Do you say that the knowledge of the Prophet (upon him be peace) is limited only to the laws of the Shari‘ah or was he given knowledge pertaining to the Essence, Attributes and Acts of the Maker (Exalted is His Name), the hidden secrets (al-asrar al-khafiyyah), the divine judgement (al-hukm al-ilahiyyah) and other than of that of which none from creation, whoever he may be, reached the pavilions of his knowledge?
We say with the tongue and we believe in the heart that our master, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace), is the most knowledgeable of all creation, with sciences pertaining to the Essence and Attributes [of Allah], legislations (tashri‘at), of the practical rules and the theoretical rules, the true realties and the hidden secrets, and other sciences, that none from creation reached the pavilions of his courtyard, neither an angel brought nigh nor a messenger sent.
Indeed he was given the knowledge of the first and the last and Allah’s grace upon him was immense (Qur’an 4:113). However, this does not entail knowledge of every particular from the temporal matters in every moment from the moments of time, such that the concealment of part of it from his noble vision and his exalted knowledge harms his (upon him be peace) being the most learned of all creation, and [harms] the extensiveness of his knowledge and the excellence of his cognizance, even if one other than him from creatures and servants becomes cognizant of it. Sulayman (upon him be peace) being the most learned [in his time] was not harmed by the concealment [from him] of what Hudhud had comprehended of strange incidents, as it says in the Qur’an, “He said: I comprehend that which you do not comprehend and I have brought to you a sure information from Sheba” (Qur’an 27:22).
Do you believe that Iblis, the accursed, is more knowledgeable than the Chief Existent (upon him be peace) and has more expansive knowledge than him in absolute terms? Have you written this in a book? And how do you judge one who believes this?
A review of this issue preceded from us, that the Prophet (upon him be peace) is the most knowledgeable of creation in general, of the sciences, the judgement, the secrets and other than that from the Kingdom of the Horizons, and we believe with certainty that one who says that so-and-so person is more knowledgeable than the Prophet (upon him be peace) has disbelieved. Our elders have given the verdict of disbelief for one who says that Iblis, the accursed, is more knowledgeable than the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace), so how is it possible that this matter is in a certain book we authored?
However, the concealment of some insignificant particular things from the Prophet (upon him be peace) due to his inattention to it does not cause any defect in his (upon him be peace) being the most learned once it is established that he is the most knowledgeable of creation of the noble sciences that are fitting to his lofty station, just as cognizance of most of those insignificant things due to the intensity of Iblis’s attention to them does not cause glory and perfection of knowledge in him, since this is not the criterion of virtue. Hereof, it is not correct to say that Iblis is more knowledgeable than the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) just as it is not correct to say about a child who knows some particulars that he is more knowledgeable than an erudite research scholar in the sciences from whom those particulars are hidden. We have recited unto you the story of Hudhud with Sulayman (upon our Prophet and upon him be peace) and his statement, “I comprehend that which you do not comprehend.” The records of hadith and the books of tafsir are replete with abundant examples of this which are well-known amongst people.
The physicians are agreed that Plato and Galen and their likes are from the most knowledgeable of physicians about the qualities of diseases and their states, despite their knowledge that maggots are more knowledgeable about states of filth, their taste and their qualities. Hence, the absence of Plato’s and Galen’s knowledge of these despicable states does not harm their being the most learned, and none from the intelligent and the stupid will be satisfied with the view that maggots are more knowledgeable than Plato, although they have more extensive knowledge than Plato about the states of filth. The innovators of our lands affirm for the blessed prophetic soul (upon it a million greetings and peace) all the sciences of the base lowly things and the lofty virtuous things, saying that since he (upon him be peace) was the best of all creation, it is necessary that he possesses all of those sciences, every particular and every universal. We rejected the establishment of this matter using this corrupt analogy without a proof-text from the relied upon texts. Do you not see that every believer is more virtuous and more honourable than Iblis so following this logic it would be necessary that every person from the individuals of this ummah possesses the sciences of Iblis, and it would be necessary that Sulayman (upon our Prophet and upon him be peace) knew that which Hudhud knew, and that Plato and Galen knew all the knowledge of maggots? These concomitants are absurd in their entirety as is obvious.
This is a summary of what we said in al-Barahin al-Qati‘ah in order to sever the veins of the foolish deviants and break the necks of the forging deceivers. Hence, our discussion about it was only in regards to some of these temporal particulars, and for this reason we used the demonstrative noun to indicate that the objective in affirmation and negation there was those particulars, and nothing besides [them]. However, the iniquitous distort the speech and do not fear the reckoning of the Knowing King. We are certain that those who say that so-and-so individual is more knowledgeable than the Prophet (upon him be peace) is a disbeliever, as more than one of our respected ‘ulama stated. And whoever concocts about us that which we did not say, upon him is [the burden of] proof, [and he should] fear the interrogation before the Recompensing King. Allah is witness over what we say.
Al-Muhannad ‘ala l-Mufannad ya‘ni ‘Aqa’id ‘Ulama Ahl al-Sunnah Deoband, pp. 55-60