A Reply to Preamble to Faith

Some Berelwis are circulating an ebook called The Preamble to Faith, which contains the same falsehoods and misrepresentations discussed above. A quick discussion on some of them:

The translator says: “Saharanpuri wrote a book Al-Muhannad in which he denies (both on his own behalf and those scholars of his group) that they held such beliefs and even claimed that they never said or wrote any such thing.”

This false claim that Muhannad does not deal with the original statements or denies them altogether is still repeated even when the translations of the parts in question dealing with those quotes are available on the internet. With respect to all four statements, replies are given. The passage from Hifz al-Iman is translated in a summary-form; the passage from Barahin is summarised, as is Tahzir al-Nas; and the so-called fatwa by Mawlana Gangohi is denied and a statement from Fatawa Rashidiyya, stating exactly the opposite of what is found in that fatwa that whoever believes in the occurrence of falsehood in Allah’s speech is a disbeliever, is produced. So how can it be said after this that the Muhannad “denies (both on his own behalf and those scholars of his group) that they held such beliefs and even claimed that they never said or wrote any such thing,” – unless this is regarding the way in which Ahmad Rida misrepresented the passages to say for example: “Thanawi compared the Prophet’s knowledge to animals; Saharanpuri said satan’s knowledge was more than the Prophet’s; Nanotwi said it is possible for a prophet to be born after the Prophet” – which are all no doubt lies and misrepresentations of the passages in question. In short, the impression the above writer tries to give that Mawlana Saharanpuri skirts the issue, is clearly dishonest and deceptive, as Muhannad directly addresses the quotes/statements/books in question.

Quoting from Barahin, the ebook says: “The expanse of Satan’s knowledge is proven by documentary evidence, [but] where is such absolute documentary evidence for the knowledge of the Pride of the world?”

The sentence is taken out of context, and begins with “yeh wus‘at” (this expanse) with the demonstrative noun referring to a particular expanse in knowledge not all knowledge, or knowledge in general. And the particular expanse in knowledge that is being referred to was mentioned only a few words earlier “encompassing knowledge of the word” (‘ilm muhit zamin) i.e. knowledge of the particulars of this terrestrial realm, not knowledge in general. So it is simply a lie to say Barahin states satan’s knowledge is superior to the prophet’s; and this slander was also explained in Muhannad. For more details see this post above.

This link also addresses Ahmad Rida’s claim that al-Barahin commits shirk by affirming for satan what it states to be shirk when affirmed for the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam). The translator also says this: “Look at it whichever way you want, but Khalīl is saying that if you prove such knowledge for RasūlAllāh _, you commit shirk; but the same knowledge is possessed by Satan and it is proved by naşş.” As the post explains, this is distortion based on not taking into account the full passage. Mawlana Saharanpuri’s main premise is that affirming knowledge of the unseen for any being more than what is established by clear texts is shirk, as it is tantamount to affirming intrinsic knowledge of the unseen for such a person. Based on this, affirming such unseen knowledge for the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) without evidence equates to shirk; whereas for the angel of death and satan, since it is proven by clear text it is not shirk. This is obvious from the entire passage, but Ahmad Rida and his followers distort it. This was clarified and this distortion was exposed nearly a century ago by Mawlana Husayn Ahmad Madani in al-Shihab al-Thaqib.

Regarding the passage from Barahin the translator says: “It is in this book that Maulvi Khalīl Aĥmed Sahāranpūri says that the knowledge of Satan is proven from documentary evidence and there is no such evidence for the knowledge of RasūlAllāh _. He also wrote another book in Arabic named Al-Muhannad where he denied that he ever said such a thing” It is completely untrue that the Muhannad denies this statement (- it neither affirms it nor does it deny it), as this statement was not even up for question; rather what he denies was the claim that he said satan’s knowledge is superior to the Prophet’s in absolute terms.

The translator further says: “Khalīl Aĥmed misquotes and states the opposite of what Shaykh Abd al-Ĥaq said; such a thing is either as tadlīs or as kadhib. Because, in the first volume of Madārij the Shaykh says: “Some people pose an objection on this and say that it has been mentioned in some reports that RasūlAllāh _ said: ‘I am a slave and I do not not know what is behind this wall.’ Whereas, this statement is baseless and there is no authentic report of this kind.”” This has also been addressed in the post linked above. This claim – which was also made by Ahmad Rida – assumes Mawlana Saharanpuri took the narration from Shaykh ‘Abd al-Haq’s Madarij, whereas in fact he took it from his other book on the commentary on Mishkat in which he uses the narration in the context of proof and does not criticise it.

Regarding the ebook’s “analysis” of the passage from Hifz al-Iman, the passage from Hifz al-Iman (discussed in more detail here) says the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) is not distinguished by partial knowledge of the unseen as others also possess partial knowledge of the unseen. However, Ahmad Rida, as is clear from what he wrote and the examples he uses and from his other work Husam al-Haramayn, misconstrues this to say: these others also possess the same quantity of unseen as the Prophet, not that they merely share with him the quality of possessing partial knowledge of unseen. This distinction between what was originally meant and the distorted meaning of Ahmad Rida was clarified by Mawlana Thanawi himself in Bast al-Banan.

The translator shows either his ignorance or his disregard for truth when he says about Hifz al-Iman “If one reads the whole passage, it is clear that Thānawī rejects ‘part ilm al-ghayb’ and draws similarlity of such ‘part ilm alghayb’ of the Prophet _ with that of animals and madmen; because he trails the discussion with the invalidity of ‘kull ilm al-ghayb.’ So the parallels drawn are not accidental or an incidental outcome, but rather deliberate and intentional.” If he rejects “part ilm al-ghayb,” how can he draw a similarity of it with that of animals and madmen? Mawlana Thanawi’s discussion is straightforward if all the deceptive commentary is removed: He says: ‘Ilm al-ghayb in its technical and absolute sense means intrinsic self-knowledge of the unseen and this can only be used for Allah, as the Qur’an identifies it as His exclusive attribute. It can only be used for others if qualified with an indication (qarinah) stating that this knowledge is received and not intrinsic. With respect to received knowledge of ghayb, even this cannot be regarded as a distinguishing feature of prophethood [- note this was said by earlier mutakallimun too, using the same argument]. This is because partial received knowledge is shared by others, so there is no distinction for prophets, while complete received knowledge is unanimously denied for all creation. Therefore, since ‘ilm al-ghayb is not exclusive to prophets, it should not be made from their distinguishing features.

Regarding the so-called fatwa of Mawlana Gangohi on the validity of the view of the occurrence of lying (wuqu kadhib), as Mawlana Husayn Ahmad Madani says in al-Shihab al-Thaqib, this is not found in any of his published writings, and is unheard of amongst his students (Mawlana Madani was also one of his direct students), and his published writings say the complete opposite that the belief in the occurrence of lying is clear disbelief; while his actual belief is of possibility, that lying is in His power but will never occur, which is a valid view as for example stated clearly by Ibn al-Humam (which both al-Muhannad and al-Shihab al-Thaqib quote – as they do other books).

The book that is translated in the ebook does not analyse Tahzir al-Nas, otherwise there were clear distortions in Ahmad Rida’s representation of that book too, as shown here.

There are, therefore, several clear distortions which originate from Ahmad Rida Khan, which his Berelwi followers perpetuate rather than justify: Ahmad Rida says Barahin said satan’s knowledge was superior (or “more vast”) than the Prophet’s in an absolute sense, whereas Barahin clearly says “yeh wus’at” referring, using the demonstrative noun, to encompassing knowledge of the world, not knowledge in general; Ahmad Rida says Hifz al-Iman states the knowledge possessed by the Prophet is equivalent to the knowledge of animals and madmen (-i.e. in terms of quantity), yet Mawlana Thanawi himself said this statement is revolting (khabith) and what he actually said was that the quality of possessing partial knowledge of unseen is not exclusive to the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam), but this possession of partial knowledge is also a property of animals; with Tahzir al-Nas, Ahmad Rida mistranslatedbizzat” as aslan, and rearranged three separate sentences concocting one contiguous quote.

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