Definition of Shirk by Shah Wali Allah

September 23, 2011

Courtesy from SF:

Imam Shah Wali Allah al-Dihlawi (1114-1176 H/1703-1762 AD) in his Hujjat Allah al-Balighah (vol. 1 pp. 117-22) includes a section in which he elaborates on the definition of worship and shirk. He starts by explaining that shirk in worship (‘ibadah) can only really be ascertained by the intention of the performer of an action, not by the action itself, but then explains that the Shari‘ah has stipulated some actions to be the likely places (mazinnat) of shirk as they are customarily associated with shirk, and therefore take the ruling of shirk – as it is the norm in the Shari‘ah that actions that are the likely places of an original principle take the ruling of that original principle. Amongst the deeds Shah Wali Allah includes in the actions that the Shari‘ah has deemed the likely places of shirk and thus prohibited as it is customarily inseparable from it is seeking help from other than Allah. He also affirms – contrary to the assertion of many outspoken “traditionalists” today – that shirk is an illness that has afflicted some of the extremist Muslims of today.

The following is a summarised translation of what he wrote:


[In the previous section which discusses tawhid (pp. 115-6), Shah Wali Allah wrote that one of the levels of tawhid is that worship belongs exclusively to Allah, and this is connected with another level of tawhid – the belief in the oneness of Allah in the administration (tadbir) of creation].

Worship, which is solely for Allah, is defined as the utmost act of humbleness (al-tadhallul al-aqsa).

From this arises a question: How do you distinguish reverence (ta‘zim) which is worship i.e. the “utmost act of humbleness” from other types of reverence e.g. a student’s reverence of a teacher or subjects of their ruler? There are two possible ways this distinction (tamyiz) can be made:

1. The physical form (surah) of the act of reverence. For example, worship (i.e. the utmost act of humbleness) is by prostration while an act of reverence not at the level of worship is, for example, by standing.
2. The intention (niyyah). So with the same act, one may intend “worship” or may intend an act of respect lower than worship.

Since prostration is the highest physical form of reverence (a‘la suwar al-ta‘zim) and this has been established for the angels before Adam and Yusuf’s brothers before Yusuf by way of greeting, this conclusively proves the physical form of the act is not the distinguishing factor between a reverence that is worship and one that is not worship. Therefore, this leaves the intention as the factor distinguishing worship from non-worship.

Humbleness (of any kind, worship or not) requires weakness in the humble one and strength in the other (i.e. the one to whom one is being humble), lowness in the humble one and highness in the other, submission of the humble one and control and authority from the other. Such strength, highness, control and authority can be at two levels: at a human or created level and at the level of One who is free of contingency and possibility. Examples of these two levels of qualities of perfection are as follows:

– Knowledge of unseen things is at two levels:
o It can be by a vision, or following through with premises to a conclusion, or intuition, or a dream, or inspiration.
o Or such knowledge can be intrinsic (dhati) as a necessary factor in the Knower, not receiving it from anything.

– Similarly, controlling (taskhir) and managing (tadbir) is at two levels:
o By direct contact, using the physical organs and strength, and making use of bodily faculties
o Or by the property of existentialisation (takwin) without physical contact or strength and preparation. As Allah says: “His command when He intends something is to say: Be, and it is.” (36:82)

– Similarly, greatness is at two levels:
o The first is like the greatness of a king before his subjects which is a result of many helpers and great power or like the greatness of a hero or the greatness of a teacher in relation to a student, i.e. the greatness of those things in which one finds himself sharing in his origin and basis.
o That which is only found in the absolutely transcendent Being

Thus, such qualities of perfection are set at two levels: one for those who are comparable to one’s self and one for the Almighty. However, since the words used for both levels are similar (e.g. control and greatness), the words of the Shari‘ah may be misunderstood and misapplied. Thus, what may happen is someone may consider something emanating from a human being or angel as farfetched of a being of the same category as oneself (i.e. a creation and slave of Allah), and so the matter becomes unclear to him, so he attributes transcendent highness and divine control to him.

Making comparisons of Allah (tashbih) and associating Him (ishrak) with stars (which were believed to determined future events) and the pious servants who performed miracles was something inherited amongst the ancient peoples, so prophets were sent to teach the people the reality of shirk and distinguish the two levels (of the perfections of the Creator and created), and keep the Transcendent Level (al-darajat al-muqaddasa) for the Necessary Being (Allah) even though the words used to describe the two levels (like “highness” and “control” and “knowledge”) are the same. E.g. the Messenger sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam said to a doctor: “You are only a companion, and the doctor is Allah [alone],” and he said “The master (sayyid) is only Allah,” indicating by these some of the meanings of “doctor” and “sayyid” and not other meanings which are applicable to creation. Then when his close companions passed away a group arose understanding the words used outside their contexts, e.g. understanding “being the beloved” (mahbubiyya) and “intercession” established in the scriptures for elite men in a wrong way, in a divine way, though they are of a human nature.

Those afflicted by this disease of shirk are of types:
1. Those who completely forget the majesty of Allah, so they worship only the false partners (shuraka) and raise their needs to them alone, and they do not turn to Allah, although they know by reason and deduction that Allah is the Necessary Being.

2. Those who believe Allah is the Master and Administrator, but He gives to some of His servants the garment of highness and majesty and makes them free to dispose in some particular affairs and accepts their intercession just like the supreme king who has supporting kings working under him. So their tongues are hesitant to call them “slaves of Allah” so as to make them equal to others, rather they call them “the beloveds of Allah” and “His children” and call themselves their slaves e.g. ‘Abd al-Masih and ‘Abd al-‘Uzza. This is the illness of the majority of the Jews and Christians, and the idolaters, and some of the extremists of the hypocrites of the religion of Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) in today’s time (wa ba‘d al-ghulati min munafiqi dini Muhammad sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam fi yawmina hadha).

Since the principle method of legislating in the Shari‘ah was to make the likely places (mazinna) a substitute for the original principle, it considers certain tangible things which are the likely places/actions of shirk to be kufr, like prostrating to idols, and sacrificing for them and taking oath by their name etc.

The reality of shirk is: “To believe about some great people that the wonderful feats emanating from them only emanated because he has imbued a quality of perfection which is not recognised in the category of humanity, rather is exclusive to the Necessary Being and is not found in other than Him, but [it is believed] He adorned others with the qualities of divinity or others have become annihilated (yafni) in His Essence and remain therein or the like of this.” This was narrated of the idolaters who would say in the Hajj season: “We are here O Allah, we are here. You have no partner, except a partner You have, You possess him and what he possesses.” Thus, they submitted to this partner with the utmost humility (i.e. worship) and behaved with him in the manner servants behave with Allah.

Such a belief has physical manifestations, and the Shari‘ah only investigates these physical manifestations which people perform with the intention of shirk until it became a likely place (mazinna) of shirk and inseparable (lazima) from it in the custom of people, just as is the norm of the Shari‘ah to make causes that necessitate benefits or harms in the place of those benefits or harms.

Examples of these actions which the Shari‘ah has made the “likely places of shirk” and thus forbidden are the following:

1. Prostration to other than Allah. Allah says: “Prostrate not to the sun, nor the moon, and prostrate to Allah [alone] Who created them.” (41:37)

It is not as some mutakallimin thought that tawhid al-ibadah (singling out Allah alone in the act of worship) is a ruling from Allah that changed with religions. Rather, oneness of worship is a direct consequence in the belief that Allah alone is the Creator and the Administrator.

The stupidity of the idolaters was to admit that Allah is the Creator and Administrator, and recognise that a consequence of this was that He alone is deserving of worship, yet they directed their worship at other “partners.”

2. Seeking help [in a matter that is not established by the natural means (asbab) or established in the Shari‘ah] from other than Allah in needs like curing the sick or enriching the poor; and taking vows by them; and reciting their names hoping for their blessing. Allah thus made it obligatory to say in Salah: “You ALONE we worship and You ALONE we ASK FOR HELP.” (1:5) And He said: “Do not call any besides Allah.” (72:18). The meaning of “call” here is “seek help,” so the verse means “Do not seek help from any besides Allah.”

3. Calling creatures sons and daughters of Allah

4. Taking scholars as lords besides Allah in the sense that their rulings are taken as having full legislative force and not simply an unveiling of the ruling of Allah. Tahlil (making lawful) and tahrim (making unlawful) are exclusive attributes of Allah, and its attribution to the Prophet is in the sense that his speech is an absolute indication to Allah’s tahlil/tahrim, and its attribution to the mujtahids is in the sense that they transmit and unveil them.

5. Sacrificing to other than Allah

6. Superstitiously devoting certain animals to other than Allah

7. Believing the names of other than Allah are blessed and glorified and taking oath with them believing it to have effect

8. Performing pilgrimage for other than Allah. The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: “Don’t take stringent journey except to the three mosques.”

9. Naming someone the “servant” (‘abd) of other than Allah

These are the physical manifestations of shirk which the Lawgiver has forbidden because they are its physical manifestations.

Original book can be found here:

Definition of shirk by Shah Abdul Qadir

September 22, 2011

A quote of Shah Abdul Qadir, the son of Shah Waliyullah, in mawdih al-qur’an under verse 2:221 refuting the shirki concept of hadir nazir and mukhayyir al-kull:

شرک يه هے كە اللّه كى صفت كسى اور ميں جانے مثلا كسى كو سمجهے كه اس كو هر بئت معلوم هے يا وه جو چاهے كر سكتا هے يا همارا بھلا يا برا كرنا اس كے اس كے اختيار ميں هے اور كسى كو سجده كرے اور اس سے حاجت طلب كرے اس كو مختار جان كر

Shirk is to ascribe any attribute of Allah to someone else, like for example one believes that one knows everything, or believes he can do whatever he wants, or can benefit or harm us, or one prostrates before anyone and asks him to fulfil his needs believing he has the choice to do so.

The Mujaddid of Takfir: Ahmad Raza Khan

September 19, 2011

In this post, I will describe how Ahmad Raza Khan was a Kharijite by making mass takfir of the Muslims all over the world. Not the Salafis, but the innovator Ahmad Raza Khan deserves the title of the Revivor of Takfir. His principle of chain takfir “one who does not call the Deobandis unbelievers, is himself an unbeliever” was broadly used in his works and was also accepted by his Khulafa’ and later day followers.

This article is divided into several paragraphs:

1. Ahmad Raza Khan and his takfir of Deobandis: anyone who has read the texts of the Deobandis, and still deem them as Muslims, is an apostate. Anyone who has not read them, but considers the Deobandis as Muslims, is at least a deviant. Their wives are haram for them, and their children are bastards. I will quote Fatawa Ridhwiyya and Ahkame Shari’at written by Ahmad Raza.

2. Deobandi scholars who are aware of the statements of their elders, are apostates. There are several Fatawa showing that Deobandi graduates who are aware what is written in Hifz al-Iman, Barahin Qati’a, Tahzir al-Nas are apostates. There is a fatwa of Sardar Ahmad, a well-known accepted Barelwi scholar who has stated such.

3. Several Fatawa from Barelwi scholars showing that mainstream Deobandis are apostates.

4. Conclusion: the Deobandi-Barelwi conflict has been imported to the west, with several statements of the Deobandi elders being translated and widely read.  However, still the so-called neutral scholars such as Hamza Yusuf, Abdul Hakim Murad, Nazim Haqqani, Haba’ib, Muhammad Yaqoubi, Abd al-Hadi Kharsa that even the Barelwis endorse, have not done takfir of the Deobandis, which automatically means they have also turned into apostates. Munawwar in his critique of Sh. Nuh Keller has accepted his translation of the Deobandie elders, but still has no guts to call Sh. Nuh an apostate. Please be honest and tell the world your opinion about these scholars in the light of the Barelwi elders. They have read the statements, yet do not agree with the takfir.

Sayyid Ahmad Shahid and the Students of Shah Abd al-Aziz

September 19, 2011

Courtesy of SF. The article below illustrates that Sayyid Ahmad Shahid was a well-accepted scholar amongst the elite scholars in India. He was widely accepted by scholars who were famous in the circle of Shah Abd al-Aziz, the son of Shah Waliyullah:

Sayyid Ahmad ibn ‘Irfan Shahid al-Berelwi (1201/1786 – 1246/1831) enjoyed wide popularity and acceptance during his brief role as Sufi master and preacher. One of the greatest indications of this is that many of the direct students of Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz (1159/1746 – 1239/1824) who had become recognised scholars in their own rights pledged allegiance to him and became his disciples. Sayyid Ahmad Shahid was himself a spiritual successor (khalifah) of Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz. The early hagiographical biographies of Sayyid Ahmad Shahid like Makhzan Ahmadi [authored by Shaykh Muhammad ‘Ali ibn ‘Abd al-Subhan al-Tuki (1195/1781-1266/1850), a nephew and disciple of Sayyid Ahmad, several years his senior] and Waqa‘i Ahmad [by Muhammad ‘Ali al-Sadrpuri (d. 1287)] mention that Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz conferred to him the status of wilaya (sainthood). These sources mention that although Sayyid Ahmad Shahid disagreed with Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz on the point of shughl barzakh, Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz said this was a blessing of his “prophetic” wilaya as opposed to “saintly” wilaya. Sayyid Ahmad Shahid’s Sirat i Mustaqim was completed several years before the death of Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz and there are no reports that he expressed disapproval of its contents.

The following is a list of some scholars who were direct students of Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz that became disciples of Sayyid Ahmad Shahid which I found while scanning through the biographies of Indian ‘ulama from the 13th century Hijri from Nuzhat al-Khawatir by ‘Allamah ‘Abd al-Hayy ibn Fakhr al-Din al-Hasani (1286/1869 – 1341/1923). Many of those mentioned took the spiritual path from him during the lifetime of Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz himself.

1. Shah Muhammad Isma‘il ibn ‘Abd al-Ghani al-Dihlawi (1193/1779 – 1246/1831). He was brought up in the household of his uncle Shah ‘Abd al-Qadir and studied with him and his two elder brothers, Shah Rafi‘ al-Din and Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz. He was the most renown disciple and successor of Sayyid Ahmad Shahid who was several years his junior.

2. Mufti Ilahi Baksh ibn Shaykh al-Islam ibn Qutb al-Din al-Siddiqi al-Hanafi al-Kandehlewi (1162/1750 – 1245/1829). He studied under Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz for a long period and became his disciple. His mastery in Hanafi fiqh led him to become the mufti of Bhopal. He took the Qadiri tariqa from his brother Hajj Kamal al-Din. “Then he took the Naqshbandi tariqa from Shaykh Imam Ahmad ibn ‘Irfan al-Shahid al-Berelwi and he compiled al-Mulhimat al-Ahmadiyya regarding the practices and litanies of the tariqa and he filled it with praises of Sayyid Imam (Allah have mercy on him).” (Nuzhat al-Khawatir p. 921) Mufti Ilahi Bakhsh was nearly forty years senior to Sayyid Ahmad, and was one of the foremost students of Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz (Nuzhat al-Khawatir p. 1014). His pledge at the hand of Sayyid Ahmad is therefore a great testament to the latter’s profound spiritual station and his acceptance amongst the scholarly elite. One of Mufti Ilahi Baksh’s students mentioned in Nuzhat al-Khawatir, Mughith al-Din al-Saharanpuri, also became a disciple of Sayid Shahid and even participated in the jihad with him.

3. Sayyid Awlad Hasan ibn Awlad ‘Ali al-Qinnawaji (1210/1796-1253/1837). He was the father of Siddiq Hasan Qinnawaji. He studied under Shah Rafi‘ al-Din and Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz for some time, and he was a khalifa and close disciple of Sayyid Ahmad Shahid. (Nuzhat al-Khawatir, p. 931)

4. Mawlana Haydar ‘Ali ibn ‘Inayat ‘Ali al-Dihlawi al-Tuki (1203/1788 – 1273/1856). He studied under Shah Rafi al-Din and Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, and he opposed in writing Fadl Haq al-Khayrabadi’s views against Shah Ismai’il. ‘Allamah ‘Abd al-Hayy said of Haydar ‘Ali: “He was extremely intelligent, very perceptive, a master in the knowledge of the Book and Sunnah and disagreements, and a treasure-filled ocean in philosophical sciences.” (Nuzhat al-Khawatir p. 960) He was a respected teacher of the Islamic sciences, and taught the well-known Mufti ‘Inayat Ahmad al-Kakarawi author of ‘Ilm al-Sighah. (Nuzhat al-Khawatir p. 1048)

5. Shaykh Khurram ‘Ali al-Balhuri (d. 1271/1855). He studied the traditional books under the sons of Shah Wali Allah, and then became a disciple of Sayyid Ahmad. He translated sections of al-Durr al-Mukhtar on Hanafi fiqh, called Ghayat al-Awtar, which was then completed by other ‘ulama after his death. He translated Mashariq al-Anwar by al-Saghani and he translated al-Qawl al-Jamil of Shah Wali Allah and called it Shifa al-‘Alil. He has a popular work called Nasihat al-Muslimin similar to Shah Isma‘il’s Taqwiyat al-Iman (Nuzhat al-Khawatir, p. 963)

6. ‘Allamah ‘Abd al-Hayy ibn Hibat Allah ibn Nur Allah al-Burhanawi (d. 1243). He studied with Shah ‘Abd al-Qadir and Shah ‘Abd al-Aziz, and he was a relative of the latter. “He was extremely intelligent, with a strong memory, very involved in research and reading.” (Nuzhat al-Khawatir, p. 1005). He became a disciple of Sayyid Ahmad Shahid in the lifetime of Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz. He co-authored al-Sirat al-Mustaqim with Shah Isma‘il and then translated it to Arabic. Qadi Shawkani of Yemen sent to him a written general ijaza. Muhsin ibn Yahya al-Turhati wrote in al-Yani’ al-Jani fi Asanid al-Shaykh ‘Abd al-Ghani (completed in Rajab 1280/1863): “He was the best of them [i.e. the students of Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz] in fiqh and the most experienced of them in the traditional books….” (p. 1005) Shah Muhammad Ishaq al-Dihlawi (1197/1783 – 1262/1846), the grandson and successor of Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, read Sarf and Nahw up to al-Kafiya under Shaykh ‘Abd al-Hayy and studied fiqh with him, before specialising in hadith under Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz (Nuzhat al-Khawatir, p. 911). Although his year of birth is not mentioned, as he was a teacher of Shah Muhammad Ishaq, he must have been at least a decade or two older than Sayyid Ahmad Berelwi. ‘Allamah Wajih al-Din al-Saharanpuri was a student of ‘Allamah ‘Abd al-Hayy and took isnad from him; he was the hadith-teacher of the famous Mawlana Ahmad ‘Ali al-Saharanpuri, founder of the Matba‘ Ahmadi printing press; one of the latter’s chains is therefore: from Wajih al-Din al-Saharanpuri from ‘Abd al-Hayy al-Burhnawi from Shah ‘Abd al-Qadir from Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz… (Nuzhat al-Khawatir p. 907, 1132) His more famous chain is through Shah Muhammad Ishaq from Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz.

7. ‘Allamah Ghulam Jilani ibn Ahmad al-Sharif al-Rampuri (1154/1742-1234/1819). He took hadith from Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz. He became a renowned teacher and was one of the teachers of Haydar ‘Ali mentioned above. He became a disciple of Sayyid Ahmad who was over forty years his junior. He was in fact some years older than even his teacher Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz! Despite his eminence and old age he wished to accompany Sayyid Ahmad Shahid to jihad, but when Sayyid Ahmad refused because he was too elderly, he began to weep as mentioned in Wasaya al-Wazir (Nuzhat al-Khawatir, p. 1051)

8. Shaykh Mahbub ‘Ali ibn Musahib ‘Ali al-Ja‘fari al-Dihlawi (1200/1785-1280/1864). He gained direct ijaza from Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz. He was a disciple of Sayyid Ahmad Shahid and he even travelled to the Frontiers to fight, but due to unknown reasons had to turn back. (Nuzhat al-Khawatir, p. 1078) He was one year older than Sayyid Ahmad Shahid.

9. Shaykh Wahid al-Din ibn Mu‘in al-Din al-Puhulti al-Dihlawi. He studied under Shah Isma‘il and he accompanied Shah ‘Abd al-Aziz and Shah ‘Abd al-Qadir for thirteen years, and then he accompanied Sayyid Ahmad Shahid. He went to Hajj with him and then returned to India and then accompanied him to the Frontiers. (Nuzhat al-Khawatir, p. 1133)

Besides these scholars, there were many other associates of Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz and indirect students who took the tariqah from Sayyid Ahmad Shahid. This is sufficient reason to believe that there was no conflict between the teachings and methodology of Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz and the spiritual teaching of Sayyid Ahmad Shahid and his tariqa.

Shah Muhammad Ishaq al-Dihlawi (1197/1783 – 1262/1846), the grandson and successor of Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Dihlawi, supported Sayyid Ahmad Shahid’s jihad on the Frontiers. He dictated a work called Mi’at Masa’il in which he defended the ideological views of Sayyid Ahmad Shahid and Shah Isma‘il. In a British journal article dated November 1832 – Journal of the Asiatic Society No. 11. November 1832. “Notice of the peculiar Tenets held by the followers of Syed Ahmed, taken chiefly from the “Sirat-ul-Mustaqim,” a principle Treatise of that Sect by J.R. Colvin (of which I own a copy) – J.R. Colvin writes: “The writer [i.e. J.R. Colvin] has seen another Treatise printed in the course of last year (1831), the Miayatul Masail, or the hundred questions: being answers by Shekh Mohammed Ishak, a grandson of Shah Abdul Aziz, to queries stated to have been put to him by some of the Royal family at Delhi.”

Under the biography of Shaykh Ahmad Allah ibn Dalil Allah al-Annami, ‘Allamah ‘Abd al-Hayy al-Hasani writes: “He has a treatise called Mi’atu Masa’il fi Tahsil al-Fada’il bi al-Adillat al-Shar‘iyya wa Tark al-Umur al-Manhiyya, in which he compiled issues from the written [answers] of his shaykh, Ishaq. He compiled it in the year 1245 (1830).”

There is therefore no doubt that a work called Mi’atu Masa’il was circulating in the early 1830s under the authorship of Shah Muhammad Ishaq, long before his death. If he knew it was misattributed to him, he would have clarified that it is not his. Shah Muhammad Ishaq migrated to Mecca in the year 1258 H more than ten years after the publication of this work in India. Furthermore, Ahmad Rida Khan and Ahmad Yar Khan recognised the work to be his and claimed it is contrary to the beliefs of the “Ahl al-Sunnah”.