasa ‘Āliya, where he taught for some time. Then he travelled to the Ḥijāz in the year 1323 (1905), performed ḥajj and ziyārah, and remained there for a full year, and then returned to India. He died in the year 1351 (1932).” (Nuzhat al-Khawāṭir, p. 1385)
 Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim
 For a detailed refutation of these slanders, one may read the second chapter of al-Shihāb al-Thāqib in Urdu, or the English translation of Fayṣlah Kun Munāẓarah available at the following link: ahlussunnah.boards.net/thread/35/decisive-debate-deobandi-barelwi-conflict
Response of the Arab Scholars to Aḥmad Riḍa Khān’s Visit to the Ḥijaz
[Summarised from Mawlānā Ḥusayn Aḥmad Madanī’s al-Shihāb al-Thāqib, p. 202 – 215]
Aḥmad Riḍā Khān arrived at Makkah in the year 1323 H (1905 CE). A short while after he completed the ḥajj, a document was sent from India to Mawlānā Muḥammad Ma‘ṣūm (an Indian scholar residing in Makkah) for it to be presented to the Sharīf of Makkah. The document was intended to warn the Sharīf that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān was a person of fitnah who is very liberal in issuing fatwās of takfīr, tafsīq and taḍlīl to support his strange views. It also mentioned some of his misguided opinions. The document contained signatures from several scholars of India.
A close confidante of the Sharīf, ‘Abd al-Qādir al-Shaybī, came to know of this document. He became enraged at seeing it, and said he will himself take it to the Sharīf. The Sharīf also became very angry, and both he and al-Shaybī made a firm resolution for Aḥmad Riḍā Khān to at once be put in prison. Mawlānā Ḥusayn Aḥmad Madanī here mentions that he came to know of this resolution through several reliable means. (al-Shihāb al-Thāqib, p. 203) However, Mawlānā Muḥammad Ma‘ṣūm and Mawlānā Munawwar ‘Alī Rāmpūrī both insisted to al-Shaybī that he not be put in prison, but instead be interrogated on his beliefs. It appears their motives were for their country, India, to not come into disrepute on account of one of their fellow countrymen being imprisoned in the Ḥijaz. Al-Shaybī agreed.
The works of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān were not at this time available in Makkah, but there was an Urdu commendation he had written on the work of a scholar from Rāmpūr. (Mawlānā Madanī is probably referring to an early edition of: al-Anwār al-Sāṭi‘ah). Based on the contents of this commendation, he was asked three questions: on his usage of azalī (pre-eternal) and abadī (eternal) for the knowledge possessed by the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam); his statement that not even an atom’s weight is excluded from his (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) knowledge; and his conclusion with the words: “blessings be upon the first, the last, the manifest and the hidden” (صلى الله على الأول والآخر والظاهر والباطن), terms that are used in this sequence for Allāh in the Qur’ān. He was told that without clarifying his position on these issues, he will not be free to leave Makkah. Hence, a week or two later, he answered with his usual tact of obfuscation, as follows: by azalī, I meant the start of the world, not “beginningless” as it usually means; there is a mistranslation, I did not say an “atom’s weight” in the Urdu; and there is a typographical error in this phrase, it should have read: “blessing be upon the manifestation (maẓhar) of the First, the Last, the Manifest and the Hidden.” These answers were of course unsatisfactory, so the Sharīf wished that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān be removed from Makkah as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān had expressed great pride in his belief that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) possessed full and complete knowledge of everything that was and will be from the start of the world until its end. He presented his findings to the Makkan scholar he found most connection with, Shaykh Muftī Ṣāliḥ Kamāl. The latter then argued on behalf of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān with two learned Makkan scholars: Shaykh Aḥmad Faqīh and Shaykh Shu‘ayb al-Mālikī, the latter of whom was at that time “Makkah’s greatest scholar, no-one having a study circle equal to his in the Noble Ḥaram.” (al-Shihāb al-Thāqib, p. 205) Shaykh Ṣāliḥ Kamāl was defeated, and these two scholars put it to him that he is arguing on behalf of someone who is clearly misguided. The argument became heated, and eventually came to the attention of the Sharīf, who realised from this episode also that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān is someone stirring up fitnah. On account of this too, he wanted Aḥmad Riḍā Khān to be escorted out of Makkah at the earliest convenience. Mawlānā Ḥusayn Aḥmad Madanī here mentions that he has presented these details in brief, and if anyone would like more information, he is free to contact Shaykh Shu‘ayb al-Mālikī, Shaykh Aḥmad Faqīh, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qādir al-Shaybī, Shaykh Muḥammad Ma‘ṣum or Mawlānā Munawwar ‘Alī Rāmpūrī (who were all alive at the time). (p. 205)
While this was going on, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān sent a message to the Sharīf via Shaykh Ṣāliḥ Kamāl, stating that you are making this great fuss over me even though I am from the leaders of Ahl al-Sunnah wa l-Jamā‘ah, all the while there is a man here in Makkah [referring to ‘Allāmah Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī, who had also come to perform ḥajj in the same year] who (na‘ūdhu billāh) regards Allāh as being untruthful and Satan as having more knowledge than the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), and he has not been admonished in the slightest! When this message reached the Sharīf, Shaykh Aḥmad Faqīh and Shaykh Shu‘ayb al-Mālikī who were present with him, both said that it is not possible that any Muslim could say such speech and this is pure slander. The Sharīf agreed with them. As a result, Shaykh Ṣāliḥ Kamāl felt quite embarrassed for conveying this message.
Up to this point, Shaykh Shu‘ayb had not met Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī. When this reached Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī he made a visit to Shaykh Shu‘ayb and spoke to him. He explained that this slander was directed at him, and he doesn’t at all hold these impure beliefs. He explained, however, that he supports the view of the rational possibility of Allāh going back on His word, while he believes its occurrence is completely impossible. Shaykh Shu‘ayb responded that as soon as he heard the allegation, he knew it to be a lie, and said the view that Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī espoused is supported by the statements of the Mutakallimūn. After Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī explained what he actually said in his al-Barāhīn al-Qāṭi‘ah with respect to the knowledge of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) and demonstrated that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān was guilty of slander, Shaykh Shu‘ayb agreed with him completely, and even went on to present many evidences from Qur’ān and ḥadīths from memory proving that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s view that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) has full and thorough knowledge of all creation is false. They also engaged in further discussions.
Following this, Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī also visited Muftī Ṣāliḥ Kamāl. At first, Muftī Ṣāliḥ Kamāl was uneasy with the meeting because of what he had heard from Aḥmad Riḍā Khān. However, once Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī explained the truth, he became fully content and accepted everything Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī said.
These were events that took place following the ḥajj. Mawlānā Ḥusayn Aḥmad Madani explains that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān had intended to blemish the honour of Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī before the ḥajj, but by Divine Aid, he fell ill and was unable to carry out his plans. And at this time, Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī saw a dream in which Ḥājī Imdādullāh Muhājir Makkī appeared to him and tied something around his waist – which was interpreted as divine assistance (imdādullāh) coming to him. (al-Shihāb al-Thāqib, p. 207) After performing the ḥajj, when Aḥmad Riḍā Khān intended to go forward with his plans, the aforementioned events unfolded starting with the document that came from India – so rather than Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī getting into trouble, it was he that fell into serious trouble! By Divine Aid, Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī performed the ḥajj with complete ease and peace of mind, and then proceeded to Madīnah without any blemish to his honour. On the other hand, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān was at the time that Mawlānā left for Madīnah, humiliatingly forced to remain in Makkah to answer the questions put to him.
[In Naqsh e Ḥayāt, Mawlānā Madanī briefly describes Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī’s visit to Madīnah: “At the start of 1324 H, Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Ṣāḥib arrived at Madīnah Munawwarah after completing the ḥajj, and remained there for approximately fifteen days. Since he was amongst my noble teachers, this is why the students of Madīnah Munawwarah flocked to him, and generally, the ‘Ulamā’ of Madīnah came to visit and receive him. A very large group took ijāzah of the books of ḥadīth and the sciences from him in a large circle within the Noble Masjid, after hearing the opening sections of the books of ḥadīths.” (Naqsh e Ḥayāt, p. 118) He further mentions that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān only arrived at Madīnah some time after Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī had already departed.]
Aḥmad Riḍā Khān had prepared a short treatise full of deception, fraud and deceit, intended to excite the emotions of simple ‘Ulamā’. (This treatise together with signed approvals of it were later compiled as Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn). Following the above events, he took his treatise to the ‘Ulamā’ of Makkah to get their signed approvals of it. Simple and gullible ‘Ulamā’ were deceived by his words and his flattery of them. However, the great ‘Ulamā’ of Makkah (some of whom were already aware of his nature) saw right through him, and based on their natural intelligence and foresight, knew better than to give their endorsements to his fatwā. The following are some of these great scholars:
1. “The most eminent shaykh, the greatest man of virtue, one unmatched in his era, unique in his time, the perspicacious ocean, the vast ocean, the Nawawī of the time, the Rāzī of the present era, the respected, Shaykh Ḥasabullāh al-Makkī al-Shāfi’ī” [1244 – 1335 H/1828 – 1917 CE]. He was a contemporary and equal to the deceased Shāfi‘ī muftī, Shaykh Aḥmad Zaynī Daḥlān. He was an intelligent, perceptive, pious and scrupulous scholar. In all sciences in general, and Shāfi‘ī fiqh and tafsīr in particular, there was no one equal to him in the whole of Makkah. Mawlānā Madanī says: “Further, in age he has surpassed eighty years. In these days, he has lost his eyesight. Many of the ‘Ulamā’ of the two ḥarams are from his students. It is heard often from the Shāfi‘īs that in Makkah Mu‘aẓẓamah there is no greater scholar in the Shāfi‘ī madhhab than him. Anyone who stopped by at Makkah for even a few days will most certainly come to know of him. Whoever wants may ask the people of the two noble ḥarams of his condition. This lowly one has not given his description in any way that matches with his real condition. In brief, he, on account of precaution, refused to endorse ‘Mujaddid Ṣāḥib’s’ treatise.” (al-Shihāb al-Thāqib, p. 208) [Note: Mawlānā Madanī narrated ḥadīth from Shaykh Ḥasabullāh. See: al-Arba‘ūna Ḥadīthan by Shaykh Yāsīn al-Fādānī, p. 59; Cherāgh e Muḥammad, p. 106]
2. “The sun of the sky of investigation, the full moon of the cosmos of scrutinisation, combiner of rational and transmitted [knowledge], gatherer of peripherals and principles, the imām of the muḥaddithīn, the chief of the mufassirīn, Mawlānā Shaykh Shu‘ayb al-Mālikī, may his blessings last, Mālikī imām and khaṭib at the Noble Ḥaram.” His study circle was the greatest in the ḥaram. He had memorised thousands of ḥadīths with both matn and isnād.
3. “The eminent imām, the noble man of virtue, pivot of purity and chivalry, chief of generosity and courage, foremost amongst the knights of the rational sciences, gatherer of the highest positions in the fields of transmitted sciences, Mawlānā Shaykh Aḥmad Faqīh, imām and khaṭīb at the noble ḥaram, may his excellence remain.” He was also a man of great learning. These latter two scholars were also amongst the close associates of the Sharīf.
4. “Chief of the practising scholars, leader of the perfect men of virtue, one adept in the sciences of Arabic, surpassing his contemporaries in the literary sciences, the master of the muḥaddithīn and the imām of the mutakallimīn, Mawlānā Shaykh ‘Abd al-Jalīl Āfandī al-Ḥanafī.” He was a man of great piety and grew to an old age. He was unparalleled in the field of Arabic literature. He died at the start of the year 1327 H (1909 CE). Although originally a scholar of Madīnah, he remained in Makkah for several years. He was present at Makkah when Aḥmad Riḍā Khān made his visit. The latter took his treatise to him to get his signed approval, but “being a man of experience, intelligence and perceptiveness, and a person of great age, he immediately recognised that he is not someone to be trusted.” (al-Shihāb al-Thāqib, p. 209) [Note: Mawlānā Madanī also narrated ḥadīth from him. See: Cherāgh e Muḥammad, p. 106]
Mawlānā Madanī comments: “These four individuals were at this time, from the greatest and most famous of the ‘Ulamā’ of Makkah. Their condition in knowledge, virtue and excellence was most certainly not found in those whose seals and approvals ‘Mujaddid al-Taḍlīl’s’ hands had touched. Whoever wishes may discover their conditions from the people of Makkah themselves.” (ibid.) There were other senior scholars who refused to sign the fatwā also, but these four famous ‘Ulamā’ are sufficient for our purposes. There were more junior ‘Ulamā’ who either in search of fame or due to their simplicity became prey to Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s trickery, and gave their signed approvals to his fatwā. Many of these ‘Ulamā’ are such that they “have no part in academic ability, and nor are they involved in studying and teaching, and are not even counted amongst the ‘Ulamā’ of Makkah!” (ibid.) 
With regards to the situation in Madīnah, Mawlānā Madanī mentions that he is more acquainted with this as he was himself present in Madīnah at the time, and had been for several years. A few days after his arrival, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān very secretively visited several individuals with his treatise, asking for their signed approvals. Some of the ‘Ulamā’ there already had a good opinion of him from what was presented to them by his associates, regarding some discussions he made on some unfamiliar, peripheral issues that they had not previously examined – like the issue of paper money. These associates boasted of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s skills in debate and his having authored hundreds of works. But despite all this, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān made attempts to acquire their seals in secrecy. Mawlānā Madanī argues that he did this for fear that had it been done openly, Mawlānā Madanī would have interfered and exposed his lies. 
Unlike the condition in Makkah, ‘Ulamā’ of Madīnah did not hold a negative view of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān: some had positive views of him and others were neutral. Even still, some of the most famous and eminent scholars of Madīnah did not fall for his deceptions, and refused to sign his fatwā. Others who did sign, later became aware of his lies, while others clearly put conditions to their endorsements, stating that only if the information in the question is correct will the ruling be as he mentioned.
Mawlānā Sayyid Aḥmad Barzanjī, the mufti of the Shāfi‘īs, initially felt that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān was reliable and a person of learning. Based on this good opinion, he signed his treatise, and even encouraged others to do so. However, when he had his final meeting with him in the house of Sayyid ‘Abdullāh Madanī, and they discussed the issue of ‘ilm al-ghayb, he realised the academic and ideological reality of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān, and began to regret his previous actions. At this time, he took back his commendation and demanded his seal be erased, and told them that he has come to realise that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān is a person of misguidance, and spoke very harshly to him.
Muftī Aḥmad Barzanjī himself told Mawlānā Madanī afterwards that on the following day, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s son came to him, kissed his feet and hands, and begged him to keep the seal on the commendation, saying: “Do not take back the endorsement because we have no disagreement on these issues, and while we disagree on the issue of ‘ilm al-ghayb, let that remain as it is.” He also showed extreme flattery and servility in speech and actions. Muftī Aḥmad Barzanjī used some harsh words, but feeling embarrassed at his pleading, said it will be fine to keep the seal. However, he also pointed out that the seal is of no benefit to them, because he made his endorsement conditional.
A number of other ‘Ulamā’ from the ḥaramayn made their endorsements conditional. (Mawlānā Madanī quotes some of these on page 215-6).  Mawlānā Madanī notes that even those ‘Ulamā’ who did not put conditions, it is obvious that their endorsements were premised on the information in the treatise being correct.
Sayyid Aḥmad Barzanjī, soon after the last meeting with Aḥmad Riḍā Khān, began to pen a detailed refutation of the latter’s views on the knowledge of ghayb given to the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). Mawlānā Madanī said this treatise is in the process of being published. (It was eventually published as Ghāyat al-Ma’mūl). In this treatise, Sayyid Barzanjī, and by extension those who approved of it, used harsh words against Aḥmad Riḍā Khān. The positive words that were said of him by some of the scholars, either out of good character or because of not being fully aware of his true character, must be weighed against the negative words used by Sayyid Barzanjī.
Aḥmad Riḍā Khān rushed back to India soon after this debacle. Some of the great ‘Ulamā’ of Madīnah refused to sign his treatise. Mawlānā Madanī lists a total of 25 such scholars as examples (p. 212-3). Five of these are as follows:
1. Shaykh Yāsīn al-Miṣrī al-Shāfi‘ī, who would lecture on taṣawwuf and Shāfi‘ī fiqh in the morning at Bāb al-Raḥmah.
2. The muḥaddith and mufassir, Shaykh ‘Abdullāh al-Nābulsī al-Ḥanbalī [1247 – 1331 H], who taught ḥadīth, tafsīr and Ḥanbalī fiqh after ‘Aṣr and Maghrib, and was a person of great age, piety and knowledge. He was also regarded as a great teacher.
3. Shaykh ‘Abd al-Ḥakīm al-Bukhārī, a learned and elderly scholar.
4. Sayyid Amīn Riḍwān al-Shāfi‘ī a very elderly and pious man. From those who gave ijāza for Dalā’il al-Khayrāt at this time, none were greater than him.
5. Shaykh Ma’mūn Barrī al-Āfandi, who was the main khaṭīb of Masjid Nabawī.
 See the testimony of Shaykh Bashīr al-Ibrāhīmī below which also mentions that many of the scholars delivering lessons at the ḥaram were weak in knowledge. (Although his testimony is regarding the ḥaram of Madīnah, not Makkah, the situation was probably similar in both places).
 Mawlānā Madanī explains his role in the matter in more detail in Naqsh e Ḥayāt as follows: “These proceedings were undertaken with great effort and secrecy. I was only aware that he was making efforts to come to these ‘Ulamā’, Muftīs and people of influence, but I had absolutely no knowledge that he had some [specific] agenda behind these undertakings. I only thought that since Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Ṣāḥib had just visited, and great scholars and many students met with him here, and acquired sanad of ḥadīth and ijāzah, having gained acceptance amongst the people of learning, haters and enemies would like to spread propaganda against him, and in so doing against us [also]. But together with his, I also thought that if anything would be said against us or our Akābir, at the minimum, we would be asked about it. Several days passed in this manner. Then, after investigating I came to know he is getting endorsements for some write-up, so I searched for what this write-up was. In the end, when this write-up reached Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qādir al-Shalabī al-Ṭarāblusī*, he called me and showed me the treatise. I informed him of the reality of the matter. Then I went to Amīn al-Fatwā Shaykh ‘Umar Ḥammād, and showed him the passages of Taḥdhīr al-Nās, Fatāwā Rashīdiyyah etc., upon which he expressed great remorse [for having signed the fatwā]. Then I went to the muftī of the Ḥanafīs, Tāj al-Dīn Ilyās, and explained the full reality to him, and he too expressed great remorse, and said: ‘We had no knowledge of the reality, so why did you not inform us earlier?’ Since I had deep connections with them before – Muftī Ṣāḥib’s grandson would read to me and youngsters of high families from the people of Madīnah were either close to me or read to me** – this is why I said: ‘I trusted that if any information reached you regarding me or any of my teachers, you would most certainly have asked me.’ He replied: ‘I had no knowledge that those individuals were your teachers! Anyhow, what has happened has happened. We were very careful in endorsing, and said that if in reality these individuals hold these views and beliefs and their retraction has not been proven, then the view of the author of the treatise is correct. If I had knowledge of this before, I wouldn’t have even given this endorsement.’ Other individuals gave similar answers.” (Naqsh e Ḥayāt, 137-8) Before the ‘Ulamā’ of Madīnah could take any action after having learnt of the reality, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān hurried back to India.
 Mawlānā Madanī writes: “Those scholars of dīn with regards to whom he acquired fatwās of kufr from the two ḥarams, he put false allegations against them, of which they are completely innocent and pure. Such beliefs and ideas were attributed to them which those sanctified scholars of Hindustan are completely free of, and which they themselves regard as kufr. The scholars of the two noble ḥarams gave their answer in accordance to the question, and gave the judgement of kufr on those who maintain such beliefs, because everyone knows that the answer is written in accordance with the question. If this question was written, putting this allegation and slander on someone else, and presented before those sanctified scholars, they too would give a judgement of kufr. Thus, several questions came in the service of Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Gangohī, [asking]: ‘What is the ruling on the person who regards Satan as more knowledgeable than the Messenger of Allāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) or God as being untruthful?’ He issued a fatwā of kufr on these [beliefs]. We will later present the quotations from his Fatāwā. This is why some intelligent and careful scholars of the two noble ḥarams wrote that if the questioner’s description is accurate and these individuals really do hold these beliefs, [only then] are they kāfirs and people of jahannam. Thus by way of example, the statements of a few scholars, from their fatwās, will be quoted. One scholar said: ‘One who adopts these views, believing in them as clarified in this treatise, there is no doubt that he is from the misguided.’ (من قال بهذه الأقوال معتقدا لها كما هي مبسوط في هذه الرسالة لا شبهة أنه من الضالين)…A second scholar wrote: ‘They are – when the outcome is what you have mentioned – deviant disbelievers.’ (فهم والحاصل ما ذكرت كفرة مارقون)…A third scholar said: ‘One who asserts this has disbelieved.’ (من ادعى ذلك فقد كفر)…A fourth scholar was extremely careful, and wrote with great clarity that if these matters are proven from those individuals, that is those things that the Barelwī Shaykh has written, of Ghulām Aḥmad claiming prophethood, and it is proven from Mawlānā Rashīd Aḥmad Ṣāḥib, Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Ṣāḥib and Mawlānā Ashraf ‘Alī that they disrespected the Messenger of Allāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace), then there is no doubt in these individuals having committing kufr and deserving execution. (إن ثبت عنهم ما ذكره هذا الشيخ من ادعاء النبوة للقادياني وانتقاص النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم من رشيد أحمد وخليل أحمد وأشرف علي المذكورين فلا شك في كفرهم ووجوب قتلهم)…In a fifth place, in a lengthy write-up, there are these words: ‘This is the ruling on these groups and individuals if these vile beliefs are established from them.’ (هذا حكم هؤلاء الفرق والأشخاص إن ثبت عنهم هذه المقالات الشنيعة)…Even those individuals in whose statement this condition is not found, their intent is also this, because the ruling is on the one who believes in these things.” (al-Shihāb al-Thāqib, p. 215-6)
* On Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qādir al-Ṭarāblusī’s views on Aḥmad Riḍā Khān, see: zakariyya.wordpress.com/2007/04/02/molwi-ahmed-radha-khan-among-the-arab-ulama/
** Mawlānā Ḥusayn Aḥmad Madanī’s teaching and lectures in al-Masjid al-Nabawī in Madīnah were well-received by the people. He was also a highly-regarded scholar. The reason for his acceptance may be gleaned from the following testimony of Shaykh Bashīr al-Ibrāhīmī, a contemporary and student of Mawlānā Ḥusayn Aḥmad Madanī. Shaykh Bashīr al-Ibrāhīmī (1889 – 1965 CE) was a well-known scholar from North Africa of the last century who had travelled to Cairo, Damascus and Ḥijāz, and sat with many of their scholars. He arrived in Madīnah towards the end of the year 1911 CE. Near the end of his life, when writing a short autobiography, he wrote the following while describing his stay at Madīnah: “I circled the circles of ‘Ilm at the Prophetic Ḥaram, testing [them out]. None of them stood out to me, but it was [like] froth put out by a group having no connection with ‘Ilm or Taḥqīq. I did not find true ‘Ilm except with two men, who are my teachers: Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azīz al-Wazīr al-Tūnisī and Shaykh Ḥusayn Aḥmad al-Fayḍ Abādī al-Hindī. These two, truth be told, are erudite scholars, their horizons of perception vast in the sciences of ḥadīth and understanding of Sunnah. I had no interest in anything besides extra knowledge of ḥadīth, both in transmission and understanding, and knowledge of tafsīr, so I stuck by them as a shadow. I took al-Muwaṭṭa’ from the first with understanding, and then his erudition in the remaining Islamic sciences struck me, so I remained in his lessons on Mālik’s fiqh and his lessons on al-Tawḍīḥ of Ibn Hishām. I accompanied the second [i.e. Mawlānā Ḥusayn Aḥmad Madanī] in his lessons on Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim. I give testimony that I have not seen an equal to these two shaykhs from the ‘Ulamā’ of Islām till now. I have reached old age and I have great experience, and I have consummate skill in some sciences, and I have met from the mashāyikh as [many as] Allāh wanted me to meet. But I have not seen the like of these two shaykhs in eloquence of expression, depth of insight, delving into meanings, illuminating ideas, clarification of ambiguities and bringing distant meanings closer. Because of my expansive reading of books of biographies, I had formed an image of a prominent scholar in the Islāmic sciences, derived from how the biographical literature would describe some of those that they put in their biographies. For a long time, I did not believe that that mental image would materialise in external reality. But I found it realised in these two eminent scholars. Shaykh al-Wazīr died in Madīnah at the wake of the First World War. As for Shaykh Ḥusayn Aḥmad, Sharīf Ḥusayn ibn ‘Alī handed him over to the English at the end of his ill-fated revolution, and they exiled him to Mālṭah, and then they sent him back to his original hometown of India. He lived there for years, and the leadership of ‘Ilm culminated at him in the City of Knowledge, Deoband. When I visited Pakistan in the year 1952 CE, I wrote to him and he insisted that I visit India, but that was not destined for me. In these latter times, it has reached me that he passed away in India.” (Āthār al-Imām Muḥammad al-Bashīr al-Ibrāhīmī, 5:275-6)