One needs to understand first that there are different groups amongst the Barelwis. Some of them might not know anything about some of the major beliefs of the Barelwis while some others again are very hardcore in propagating in Barelwi beliefs. The less they know, the better.
The points mentioned below can be applied to the average Barelwi who claims to follow Mawlana Ahmad Raza Khan and his representatives. However, sometimes laymen have trouble in recognizing a Barelwi due to the fact he simply does not know those unique stances of the Barelwi. The following points can help laymen into spotting a Barelwi:
1. The Barelwi describes those who follow the scholars of Deoband as “Wahhabis.” They are unbelievers. One should not pray behind Deobandi Imams. The Tablighi Jamaat is Wahhabi too and it is strictly forbidden to go out with them. They have supposedly insulted the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam).
2. They agree with the mass takfir of Mawlana Ahmad Raza Khan mentioned in Hussam al-Haramayn. Everybody who does not agree that Mawlana Ashraf Ali Thanwi, Mawlana Qasim Nanotwi, Mawlana Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri, Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi are apostates is himself an unbeliever.
3. The Barelwi keeps on talking about so-called Wahhabis every day. Not a day goes by where these “disgusting” Wahhabis are not mentioned. While they themselves proudly claim that they are true lovers of the Prophet [Ashiq Rasul] by singing naats all day. At friday prayers, khatams and even at funerals they will keep on singing.
Nur and Bashar:
4. The Barelwi keeps on saying that the Nabi is literally made of light [nur] and is hesitant in calling the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) a human being [bashar].
Eid Milad al-Nabi:
5. The Barelwi believes that one should definately take part in celebrating the birthday of the Prophet. One who does not perform Eid Miladun Nabi on 12 rabi’ al-awwal is certainly a Wahhabi. Also, walking in a march during this “eid” with a model of the Ka’ba and Masjid Nabawi is done. Participation is very praiseworthy according the Barelwi Ulama.
Kull Ilm al-Ghayb:
6. The Barelwi believes the Prophet has the full knowledge of unseen [ilm al-ghayb] to such an extent that he knows every single detail what is happening in this world. He knows in exact details what happened and what will happen. What we are thinking and what the fishes in the water do. Even the knowledge of the Hour is known by the Prophet.
7. The Barelwi believes that the Prophet is present and seeing everywhere. He sees what is happening in this entire world. He can see the whole world through one glance. He even is witness of the vile deeds committed by the people, like murder, theft, adultery, etc.
8. The Barelwi believes that loving the Nabi is enough for one’s salvation. Some of them might even believe that loving Abd al-Qadir Jilani is enough for your salvation, since he will intercede for you.
9. The Barelwi believes that Prophet can do whatever he wants. He has full power over issues such as giving life, giving sustenance, making people healthy. He divides it how he wishes. Some awliya such as Abd al-Qadir Jilani have this power too. That is why they are called upon and according to the Barelwi belief they come to rescue no matter when or where you call. They can remove your difficulties in issues such as rizq, honour, health etc. even though they have passed away, nor are they present.
Ghayrwi and Urs:
10. The Barelwi believes khatam is a necessary function at days such as the third, seventh, 10th, 40th, or after a year. The gathering of urs and ghyarwi is also a must for every true Barelwi. Anybody who disputes these issues is a Wahhabi.
11. They will keep on insisting on practices such as kissing the thumbs when hearing the name of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), permissibility of calling yourself Abd al-Nabi, recommendation of reciting salawat before and after every adhan etc. Anybody who refutes these issues, is a Wahhabi.
These are the main issues where Barelwis might have a problem with other Muslims around the globe. There are other issues, which we will highlight in our other posts when we will sum up the differences between Barelwis and other Muslims.