Lies, distortions, and slanders by GF Haddad

April 28, 2012

As some of you are probably aware, brother Muzammil Husayn has written a number of posts on sunniforum refuting Shaykh GF Haddad, during which clear slanders, distortions and lies have surfaced. I have gathered a few of these statements into one post as an example of the deception perpetrated by this tradionalist scholar who exercises some degree of influence online, to the extent that many brothers have fallen for his slanders against certain righteous ulama. The sample below should be enough to alert brothers to the fact that this scholar is not a reliable source of information. If anyone here has contact with the Shaykh, then he is requested to bring this sample to the Shaykh’s attention:

1. GF Haddad said: “It is also a remarkable revision of history to represent Ismā.īl Dihlawī as a reviver of jihād. In reality, he was a rebel bāghī who opposed the jihād against the British declared by the last Mughāl Sultan of India.”

The last Mughal sultan of India was Bahadur Shah who came to power in 1837 several years after the death of Shah Isma‘il. Shah Isma‘il did not oppose any jihad.

2. GF Haddad said: “[Taqwiyat al-Iman of] Ismā.īl Dihlawī was also immediately opposed by a host of Indian Sunnī Ulema beginning with his own family and the Ulema of Delhi such as his two paternal uncles Shāh .Abd al-.Azīz Muh.addith Dihlawī (d. 1239/1834) (the son of Shāh Walī Allāh and one of those considered a Renewer of the thirteenth Hijrī century) and Shāh Raf.ī al-Dīn Muh.addith Dihlawī in his Fatāwā””

Shah Rafi‘ al-Din passed away in 1233 H/1818 AD before Taqwiyat al-Iman was even written, so it is not possible he wrote a refutation. Also Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz died in 1824 not 1834.

3. GF Haddad said: “Ismā.īl Dihlawī wrote Taqwiyat al-Īmān in the wake of his H.ijāz years (1236-1239), at which time he had come under the tutelage of Wahhābī missionaries.”

In the period Shah Isma’il went to perform Hajj (“his Hijaz years”), the followers of Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab had already been expelled from the Hijaz, and it was under Ottoman rule when the followers of Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab were vilified, and they held no sway in these lands. Besides this clear historical indication that Shah Isma’il most probably had no contact with “Wahhabi missionaries,” scholars of his movement find no evidence of any relation or connection between them.

Harlan O. Pearson an academic researcher on Sayyid Ahmad Berelwi’s movement (called Tariqah Muhammadiyyah) wrote while discussing Shah Isma‘il and the Tariqah Muhammadiyyah’s pilgrimage: “The Indian Muhammadi [i.e. the movement of Sayyid Ahmad Shahid and Shah Isma’il] had no apparent connection with the Arabian Wahhabi movement. By performing the pilgrimage, they were performing a basic religious duty in preparation for their later activities.” (Islamic Reform and Revival in Nineteenth Century India, Yoda Press,2008, p. 39)

Muhammad Hedayatullah wrote in his Masters thesis for McGill University on Sayyid Ahmad Barelwi: “His [Sayyid Ahmad’s] relation with the Arabian Wahhabis is not historically proved.” (A Study of the Religious Reform Movement of Sayyid Ahmad of Rae Bareli, p. 26)

4. GF Haddad said: “The night of the Mawlid Sharif is of greater significance and merit than Laylat al-Qadr which is the position of some of the Maliki Imams as cited by Abu al-`Abbas al-Wansharisi (d. 914) in his encyclopdia of Maliki fatwas titled _al-Mi`yar al-Mu`rab wa al-Jami` al-Mughrib fi Fatawa Ahl Ifriqya wa al-Andalus wa al-Maghrib (11:280-285).”

“Some” normally means “more than one,” but this encyclopaedia only cites one person stating this view.

5. GF Haddad said: “Secondly, it is patently false that the origin of the two `Eids cannot be attributed to any particular event of history that had happened on these dates as the books of Tafsir are replete with the story of the sacrifice of Ibrahim (as) with his son Isma`il (as) on the occasion of which was offered a huge ram as stated in the Holy Qur’an.”

There is no proof that the sacrifice of Ibrahim (‘alayhi salam) happened on the day of ‘Id (10th Dhu l-Hijjah).

6. GF Haddad said: “As for death anniversaries, the Prophet definitely visited his wife and uncle’s graves on a regular basis as well as his mother’s.”

No such rigorously authentic narration exists which state he visited any of these relatives on a regular basis.

7. Translating a passage from Siyar A’lam al-Nubala’, GF Haddad quotes al-Dhahabi as follows: “As for his celebration of the Noble Mawlid al-Nabawi, words are too poor to describe it. The people used to come all the way from Iraq and Algeria to attend it. Two wooden dais would be erected and decorated for him and his wife… the celebration would last several days, and a huge quantity of cows and camels would be brought out to be sacrificed and cooked in different ways… Preachers would roam the field exhorting the people. Great sums were spent (as charity). Ibn Dihya compiled a ‘Book of Mawlid’ for him for which he received 1,000 dinars. He [Muzaffar] was modest, a LOVER OF GOOD, AND A TRUE SUNNI who loved scholars of jurisprudence and scholars of hadith, and was generous even to poets. He was killed in battle according to what is reported.”

The original passage of al-Dhahabi’s Siyar does not say “a true Sunni” (sunniyyun haqqan), but just “Sunni”. In the deliberately placed ellipsis, al-Dhahabi said: “In them [i.e. the pavilions erected for the mawlid celebration] were musicians and men of play, and he [i.e. al-Malik al-Muzaffar] would come down everyday at ‘Asr and stand at every pavilion and watch/take enjoyment from (the music and play).” (wa fiha jawq al-maghani wa al-la’ib, wa yanzilu kulla yawmin al-‘asra fayaqifu ‘ala kulli qubbatin wa yatafarraj). This was not translated amidst the remainder of the passage for obvious reasons.

8. GF Haddad said regarding the narration in which the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) prayed at Bethlehem during the Night Journey: “and al-Bazzar [narrated it] with a sound chain as indicated by al-Haythami in Majma` al-Zawa’id”

On the hadith in question, al-Haythami says in Majma’ al-Zawa’id: “Al-Bazzar and al-Tabrani in al-Kabir narrated it…In it is Ishaq ibn Ibrahim ibn al-‘Ala, considered trustworthy by Yahya ibn Ma’in and weakened by al-Nasa’i.”

رواه البزار والطبراني في الكبير ، إلا أن الطبراني قال فيه : ” قد أخذ صاحبك الفطرة ، وإنه لمهدي . وقال في وصف جهنم كيف وجدتها ؟ قال : مثل الحمة السخنة ” . وفيه إسحاق بن إبراهيم بن العلاء ، وثقه يحيى بن معين ، وضعفه النسائي

And this Haddad claims is an indication of its soundness from al-Haythami though he makes no such judgement.

9. GF Haddad said: “Secondly, the prescription of the commemoration of the birth of Christ *was* prescribed in the early Christian Church, even if its chronological proximity to the pagan commemoration of the winter solstice was co-opted by the political authorities as a means to recycle prevalent social customs in certain regions including those of pagan origins.”

In exact contradiction to this statement, the Catholic Encyclopaedia states: “Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church. Irenaeus and Tertullian omit it from their lists of feasts; Origen, glancing perhaps at the discreditable imperial Natalitia, asserts (in Lev. Hom. viii in Migne, P.G., XII, 495) that in the Scriptures sinners alone, not saints, celebrate their birthday; Arnobius (VII, 32 in P.L., V, 1264) can still ridicule the “birthdays” of the gods.” The Encyclopaedia goes on to mention that the first time it was celebrated was two centuries after Christ. It seems, Haddad’s assertion that the commemoration of the birth of Christ was prescribed in the early Church, is simply fabricated and has no basis in fact.

10. GF Haddad said in his review of Kitab al-Tawhid: “Citing another weak narration that “a Companion” said: “Let us all go seek the help of the Messenger of Allâh (qûmû binâ nastaghîthu birasûlillah) against this hypocrite [`Abd Allâh ibn Ubay ibn Salûl who challenged Abû Bakr to ask the Prophet for a major miracle],” whereupon the Prophet said: “Innahu lâ yustaghâthu bî innamâ yustaghâthu billâh * “Help is not sought with me, it is sought only with Allâh.” Ibn `Abd al-Wahhâb references it to al-T.abarânî. [10]
First neither the wording nastaghîthu birasûlillah nor innahu lâ yustaghâthu bî innamâ yustaghâthu billâh is found in any book of h.adîth and there is no chain for them! The reference to “al-T.abarânî” shows blind imitation of Ibn Taymiyya’s incorrect referencing of these wordings to al-T.abarânî’s al-Mu`jam al-Kabîr in al-Radd `alâ al-Bakrî and Majmû` al-Fatâwâ.”

In fact, the exact narration as quoted by Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab was narrated by al-Tabrani. In Majma’ al-Zawa’id (Kitab al-Ad’iyah, Bab Fima Yustaftah bihi al-Du’a…vol 10, page 246 Darwish ed.), al-Haythami said:

عن عبادة بن الصامت قال قال أبو بكر قوموا نستغيث برسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم من هذا المنافق فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم انه لا يستغاث بى إنما يستغاث بالله عزوجل
رواه الطبراني ورجاله رجال الصحيح غير ابن لهيعة وهو حسن الحديث

After narrating it with the wording presented by Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab with “Help is not sought from me, it is only sought from Allah,” al-Haytami says: “Al-Tabrani narrated it and its men are the men of the Sahih besides Ibn Lahi’ah whose hadiths are hasan.”


Ruling on seeking help from the Creation

April 25, 2012

Compiled by Saad Khan

Allah Most High says in the Qur’an,

“You alone do we worship, and from You alone do we seek aid.” (Al-Fatihah, 5)

‘Allamah Husayn bin Mas’ud Baghawi al-Shafi’i (d.516 AH) writes in the commentary of this verse, “We seek assistance from You in Your ‘ibadah (worship) and in all of our affairs. If it is said, ‘Why was ‘ibadah mentioned before isti’anah (beseeching for help) even though help is sought before ‘ibadah?’ By this

those who believe ability (istita’ah) occurs before an action are defeated. But we, by the grace of Allah, believe accordance and seeking help (isti’anah) occur simultaneously with an action, so there is no difference between placing [isti’anah] before and placing [it] after [‘ibadah]. It was [also] said: Isti’anah is a type of ‘ibadah, so it is as though ‘ibadah as a whole was mentioned first, and then one of its particular types [i.e. isti’anah] was mentioned.” (Ma’alim al-Tanzil, 1:53)

Therefore it can be seen that istighathah/isti’anah is a form of worship.

Verdicts on seeking aid from the creation:

[1] The author of the well-known work I’la’ al-Sunan, `Allamah Zafar Ahmad ‘Uthmani (d.1394 AH), has discussed the issue of istighathah in detail in his treatise Al-Irshad fi Mas’alah al-Istimdad. He has divided istighathah into several categories for a better and a clearer understanding. The summary of which is:

[a] To call a prophet or a saint (dead or alive) from nearby or at their grave.

[b] To call them from a distant place when the purpose is not to address them directly, such as when their name is called out due to overwhelming [emotion and] rapture of their love [as sometimes done in poetry].

[c] To call them [with the intention of addressing them] and with the belief that they can hear from far.

[d] To call them in their absence, not to address them, [seek aid from them] or due to overwhelming rapture [emotion], but rather as a recitation of a supplication (du’a) which contains their name as being addressed (ba sighah al-nida’).

[The ruling on the above mentioned points:]

[a] It is permissible according to the agreement of the research scholars (muhaqqiqin). This is provided that isti’anat (help) being sought is not haram, [such as] asking those alive for things that are considered umur ghayr `adiyyah[1] (those things that are `adatan -according to natural disposition – or shar’an – as per Shari’ah – outside the power (qudrah) of humans and are not considered their actions – [also referred to as ma fawq al-asbab]) like saying, ‘O shaykh, give me children’.

Or to ask those in the grave for things that are either umur ghayr `adiyyah or things that are considered umur `adiyyah (those things are that `adatan or shar’an within the power of humans and are considered their actions – [also referred to as ma taht al-asbab]) but become umur ghayr `adiyyah after death, like asking for help in a trial, or asking for sustenance, children, rain, cure from disease, etc.

[b] It is permissible.

[c] It is shirk.

[d] It is permissible provided that this supplication (du’a) is present in the Qur’an or hadith, like in tashahhud where `al-salamu `alayka ayyuhannabiy’ is reported with sighah al-khitab. (For more see: Maqalat ‘Uthmani, 2:287-288)

[2] Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah al-Halabi (d.1417 AH) was falsely attributed with having supported istighathah. He clarified his stance by stating, “I, by the grace and guidance of Allah Most High, His favor and help, did not commit any of the matter which they [falsely] claimed. I subscribe to that which the great scholars and pious predecessors [have already] determined in the past, like Imam Ahmad and other imams (may Allah have mercy on them) who said: ‘It is unlawful to seek aid (istighathah) from the creation; it is impermissible to seek aid from anyone other than Allah in matters which are not in the power (qudrah) of anyone except Allah’. [Thus] I acted upon the clear texts [which] prevailed in the Qur’an and Sunnah of the Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace). I have no need to provide the texts here, since my purpose here is not to prove and provide evidence for this, but to expose slander and oppression.” (Kashf al-Abatil, p.36)

It is clear from the above statement of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattah that to seek aid above the means (ma fawq al-asbab) is not permissible under any condition, and he attributes this principle to Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal.

[3] Imam Muhammad bin Pir ‘Ali al-Birgivi al-Hanafi (d.981 AH), the famous Ottoman scholar and author of Tariqah al-Muhammadiyyah, writes in Ziyarat al-Qubur while discussing visitations to graves that are not deemed permissible according to the  Shari’ah, “Visiting graves to offer prayers by them, circumambulate them, kiss them, brush up against them, rub cheeks on them; take their dust, supplicate to their occupants, seek their aid (isti’anah), ask from them help, sustenance, well being, children, fulfillment of debts, removal of difficulties, help with sorrows and other needs which the worshippers of idols used to ask their idols – none of this is sanctioned in Shari’ah according to the consensus of the imams of Muslims, because neither the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) did this nor did any of the Companions and Followers and the imams of the faith did this. Rather, the basis of this heretical (bid’ati), polytheistic visit has been derived from the worshippers of statues.” (Ziyarat al-Qubur, p.18)

He further writes while responding to one of the arguments used by the proponents of istighathah and describing how Satan deceives them, “There are stories narrated by them about the people in graves: A man performed istighathah to a certain grave in intensity, so he came out of it [i.e. came out of his difficulty]. Another person called the dead person or supplicated to him in need, so his need was fulfilled. Likewise, a person was afflicted with a trouble, so he beseeched a certain dead person in the grave, and his trouble was removed. These priests and grave-worshippers have many such incidents to report; if we mention all of them, the chain will be too long. They are the worst liars of Allah’s creatures from the living and the dead. They are bent to fulfilling their needs and removing their harms, so when they hear that the grave of a person is an antidote they tend to it and the Satan acts gently to invite them. Satan first invites the person to pray near it. Thus, the person prays there with earnestness and humbleness and Allah accepts his prayers due to his humbleness, and devotion and not because of the grave. Had he called Allah in a bar, wine shop, bathroom or a market, Allah would have responded to his call. As a result, the ignorant has a false impression that the grave has some effect in the acceptance of the prayers. And Allah accepts the prayers of the helpless even if he is a disbeliever (kafir). Therefore, it is not necessary that Allah is pleased with the one whose prayers are responded to or He loves him or He approves of his actions, as Allah accepts the prayers of the righteous and the dissolute and of the believer and disbeliever.” (Ziyarat al-Qubur, p.31-32)

 [4] ‘Allamah Taqi al-Din Subki (d.756 AH) writes, “This [i.e. hasr (restriction)] only appears in [the verse]: ‘You alone we worship, and You alone we ask for help’ because of the certainty that none is [rightfully] worshipped except Allah, and help is sought from none save Him.” (Fatawa al-Subki, 1:13)

[5] Imam Shah Waliullah Muhaddith Dahlawi (d.1174 AH) has at length refuted the practice of seeking aid from the dead. He writes regarding those people who visit the graves of the saints in order to present their needs, “Tafhim (Instruction): Anyone who goes to the town of Ajmer [to the grave of Khawaja Mu’in al-Din Chishti] or to the grave of Shaykh Salar Mas’ud Ghazi (may Allah have mercy on them), or to any such place, in order to ask [them] for his needs (hajat), [his going] is indeed a sin more grievous than murder and adultery. He is not but like those who worship the creation or like those who call on Lat[2] and ‘Uzza [for help]. However, we do not [explicitly] declare disbelief [upon him] due to the absence of a text from the Lawgiver in this specific matter. Anyone who assigns life to the dead and requests his needs from them, ‘his heart is surely sinful’ (Qur’an, 2:283), and [this act] is included in His statement (Exalted is He), ‘that is iniquity’ (Qur’an, 5:3).” (Tafhimat al-Ilahiyyah, 2:45)

Shah Waliullah writes at another place, “Some of them [Mushrikin] believe that Allah alone is Noble and the Master, and He alone has influence over the world, but [they also believe that] sometimes He grants some servants the garment of highness and majesty and provides them with power and discretion (tasarruf) in certain matters of the world, just like the emperors give some of their slaves the robe of ruling and set them as rulers of some parts of their empires… And 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 (Allah bless him and give him peace) in today’s time.” (Al-Budur al-Bazighah, p.123-124)

‘Allamah Muhammad Sarfaraz Khan Safdar writes in Tanqid-i-Matin bar Tafsir Na’im al-Din, p.27, that from the above quote of Shah Waliullah it becomes clear that the polytheists used to seek help from entities other than Allah, even though they did not seek their help considering them as independent, rather they considered them phenomena (mazhar) of Allah’s help and aid. And this is the reality of polytheism; there is no polytheist in the world who believes that anyone besides Allah is the real helper in the sense of considering him ‘necessary per se and an independent source of power. Instead the polytheists used to seek help [from other entities] under the gifted power [which they believe was gifted to them by Allah].

Shah Waliullah writes while explaining the principles of religion, “Besides, the rejection of polytheism in relation to Him in worship, in seeking aid, in remembrance, in sacrifice, and in vows and oaths is among the principles of this religion.” (Al-Budur al-Bazighah, p.251)

And he writes while distinguishing between various types of hypocrites, “People who have been prevailed upon by paralogism [their bad knowledge about Allah]… are like the hypocrites of the Muslim community. They follow the religion of Islam and conceal in their hearts others who they associate with Allah in their worship, as in their asking others besides Allah for help (isti’anah). They have thought that the pleasure of God is confined to the pleasure of His worshipping devotees.” (Al-Budur al-Bazighah, p.202)

The clever amongst those who propagate seeking aid from the dead say, ‘when we ask the dead for help, we merely use them as a means; it is no different from taking medicine when sick’. Shah Waliullah Muhaddith Dahlawi refutes their deception by stating, “And you should know that seeking to fulfill needs (hajat) through the dead with the belief that they are [merely] a means to fulfillment is disbelief (kufr) which must be avoided; the Kalimah Shahadah regards it as prohibited, but nowadays people are excessively involved in these things.” (Al-Khayr al-Kathir, p.105)

Shah Waliullah writes in Al-Qawl al-Jamil, p.46 – a book on the Sufi practices of the four major tariqahs of tasawwuf, “Explanation of Major Sin: Among the major sins is ascribing partners with Allah in worship and in seeking aid [in a matter that is not established by the natural means (asbab) or established in the Shari‘ah] for livelihood, cure, and other such things. And an indication to repent from these two [ascribing partners in worship and in seeking aid] is His utterance (Exalted be He) ‘It is You we worship and You we ask for help’ (verse five of Surah Fatihah).”

[6] Shaykh Khurram ‘Ali al-Balhuri[3] (d.1271 AH) writes while commenting on the above quote of Shah Waliullah from Al-Qawl al-Jamil, “Mawlana [Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Dahlawi ] wrote in the footnote of this book [i.e. Al-Qawl al-Jamil] that it is common in our age to seek aid in acquiring livelihood and cure through graves and the dead.

The translator [Shaykh Khurram ‘Ali] says that ‘ascribing partners in worship’ is to perform practices to other than Allah which were specifically meant for Allah or the House of Allah. These include fasting [in the name of] Sayyiduna ‘Ali al-Murtada (may Allah be pleased with him), or prostrating to someone, or calling someone other than Allah with a name of Allah, or circumambulating around graves just like the tawaf of Ka’bah. As far as the indication of repenting from ascribing partners in worship and in seeking aid (as in verse five of Surah Fatihah) is concerned, it is because advancing the maf’ul (object) on the fi’l (verb) is useful in creating emphasis and stress, i.e. “You alone [and only You] do we worship, and from You alone [and only You] do we seek help”. So, when worship and isti’anah (seeking aid) have been established to be exclusive for Allah, it is absolutely unlawful to worship ghayrullah or to seek aid, ask for livelihood or cure, etc. from them. The reason for specifying worship is obvious. As for the reason for specifying isti’anah, it is that helping depends on three qualities: [1] knowledge (‘ilm), [2] power (qudrah) and [3] mercy (rahmah). [The reason for knowledge] is that one who is unaware of the other’s needs, how can he help him? And if he has the knowledge, but does not have the power, then how can he assist his needs? And if knowledge and power both are present, but he does not have mercy and compassion, then why would he help the needy one? So, these three qualities are exclusive to Allah alone, who is All-Knowing, All-Powerful and Very Merciful; therefore seeking aid from other than Allah is unlawful. Some grave-worshipers say that Allah has bestowed knowledge and power to awliya’ so seeking aid will not be prohibited from them. The response to them is that if they are truthful in their claim, they should prove from the Qur’an or Hadith or Ijma‘ (consensus) of the Ummah that the awliya‘ have such vast knowledge that the far and near as well as the ghayb (unseen) and shahadah (seen) are equal for them, and in every moment [these awliya‘] are aware of the needs of the entire world and have the power to remove their troubles. But this is absolutely impossible to establish. Therefore, their unfounded notions are not worth paying any attention. May Allah grant us through His generosity correct understanding and protect us from misguidance and misunderstanding. Amin!” (Shifa’ al-‘Alil, p.46-47)

[7] Imam Rabbani Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi (d.1323 AH) writes while discussing the issue of seeking aid from the prophets and saints with the belief that they are merely a means (sabab), “Although it seems the fulfillment of needs is through instruments, to supplicate and seek aid from the instruments is shirk. This is because leaving the Powerful Creator and seeking aid from an instrument is not free from the resemblance of shirk. Supplicating and calling is something else as it requires the one being called to have knowledge and discretion (tasarruf), while being a means is something else because it indicates that it is a medium and accepted before Allah, and there is a vast difference between the two! For example, the sun provides light, but seeking light from the sun is shirk.” (Rasai’il Rashidiyyah, p.93)

[8] ‘Allamah Mansur ibn Yunus al-Bahuti[4] (d.1051 AH) in Kashaf al-Qina’, 5:145, and ‘Allamah Mustafa Suyuti al-Rahbani (d.1243 AH) in Matalib Uli al-Nuha Sharh Ghayat al-Muntaha in the chapter ‘Ruling of the Apostate’ have also refuted this notion of using the dead as intermediaries for seeking aid. They state, “The Shaykh said: [The ruling of apostasy is given towards one who] has an aversion towards the Messenger or what he came with, according to consensus. He added: [This ruling also applies if] he took intermediaries between himself and Allah, relying on them and supplicating to them, according to consensus. [Such belief] is infidelity (kufr) since it resembles the acts of the idolaters who say: ‘We worship them for no other reason but because they would bring us near to Allah’.”

[9] Imam Shah `Abd al-`Aziz Muhaddith Dahlawi (d.1239 AH), the son of Shah Waliullah, while discussing the permissible and impermissible types of istimdad at the grave, writes, “Seeking help is of two types. Firstly, a creation (makhluq) seeks help from another created being, like servants and beggars asking the rich and the kings for help in their needs. [This is permissible when the ones being asked are alive, since after death this ability is beyond their means – as was explained above and will be explained later]. And [as for the] general public, requesting the saints to pray to Allah regarding their needs – this type of request is allowed in Shari’ah, be it from the dead or those who are alive.

He continues:

“Secondly, to request the creation for matters which are permanently exclusive to Allah – like giving children or sending rain or curing diseases or increasing the lifespan and other similar things which are invoked and asked only from Allah, this type [of istimdad] is not only absolute haram, but rather disbelief (kufr). And if anyone from among the Muslims asks for this type of help from the saints of his madhhab, dead or alive, he is outside the fold of Islam.” (Fatawa ‘Azizi, 1:35)

From the above it also becomes evident that to ask aid above the means (ma fawq al-asbab), from the dead or alive, is not permissible.

Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Dahlawi further writes while discussing deviant beliefs, “…Or elevates the status of the imams and saints to the level of the prophets and messengers, and establishes for the prophets and messengers divine characteristics (lawazim al-Uluhiyyat) such as knowledge of the unseen (‘ilm al-ghayb), answering the invocation (faryad) of anyone from anywhere and having power over everything…” (Tafsir `Azizi, 1:40)

The three beliefs refuted by Shah `Abd al-`Aziz, [i] ‘ilm al-ghayb, [ii] hadir nadir, and [iii] mukhayyir al-kull, make the backbone of the beliefs of the innovators of our time. The innovators assume that prophets and saints have ‘ilm al-ghayb and are aware of everything that goes on in the universe, and they are able to hear us when we call upon them because of them being hadir nadir. And since they can hear our needs, they can also help us by their authority of discretion (tasarruf) in the matters of the universe because they are mukhayyir al-kull.

Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz mentions that being aware of everything that goes on the tongues or in the hearts of the creation is only the special quality of Allah Most High, and the creation has no authority in this matter. He mentions that the polytheists and some so-called Muslims affirm this for the saints and seek aid from them with this belief that they are aware of our states at all times.

He writes in an explanation of the “drawing close” mentioned in the hadith: ‘My slave shall continue drawing close to me’, “However, this way of closeness (taqarrub) is particular to Allah Almighty. If someone wishes to seek closeness to any of the creation in this way, it is not possible and applicable. The reason for this is that, in this type of relationship, the one being approached one must have two qualities:

[a] The first is the encompassing knowledge of the verbal and mental dhikr of the dhakirin (those who remember) despite of being in different places and at different times, and being varied in intellectual capacities and languages, so that he could know the verbal and mental dhikr of every dhakir.

[b] The second is the power of being close, and the intruding in place and covering it, and creating such a condition which, in terminology of Shari’ah, is known as ‘dunu’, ‘tadalli’, ‘nuzul’ and ‘qurb’ (nearness, coming closer, descending, closeness).

Both these qualities are special to Allah Almighty alone; none of the creation shares these qualities. Yes, some of the disbelievers establish the first matter for some of their deities while some among the Muslims who worship the saints also affirm the same for their saints, and at times of need seek aid (istia’nat) from them with this belief. (He continues)… And this applies to all created things, even if they have souls, because they firstly do not have encompassing knowledge that allows them to know of the dhikr of everyone who is doing dhikr.” (Tafsir ‘Azizi, Juz 29, p.18, from Itmam al-Burhan fi Rad Tawdih al-Bayan, ‘Allamah Sarfaraz Khan Safdar)

Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Dahlawi writes while discussing different types of shirk, “The fourth type is worshipers of saints (pirs) [who] say that when a saint becomes in the sight of Allah mustajab al-da’awat (whose du’a is accepted) and maqbul al-shafa’ah (whose intercession is approved) because of his spiritual exercise and effort (mujahidah) [and then he] leaves this world, his soul acquires great power and immense expansion. So if one envisions (tasawwur) him, or prostrates at his place of residence or grave and expresses full humility, then [the saint’s] soul comes to know of that because of its expansion and freedom, and then intercedes on his behalf in this world and the hereafter.” (Tafsir ‘AziziSurah Baqarah, p.127)

Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz writes in the commentary about Wadd, Suwa’, Yaghuth, Ya’uq and Nasr mentioned in Surah Nuh, “In short, all these five are the names of the five sons of Sayyiduna Idris[5] (may the peace of Allah be upon him) and all of them were men.” (Tafsir `Azizi, p.131)

The people of Sayyiduna Nuh (may the peace of Allah be upon him) considered these saints as phenomena and manifestations of Allah’s help, and referred to them with titles such as dafi’ al-bala’ (remover of distress). The leaders among his people urged their public not to leave these saints.

Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz continues, “Yaghuth, who is [considered to be] the phenomena of giving aid and resolving difficulties, was created in the form of a horse by the people of Sayyiduna Nuh (may peace be upon him); this was so because the horse symbolized running, rushing, and helping. And as per the Shari’ah, this attribute is called ghiyath al-mustaghithin (fulfilling the need of help-seekers) and mujib da’wat al-muztarrin (answerer of the supplications of the afflicted), and in Hindi language this phenomenon is called indar. [And they said] not to leave Ya’uq either, who is the phenomena of protection and removal of troubles, and in Islam this attribute is called kashif al-dhur (warder of harm) and dafi’ al-bala’ (remover of affliction).” (Tafsir `Azizi, p.131, from Itmam al-Burhan, ‘Allamah Sarfaraz Khan Safdar)

[10] ‘Allamah Ahmad Din Bughwi al-Lahori[6] (d.1286 AH) wrote Dalil al-Mushrikin on the enormity of shirk. In there he states, “Shirk fi ‘l-isti’anah (shirk in seeking aid): Committing shirk in seeking help and seeking the fulfillment of one’s needs through the dead, and committing shirk in directing one’s attention towards them, is the most heinous form of shirk[7]. Do you not see that ‘ibadah (worship) and isti’anah (seeking aid) are specific for Allah as in Surah al-Fatihah: ‘You alone do we worship, and from You alone do we seek help,’ (1:4). In every Salah we admit and acknowledge in Surah al-Fatihah,O Allah! We make our worship for You [and You alone]. And we do not seek help from anyone other than You. And all of our needs we ask help from You alone. We neither worship any other than You, nor do we ask help from any other than You [in matters that are ma fawq al-asbab]. And look, Allah Most High has in the Holy Qur’an rejected asking for help and aid from other than Him: ‘Other than Allah, you have neither a patron, nor a helper’ (2:107). Likewise, He also negated Shifa’ah [from other than Allah]: ‘Other than Him, there is neither a guardian for you, nor an intercessor,’ (32:4). And Allah has limited help to His own self: And help is not except from Allah, the All-Powerful, the All-Wise,’ (3:126). And Allah is sufficient for being a guardian and helper: ‘Allah is enough as a friend, and Allah is enough as a supporter,’ (4:45).”  (Dalil al-Mushrikin, p.107-108)

He further writes, “This issue has been mentioned in the treatise of Hafiz Hamid al-Qari al-Lahori: ‘If anyone says while boarding a ship, ‘Appear, O Khidr!’ and he believes that Khidr (peace be upon him) is aware of his affairs, then he will turn kafir. Likewise, if someone says, ‘O Farid Ganj Shakar, or O Nizam al-Din help me in my affair’, and he believes that they are aware of his affairs and matters, he will become kafir. The proof is that if the belief that the Holy Prophet – who is the best and the most knowledgeable of the creation – knows the ghayb is kufr, as the Qur’an says: ‘With Him [Allah] are the keys of the Unseen’ (6:59), and: ‘If I [the Messenger of Allah] had the knowledge of the Unseen, I would have accumulated a lot of good things,’ (7:188). When the Messenger of Allah himself does not know the knowledge of the unseen, what can we say about others? And this issue has been mentioned in Nafi’ al-Muslimin and Fatawa al-Muhit that one who believes that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) or the angels knows the ghayb will become kafir. This is because supplicating and invoking them [the prophets, angels, etc.] entails that they are aware of these prayers and invocations. This is prohibited and not supported by any proof, ‘surely, conjectures are of no avail in the matter of truth at all,’ (10:36). And even if one does not believe that they are hadhir nadhir, it will be sheer nonsense and still considered haram [to ask and supplicate from them].” (Dalil al-Mushrikin, p.85-86)

‘Allamah Bughwi al-Lahori continues while distinguishing between istighathah and tawassul, “However, if in both the cases [whether near the grave or far from it], he says, [for example]: ‘O Prophet of Allah’! or, ‘O Martyr! give me children, memory of knowledge, or cure my patient, or fulfill my such-and-such need, [and so on,]’ then in this situation saying thus will clearly be kufr. This is because he denies the Qur’an: ‘Other than Allah, you have neither a patron, nor a helper,’ (2:107). He has clearly denied an explicit verse therefore it is kufr. And if he says before the grave: ‘O so and so! Ask Allah to give me children, or memory of knowledge, or to fulfill my such and such need, or to cure my patient,’ then supplicating like this is disputed among the scholars. Some regard it unlawful [while others regard it lawful]. But the unlawfulness is before the graves of those who are other than those we have mentioned [i.e. making such du’a is not lawful at the graves of people other than the prophets, the martyrs and those who have been given the glad tidings of Paradise by Allah and his Messenger].” (Dalil al-Mushrikin, p.111)

And he writes while discussing the severity of seeking aid from the dead, “And Shaykh ‘Abdullah al-Multani writes: ‘When a man directs his attention away from Allah Most High and towards some other being and he knows that his need would be fulfilled by this other being, his need is fulfilled quickly. The angels submit before Allah Most High, ‘The person did not put his request before You, yet You hurriedly granted his request. What is the wisdom behind that?’ Allah Most High replies that this person has sold his iman (faith) and I have taken it from him, so why should I not hurry to fulfill his need?” (Dalil al-Mushrikin, p.152)

Lastly, he answers an objection by the proponents of istighathah. They say, “If it is said that all these verses are about idols and statues, then how, from these verses, do you negate power (qudrah) and discretion (tasarruf) for the awliya’ who spent their lives in following His orders and carrying out His commands?’ The Shaykh replies, ‘First, this statement is not worthy of accepting that these verses were exclusively meant for idols. Instead, as we have mentioned in the commentary and explanation of these verses, these verses are general, and include angels, saints, prophets, jinns idols, and the rest of the creation. Associating anything in the worship of Allah Most High has been negated. Second, if, suppose we do say that these verses were exclusively for the idols, even then the statement is not worthy of accepting because it is an established principle of Usul al-Fiqh (principles of jurisprudence) that the generality of the words will be considered. The specificity of the cause is not considered. If the specificity of the cause is considered and the rulings are limited [to that specific cause], then the teachings of the Qur’an will no longer be general and common, which is against the promise made by the Qur’an: ‘It is nothing but a reminder for all the [people of the] worlds,’ (12:104)].” (Dalil al-Mushrikin, p.68-69)

[11] ‘Allamah Sun’ Allah bin Sun’ Allah al-Makki[8] (d.1120 AH) wrote a treatise Sayfullah ‘ala man Kadhiba ‘ala Awliya’ Allah – The Sword of Allah against one who attributes lies toward the friends of Allah. In it, he has refuted the practice of istighathah and other deviant beliefs prevalent among the ignorant masses. He writes on pp.22-3, “Nowadays, multitudes amongst the Muslims have emerged claiming that the saints (awliya’) have discretion (tasarrufat) in their life and after death, and through them help is sought (yustaghathu bihim) in difficulties and calamities, and by their aspirations, matters of concern are resolved, so they come to their graves, call to them to fulfil their needs, adducing as evidence for [this practice] that these are miracles (karamat) from them. [Some of those] who claim knowledge of [juristic] issues reinforce this for them, and support them with fatwas and treatises…This, as you see, is speech containing negligence and excess, and extremism in the religion due to abandoning precaution (tark al-ihtiyat). Rather, therein is eternal damnation and infinite punishment, due to what it contains of the odors of actual shirk, and of contending with the authoritative Mighty Book and opposition to the beliefs of the Imams, and that which this ummah has agreed upon.”

He further writes on p.36-38, “Whoever attributes lies to His friends (awliya’), it is as if he attributes lies to Allah and takes his desires as his god. ‘They [shall] have shackles around their necks,’ (13:5). ‘They are like cattle. Rather, they are more astray.’ (7:179). As far as what they say regarding the saints (awliya’) having discretion (tasarruf) in their lives and after death, it is rejected by His (Exalted is His Mention) saying: ‘Is there any god along with Allah?’ (27:60). ‘Know that to Him belongs the creation and the command,’ (7:54). ‘To Him belongs what is in the heavens and the earth,’ (31:26). ‘To him belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth,’ (25:2).

And there are many other similar verses which state that Allah alone has the attributes of creation, discretion (tasarruf) and predestination without any kind of partnership with anyone. So, everything is under His dominion and control, in discretion and ownership, in giving life and death, and in creation. This was accepted by the predecessors and their successors, and it was agreed upon by all Muslims and they believed it as they believed in ‘la ilaha illallah’.

 Many verses of the Qur’an praise Allah Most High for His singularity in His dominion and power [in the universe], like His saying: ‘Is there any creator except Allah?’ (35:3). ‘Only He created everything,’ (25:3). ‘We created everything with measure,’ (54:49). ‘That is Allah, your Lord, the Creator of everything,’ (40:62). ‘Is then the One who creates [everything] equal to one who does not create?’ (16:18). ‘Show me what they have created from the earth; Or have they a share in [the creation of] the heavens?’ (35:40). ‘And those whom you invoke besides Him do not own even the membrane on a date-stone,’ (35:13). ‘Say: call upon those whom you claim besides Allah. They do not possess [anything] even to the measure of a particle, neither in the heavens nor in the earth. They have no share at all in them,’ (34:22). ‘Surely, those whom you invoke beside Allah are slaves [of Allah] like you,’ (7:194). ‘Those whom you call beside Him cannot help you, nor can they help themselves,’ (7:197). ‘That is because Allah is the truth and that whatever they invoke besides Him is false and that Allah is the High, the Great,’ (22:62).

There are uncountable verses containing the same meaning. In all these verses His saying ‘min dun Allah (other than/besides Allah) means [all] other than Him Most High, as it is general including within it those you believe to be a satan and a saint from whom you seek help. One who has no power to help himself [i.e. ghayrullah], how can he render help to others?”

‘Allamah Sun’ Allah al-Halabi writes on p.40, “As far as the belief that after death they have discretion (tasarruf) in matters, it is more heinous than saying they have discretion in their lifetime.”

He further writes on p.45-47 while explaining the correct understanding of miracles,  “As for their support that these powers are from their karamat [and at their discretion], it is fallacious, because karamah is something that originates from Allah by which He honors (yukrim) His friends and prophets, without their intention, challenge, power and knowledge, as in the matter of Maryam bint ‘Imran[9], Usayd ibn Hudayr[10], Abu Musa al-Khawlani, and those that are like them as you will soon learn. Thus it can’t be said that they are from their powers and [nor can it] be unqualifiedly said of them what they say of tasarruf (discretion). ‘Undoubtedly they utter an evil word and a lie’ (58:2) and the sincere Muslims are free from such things.

As for as their statement: ‘through them help is sought in difficulties and calamities, and by their aspirations, matters of concern are resolved’, this is worse and strange, and more abominable and repulsive, because this contradicts the Qur’an: ‘Or the One who responds to a helpless person when He prays to Him and removes distress, and who makes you vicegerents of the earth? Is there any god along with Allah? (27:62). ‘Say, Who is the One who delivers you from the darkness of the land and the sea? Say, Allah delivers you from it and from every pain,’ (6:64). ‘Whatever blessing you have is from Allah. Then, once you are touched by distress, to Him alone you cry for help,’ (16:53). ‘Say, call those whom you assume [to be gods], besides Him, while they have no power to remove distress from you, nor to change it,’ (17:56). ‘Then, tell me about those whom you invoke other than Allah, if Allah intends to cause some harm to me, are they [able] to remove the harm caused by Him? Or if He intends to bless me with mercy, are they [able] to hold back His mercy [from me)]’ (39:38). ‘If Allah causes you harm, there is no one to remove it except He Himself; and if He causes you good, then He is powerful over everything,’ (6:17).

And there are other similar verses in which Allah Most High declared that no one is the remover of harm but He and only He can remove distress and pain and He alone grants the supplications of the distressed ones and no one but He is called for help. He is all Powerful to do good and He alone can do so. Since He [Allah] was indeed meant [in these verses], the ghayr (others) – like the angels, prophets, saints and so on – were automatically negated, as was explained in the Holy Qur’an: ‘Say, call those whom you assume, besides Him, while they have no power to remove distress from you, nor to change it,’ (17:56) with further argument from the following verse: ‘Those whom they invoke, do themselves seek the means of access to their Lord as to which of them becomes the closest, and they hope for His Mercy and fear His punishment. The punishment of your Lord is really something to be feared,’ (17:57). The verse declares clearly that the prophets do not have power to remove harm from anyone, so how can the others who are even lower in rank than them do so? But, ‘whomsoever Allah lets to go astray, for him you will find no one to help, [and] no one to lead,’ (18:17).”

‘Allamah Sun’ Allah al-Makki answers a misconception of the proponents of istighathah, on p.49-51, “What has been said [by some scholars] of istighathah through the prophets and saints being permissible, the meaning of it is only attaining blessing (tabarruk) through their mention, and tawassul through them, and not seeking assistance (imdad) from them.[11]

So, beware, and then again, beware, with respect to your condition of the fallacy of your brethren!

O Allah! Cleanse us from this ignominy and protect us from suspicion of that in which is destruction [i.e. shirk].”

‘Allamah Sun’ Allah continues while distinguishing between help that is within the means and that which is above the means, “Seeking aid (istighathah) is permissible in the ordinary outward means (al-asbab al-zahirat al-‘adiyyah), of fighting or catching an enemy or a predator and the like of this like their statement: ‘O Zayd!’ ‘O my people!’, or ‘O Muslims!’ as they mentioned them in the books of Nahw in accordance with actual (bi l-fi’il) outward means.[12] However, seeking aid by potential [means] (bi l-quwwah) or in intangible matters of difficulties, of sickness, fear of drowning, distress, poverty; and seeking provision and its like; these are from the exclusive qualities of Allah and no one besides Him can be invoked with regards to them.

Allah, Glorious is His Mention, states: ‘And when you face a hardship at sea, vanished are those whom you used to invoke, except Him ,’ (17:67). Thus He negated the invocation of other than Him, so His uniqueness in this is stipulated. Thus, hold to such belief, and do not be of those who deviated due to his reason, ‘when shackles will be round their necks, and chains they will be dragged into the hot water after which they will be thrown into the Fire as fuel,’ (40:71-72).

As for their condition of coming to their [i.e. saints] graves and calling them to fulfill their needs, deducing as evidence that this is from their karamat; then, if their arrival is with the intention to supplicate near their grave and tawassul through them, there is no harm, just as ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) performed tawassul through Sayyiduna Al-‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him), because there is success in supplication in the places of the righteous.

As for their condition of believing in effectuation (ta’thir) from them, and that they have discretion in fulfilling their needs, as the pre-Islamic Arabs and ignorant Sufis do, while calling them and seeking aid from them, this is from the abominable acts because when discretion is negated from the living – as has preceded – how can it be established for the dead?!”

[12] ‘Allamah Muhammad Kamil ibn Mustafa al-Tarabulusi al-Ash’ari al-Shadhili[13] (d.1315 AH) writes in his fatawa, “I was asked about a common occurrence among the masses with regards to the vow of a goat or cow for dead awliya saying: ‘O Shaykh! O Badawi! If I get relief, or if my patient is relieved or if my lost item returns, then I will owe you a ram or a bull or a sheep’. Is this lawful or not?

The answer is: It is not lawful. It is mentioned in Al-Durr al-Mukhtar under the discussion of vows in the Book of Fasting: ‘And know that indeed the vows (nadhr) made to the dead by the majority of the lay-masses and what dirhams, candles, oil and their likes are taken at the mausoleums of the noble awliya to gain proximity to them, this is baseless and haram by consensus, as they don’t intend to spend them on needy people. People are heavily involved in such practices, especially in our times.’ The commentator of Al-Durr al-Mukhtar, Ibn ‘Abidin says [quoting Al-Bahr al-Ra’iq]: ‘[[His saying: this is baseless and haram]] on account of a few reasons. Among them is that it is a vow to the creation and a vow to the creation is not permissible because this is a [form of] worship and worship should only be for the creator; and among them is that the person being promised is dead and the dead cannot own; and among them is that  he thinks that the dead person has discretion (tasarruf)  in issues beside Allah Most High. And his belief in that is kufr, oh Allah, except if he says, “Oh Allah, surely I promise you — if you cure my illness, or return me my lost possession, or fulfill my need — that I shall feed the poor, who are at the door of Sayyidah Nafisah, or Imam Shafi’i, or Imam Layth, etc,” from among those things in which there is benefit for the poor, and the vow (nadhr) is to Allah Most High, then such a vow will be valid. The Shaykh mentioned that this is subject to the vow being diverted to those deserving of it who live in its rabat, so it is permissible by this consideration. Later, he transmitted consensus (ijma’) on the prohibition of making a vow to creation, that it will not take place and it will not occupy one’s responsibility. The complete [discussion] can be found therein [Hashiyah Ibn ‘Abidin], referencing Al-Bahr al-Ra’iq [of ‘Allamah ibn Nujaym al-Misri]. And Allah knows best!

Note: That which the masses and the rural scholars do is shirk. That is, taking oath on the grave of a wali with the belief that if one takes an oath on it, and breaks [it], [the wali] will take recompense from his body, wealth and children. This is just as the idolaters used to believe that whoever takes an oath on idols and breaks [the oath], they will harm him and do with him what they will do. May Allah protect us! The jurist who instructs [the one taking an oath] to do this with the belief in what was mentioned, he falls under the [same] ruling as the one who took the oath [i.e. shirk]. We seek Allah’s safety. [It is found] in the noble hadith, according to what [Shah Wali Allah] al-Hindi quoted in Hujjat Allah al-Balighah, ‘One who swears by anyone except Allah has committed shirk.’ [Shah Wali Allah] said: ‘Some people have understood it as a severity and harshness in warning; but the reality is that it applies to those who from amongst them believe in the causative effect [of such an oath], for thereupon he will be a true polytheist – and there is no power, nor might, but with Allah!’”  (Fatawa Kamiliyyah, p.241 – Provided by Mufti Husain Kadodia)

He writes at another place, “I say: it is not hidden what has been the consequence of the common people revering the graves of awliya’ and drawing covers over them of great harm to their beliefs. They believe with respect to the saints in their power to cause effect along with Allah, so much so that they stopped making vows for Allah, despite this being something established., and [instead], they increasingly began making vows for saints and seeking their closeness, and they abandoned taking oaths on Allah until this practice became almost nonexistent amongst them, and they do not dare take an oath on them [i.e. the saints] because they believe that if one will not fulfill his oaths taken in the name of a wali, he will cause harm to his body, wealth and children. This is shirk, may Allah protect us! Do you not see what the author of Hujjat Allah al-Balighah [Shah Waliullah al-Dahlawi] reported, that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: ‘Whoever takes an oath for other than Allah then indeed he has committed shirk’. He said: ‘Some of them have understood it as a warning and emphasis. But it is not so, as the hadith is upon its apparent meaning when they take an oath with the belief that the saint can cause them harm in their bodies and wealth.’

I heard some knowledgeable and pious Ottoman qadis saying: ‘If I had the power to demolish the domes of saints, I would have demolished them entirely,’ as did Sayyiduna ‘Umar bin al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) with the tree under which Ba’yat [al-Ridwan] took place, when it was reported to him that some people visit it and pray near it, for he uprooted it from its root, lest the common people get affected by it. It is mentioned in the Sahih from Sayyiduna Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) that the identity of the tree was concealed. They [the scholars] said: [this was] so that people do not fall into temptation because of it after the goodness that occurred beneath it. Had it remained, it would not be safe from the ignorant masses revering it until they may believe that it possesses the power to benefit and harm, just like we observe now in that which is less than it. Sayyiduna Ibn ‘Umar alluded to this in his statement: ‘It was kept hidden as a mercy from Allah Most High.’ Ibn Sa’d narrated with an authentic chain from Nafi’ that it was reported to Sayyiduna ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) that some people visit the tree and pray near it. He warned the people and later ordered it to be chopped off, and so it was done.” (Fatawa Kamiliyyah, p.264-265 – Provided by Mufti Husain Kadodia)

[13] And Imam Shah Rafi’ al-Din Muhaddith Dahlawi (d.1233 AH), the son of Shah Waliullah Dahalwi, writes in refutation of the polytheistic practices, “And Mushrikin resort to polytheistic acts in the matter of [assigning] partial control (juzwi tasarruf) of the universe [to the prophets, saints, etc.] such as increasing sustenance, bestowing children, averting sickness, making the souls subservient and things of that sort. This is nothing but clear shirk – there cannot be an excuse [for such beliefs].” (Fatawa Shah Rafi al-Din, p.7, from Tanqid Matin, Sarfaraz Khan Safdar)

[14] Hafiz Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali (d.795 AH) writes in his book Kalimat al-Ikhlas, “The analysis of this meaning and its explanation is that the saying of the servant ‘there is no god but Allah’ requires that there is no god for him but Allah. And a god is one who is obeyed and not disobeyed; due to His lofty status, He is honored, loved and feared; He is one from whom one hopes, trusts or places reliance on;  He is one who is invoked (su’al) and to Whom supplication (du`a)  is made – and no one deserves all these things save Allah. Therefore, if anyone ascribes any partner in any of these matters which are exclusive to Allah alone (Khasa’is al-Uluhiyyah), it will prove that his sincerity in saying ‘there is no god but Allah’ is stained and his tawhid is defective.” (Kalimat al-Ikhlas, p.18)

It therefore becomes manifest that to make du’a to the creation – the key component in istighathah – is akin to making the creation partners in attributes which are exclusive to Allah (Khasa’is al-Uluhiyyah) alone.

[15] Hakim al-Ummah Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanawi (d.1362 AH) writes, “[Kufr and shirk is] to ask someone for the fulfillment of one’s needs, sustenance and children… To implore someone from a great distance and to think that he must have definitely come to know of it… To recite the name of a particular saint in the form of remembrance or incantations… To say that if Allah and His Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) wish such and such a thing, it will be done…” (Bahishti Zewar, section on Beliefs)

Mawlana Thanawi mentioned in relation to the verse 45 of Surah al-Zumar:

And when Allah is mentioned alone, the hearts of those who do not believe in the Hereafter shrink with aversion, but when those [worshipped] other than Him are mentioned, immediately they rejoice.

“Similar to it is the condition of some ignorant claimant of tasawwuf. That is, at the mention of pure/authentic tawhid they are sickened. And [are delighted to] do istighathah with the awliya’.” (Masa’il al-Suluk min Kalam Malik al-Muluk, p.468)

[16] Dr. Wahbah Mustafa al-Zuhayli, a contemporary Syrian Shafi’i Ash’ari scholar writes in his treatise entitled Al-Bida’ al-Munkarah (Reprehensible Innovations), “One of the more widespread innovations amongst the Muslim laity is seeking istighathah and madad from other than Allah, the Most Exalted, such as the person who says, ‘Oh Rifa’i, Oh Badawi, assist me, or Oh so-and-so, come to my aid’. All of this is a reprehensible innovation, due to the statement of Allah, the Most Exalted, ‘So do not call upon, instead of Allah, that which can neither benefit nor harm you. If you do so, then you are certainly from amongst the wrongdoers’. (Yunus,106)

And [it is further supported by] the statement of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, as reported by Ibn ‘Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him:

‘He said, I was behind the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, on a donkey called Ya’fur, and he said to me, ‘Young man, I shall teach you some words [of advice]: Be mindful of Allah, and Allah will protect you. Be mindful of Allah, and you will find Him in front of you. If you ask, ask of Allah, and if you seek help, seek help from Allah.’” (Musnad Ahmad, Sunan Tirmidhi)

After imploring and seeking help has been restricted to being directed only towards Allah in such a manner, how then can it be said, ‘I beseech so-and-so for help’. The condition of the ignorant and the laity is indeed strange.

Istighathah is not the same as tawassul (intercession), for it is seeking from the Creation that which only the creator is capable of, and tawassul is seeking from Allah by means of His creation. The tawassul that is established from the sunnah is through the living and not the dead, and through one’s righteous deeds, as is the meaning of Allah, the Most Exalted’s, statement, ‘Oh you who believe, be conscious of Allah and seek means (wasilah) towards him’. (Al-Ma’idah, 35) An example of this is the story of the three people who were trapped in a cave when a boulder descended from the mountain and blocked the entrance of their cave, so they supplicated to Allah by means of their righteous deeds, and a third of the boulder budged at the end of each man’s supplication until the entrance was open, allowing them to exit. (Sahih Muslim)” (Al-Bida’ al-Munkarah, p.31-32)

[17] ‘Allamah Qadi Thana’ullah Panipati (d.1225 AH) writes, “To prostrate before the graves of the prophets and saints, to circumambulate around them, to invoke them [for help], or to make offerings to the inhabitants of graves is haram; rather some of these matters lead to kufr. The Messenger of Allah, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, cursed the people who do such things and forbade the Ummah from doing them, and ordered us not to make his grave an idol.” (Ma la Budda Minhu, p.80)

He writes at another place, “It is recommended to go to Uhud early on Thursday and to visit its martyrs and to begin with the grave of Hamzah, may Allah be pleased with him, the uncle of the Prophet, and leader of the martyrs. During his visit, an intelligent person should be careful to avoid innovations in greetings, like touching and kissing the grave, walking in a circle around it, asking from the person buried there, and praying at it because what is prescribed is supplication and asking forgiveness for them. As for asking for something from them and taking oaths by them to Allah Almighty; that is misguidance and innovation (by the agreement of the Imams of the believers). None of the Companions did that. The Imams agree that when one wants to make supplication, he should face the qiblah and not face the grave.” (Ma la Budda Minhu, p.215)

[18] Imam Shah ‘Abd al-Qadir Muhaddith Dahlawi (d. 1242 AH), the son of Shah Waliullah Dahlawi, defines shirk, saying, “Shirk is to ascribe any attribute of Allah to anything else, such as believing that someone knows everything or has [been given] the ability to do whatever he wants or that our benefit or harm is in his control, or prostrating to someone and asking him to fulfill one’s needs, believing he has [been given] the ability to do so.” (Mawdah al-Qur’an, p.22)

In this quote he has refuted the deviant concepts of istighathah, hadir nadir, ‘ilm al-ghayb and mukhayyir al-kull.

[19] ‘Allamah ‘Abd al-Rahman Abu Shamah al-Shafi’i (d.655 AH), the teacher of Imam Nawawi (d.676 AH), writes in his book Al-Ba’ith ala’ Inkar Al-Bid’ah wa ‘l-Hawadith, p.100-101, “…Then these innovations and ugly invented matters are of two types.  The first is that which the laymen and the specialists both understand to be an innovated matter.  It could be an unlawful act or an undesired act. The other type is that which most people – excluding those who are protected by Allah – consider to be an act of worship, getting close to Allah, obedience, and a Sunnah.  We will not spend a lot of time discussing the first type because there is no need for a lengthy discussion when the participant already knows that this is not an established practice of Islam.  However, we will give a few examples of the second type in which many ignorant laymen have fallen in.  These people have discarded the divine code of Islam and have abandoned following the scholars of Islam… Other examples of this type include the widespread practice which Satan has beautified for the masses in which they make walls, pillars, and lanterns in specific places in a city.  A person tells them that he saw in a dream that a pious person and a friend of Allah is buried there. They start honoring these pious people and being particular about this, despite the fact that they are neglecting the obligations of Islam and the Sunnah practices.  They believe that they are doing good by venerating these pious people. Then, they take this to a more extreme level until the veneration of these places overcomes their hearts.  Thereafter, they start honoring the places themselves and they begin hoping that sick people will be cured and their needs will be fulfilled by making oaths at these places.  These areas tend to be between fountains, trees, walls, and rocks.

In the city of Damascus – may Allah preserve it – there are many such places, including a specific spring near the Tawma gate, a specific pillar near the ‘small gate,’ and the accursed dry tree near Bab al-Nasr – may Allah facilitate the cutting of this tree and uproot it. How similar are these places to the thorn tree which is mentioned in the books of hadith related to the battle of Hunayn.”

[20] ‘Allamah Murtada al-Zabidi al-Bilgrami (d.1205 AH ), a student of Imam Shah Waliullah Dahlawi, said, “It is atrocious for believers to present their needs to [anyone] other than Allah Most High despite their knowledge of His Oneness and His uniqueness in [the attribute of] Lordship, and they hear His Most High saying: ‘Is Allah not enough for His slave?’ (39:36).” (Ithafus Sadah Al-Muttaqin, 9:498)

[21] Shaykh Sayyid  ‘Abd al-Rab Husayni al-Dahlawi (d.1305 AH), a khalifah of ‘Allamah Shah Ishaq Muhaddith al-Dahlawi[14] (d.1263 AH) and founder of Madrasah ‘Abd al-Rab in Delhi, writes, “… Now, for him to take the name of tariqah is haram. Does he believe that listening to flutes in the ‘urs [annual festivals held at the shrines to commemorate the death anniversaries of Sufi saints] and falling unconscious in them; prostrating to, kissing and circumambulating the graves of the pious; becoming the murid of a drum-beating faqir; having faith that the souls of the pious are hadir nadir; and to seeking aid from them is tariqah? I seek refuge with Allah. I seek forgiveness from Allah. There is no power to do good or evil except with Allah, the High, the Great. This is the deception of the accursed Satan, the vanity of the disobedient soul. It is haram for such a person to take the name of haqiqah and ma’rifah (gnosis) because he has not recognized Godly Glory nor recognized the Muhammadan Reality. How can such a person be bestowed with irfan?” (Risalah Irshad-i-Pir, from Hayat Shah Ishaq, p.173)

[22] Shaykh Sayyid Ahmad al-Rifa’i al-Husayni (d.578 AH) writes in Al-Burhan al-Mu’ayyad, p.6, “The worst of whims is to see others [besides Allah] and to busy oneself from the Creator with creation. According to a sane person, what is busying oneself in other than Him? Believing that others have influence in matters, whether little or much, partial or whole, is polytheism. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said to `Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him): ‘Oh child! I will teach you some words: Be mindful of Allah and He will be mindful of you. Be mindful of Allah, and you will find Him in front of you. When you ask, ask Allah and when you seek help, seek help from Allah. Know that if the whole community were to gather together to help you with something, they would not help you but with something Allah had written for you. And if they were to gather together to harm you with something, they would not harm you except with something Allah had written for you. The pens have been lifted and the pages have dried’.”

And he writes on p.28-29, “When you seek aid (ista’antum) from the servants of Allah and His friends (awliya’), do not acknowledge help and aid from them as it is polytheism (shirk), but ask [Allah] to fulfill your needs through His love for them. There are many unkempt and dusty people with rags who are pushed aside from doors; if they swear by Allah, Allah will fulfill their promise. Allah empowered them in the existents, and overturned for them the entities, and He made them say by His permission to something ‘be’ and it would occur – kun fayakun. ‘Isa, peace be upon him, created birds out of clay with Allah’s permission and made the dead alive with Allah’s permission. The trunk [in the mosque] yearned for our beloved and our Prophet, the master of the chiefs of the prophets, upon him the best of blessings and peace; the stones saluted him and Allah united in him the miracles which were dispersed in the [earlier] prophets and messengers; and the secrets of his miracles continue in the awliya’ of his Ummah. Thus, for the awliya’ they are karamat that continue. The miracle of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) also continues. O my son, O my brother, when you say: ‘O Allah, I beg You through Your mercy,’ it is as though you said: ‘I beg you through the wilayah of your servant Shaykh Mansur and other awliya,’ because wilayah is a specialty with which He favors by His mercy whomever He likes.”

[23] Shaykh Bayazid al-Bastami (d.261 AH) is reported to have said, “One created being calling another such being for help is just like a prisoner calling his inmate for help.” (Ruh al-Ma’ani, 6:128)

[24] Responding to those who declare the hadith of Sayyiduna Ibn Umar[15] a fabrication only because some innovators use it as a proof for seeking aid from the creation, ‘Allamah Habib al-Rahman al-A’zami (d.1992 C.E) writes, “In particular, some innovators (mubtad’iah) present it as a proof that istighathah from ghayrullah is valid. And whatever is presented by the innovators as proof of istighathah, we see it imperative that you say: it is fabricated!” (Al-Albani Shudhudhuh wa Akhta’uh, p.41)

[25] ‘Allamah ‘Abd al-Haq Haqqani Dahlawi (d.1336 AH) writes, “Fiqhi Issues: From this verse [You alone do we worship, and from You alone do we seek aid], this point is established that worshiping any other than Allah is haram whomsoever it may be, and neither is prostrating to someone permissible, nor bowing down. The Companions (Allah be pleased with them) submitted, ‘O Messenger of Allah! We wish to prostrate to you but you have forbidden us.’ (Mishkat) And neither is it lawful to fast with someone’s name nor is it permissible to give charity in the name of other than Allah. Neither is it lawful to circumambulate any other house like the Ka’bah nor is to head to it wearing ihram. It is even impermissible to slaughter an animal with the name of other than Allah. And similarly, seeking aid [above the means] from other than Allah is unlawful, as well as considering someone as fulfiller of needs (qadi al-hajat) and remover of afflictions (dafi’ al-baliyyat).” (Tafsir Haqqani, 2:33)

[26] ‘Allamah Ibrahim Bin Mar’i al-Maliki (d.1106 AH) writes, “[The Prophet’s (upon him peace) saying:] ‘When you seek help,’ i.e. you seek help in a matter from the matters of the world or religion – for this [reason], the object [of the verb] is omitted which indicates generality. [His saying:] ‘then, seek help from Allah,’ as He has power over all things, while [all] besides Him have no power over anything. Help is sought from one who is able to give help. And as for the one who is dependent on his master, unable to implement what he wishes for his own self, let alone others, how can he be worthy of being asked for help or his means relied upon? One who is unable to benefit and repel harm from himself, he is even more incapable [of benefitting or repelling harm] from others. If only man would humble himself! Thus, [the example of] a creation seeking help from another creation is like a prisoner seeking help from another prisoner. So, do not seek help but from your Master, for He [alone] is your Guide in your latter and former [lives]. How can you seek help from a slave despite your knowledge of his helplessness? How can a person who is unable to save himself from calamity save others of the children of his genus from it?  Do not seek assistance from anyone besides Allah, for indeed He is the Protector and Helper. Do not hold fast [to anything] besides His rope as He is the Mighty and Powerful.” (Futuhat al-Wahbiyyah bi Sharh al-Arba’yan Nawawiyyah, p.184)

[27] We will close by presenting the verdict of Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Aziz bin Dabbagh[16] – who is held in high regard by the proponents of istighathah – on this topic.

Shaykh Ahmad bin Mubarrak al-Lam’ati (d.1156 AH) asked his teacher Shaykh ‘Abd al-`Aziz bin Dabbagh (d.1132 AH) concerning the people who ask the saints for help as is mentioned in Ibriz[17], p.249-250,

“And I asked him: ‘Why do people seek aid (yastaghithuna) by mentioning the pious ones instead of [turning to] Allah?  [And] when a person is keen in swearing an oath; you observe him say: ‘By the right of Sayyidi So-and-So!’ like Sayyidi `Abd al-Qadir al-Jaylani or Sayyidi Ya’zi or Sayyidi Abu ‘l-`Abbas Sabti and others – may Allah benefit us through them! And if one wishes to have someone swear an oath and to confirm his oath, he says: ‘Swear to me by Sayyidi So-and-So!’ And if he is afflicted by some loss and he wishes to implore, like those who undertake to beg from the people, he invokes the name of Sayyidi So-and-So. In doing all this they are cut off from Allah— mighty and glorious is He —and if it’s said to them: ‘Call upon Allah as your intermediary or swear oaths by Him’ or something to that effect, these words make no impression on them. So what’s the reason for this?’

In response, he [‘Abd al-‘Aziz bin Dabbagh] said, may Allah be pleased with him, “The people of Diwan from the friends of Allah did this deliberately due to the intense darkness of [people’s] essences, and because of the great number of those cut-off  from Allah— mighty and glorious is He —whose essences have become wicked. The friends of Allah love that the essences of those who remember their Master and their Lord, the Most High, are pure. This is because Allah, the Exalted, answers the one who supplicates while he is devoted completely to Him inwardly at the time of supplication. The supplication is answered in two ways: either He gives him what he asked, or he is shows the secret of the [divine] decree of rejection if it is withheld. This latter happens only to the true friends of Allah and not to the deprived and distant ones. For if the gloom-laden essence were to turn towards Allah the Sublime with all its vessels and all its substances and it asked Him for something which He refused and He didn’t inform it about the secret of the divine decree behind the refusal, it might experience doubt concerning Allah the Sublime’s existence and fall prey to something more calamitous and more bitter than not having its request fulfilled. Therefore, it is of great benefit what the people of Diwan resorted to by linking people’s thoughts to the pious individuals. Should they then experience doubt about whether the upright are friends of Allah, this would not harm them.

Explaining this further, he said (may Allah be pleased with him), “Another indication for you of the large number of people cut off from Allah, and the great amount of darkness in their essences, is that you observe, for example, a person leaves his house and takes about twenty mauzunahs to a grave of a saint in hopes that his requests are answered. How many needy and poor persons, in their way to the grave, asked him for help for Allah’s sake and he did not give them even a single dirham, but he proceeds to the friend of Allah and places the money by his head. Now this is one of the ugliest things that occur. The reason for this is that the charity was not intended for Allah the Most High and, had this been the case, he would have given it to every needy person he met. But since the incentive for them and the motive for bestowing them was the intention of profit for himself and the fulfillment of his own purposes and allotments, he singled out one particular place for them because he imagined profit was attached to that place in both presence and absence.

He also added, may Allah be pleased with him, that I am a witness of what has been gifted to the righteous people from the entrance of Tilimsan to Saqiya al-Hamrah, which was 80 dinars, three hundred and sixty sheep, two cows and seventy bulls, all donated in one day to the pious people, but not even ten dirhams were donated for the sake of Allah the Exalted [i.e. to the poor].

He further explained, may Allah be pleased with him, that this a cause from the causes leading to disconnection from Allah the Most High which has overcome this Ummah without most of them realizing it. There are a total of 366 causes which all derail people from their Lord.

I said:  Do you remember some of these causes now?

He responded saying: Write [this] down:

The first: Gifting to the dead saints, as we stipulated above, and not [giving for] the sake of Allah— mighty and glorious is He.

Second: Taking an intermediary to the righteous through Allah – mighty and glorious is He – so that they fulfill one’s wish. The visitor to the tomb says: ‘I’ve come to you, Oh Sayyidi So-and-So by Allah’s glory, that you fulfill my need (hajat) for me!’ This also causes separation from Allah as the visitor to the tomb has distorted what is required and reversed the matter. He should have taken a means to Allah – mighty and glorious is He – through His friends and not the reverse [i.e. asking directly].

Third: Visiting [the graves of] saints, while the visitor has not done all the obligatory prayers incumbent on him. It is obvious that abandoning what is to be done for Allah to visit a saint is a manifest darkness and an act of disconnection from Allah…”

Dr. ‘Allamah Khalid Mahmud has explained the above quote in Mutali’ah Barelwiyyat. The summary of which is that, according to Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Aziz bin Dabbagh, many of the ignorant from Ahl al-Bid’ah, with darkness in their hearts, were on the verge of leaving Islam, and they did not have anything that would have them labeled a Muslim, but it was not the will of Allah that these people leave Islam openly and become Hindu, [etc]. Therefore, they were left aside not to convert from Islam openly, nor to have the honor of calling Allah the Sublime, since only the one who is pure-hearted receives such a blessing. But those who devour unlawful wealth and who are inherently wicked, they keep on invoking the ones in graves. This is the punishment for those who go astray from the path of tawhid. The people of Diwan, according to Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Aziz bin Dabbagh, had the innovators turn towards the graves and domes so they do not leave Islam openly and nor does the light of tawhid enter their hearts. These people, with darkness in their hearts, if they were to ask Allah directly and their supplication was not answered, it was feared that they would lose hope in Allah Most High and have doubts about Allah’s existence. Instead, they were turned towards the graves for the fulfillment of their needs, and if their supplication was not answered, they would have doubts about the saints and not Allah Most High, and this was thought to be less harmful than doubting Allah, even though it led people to deviation.

See: Istighathah by Ismaeel Nakhuda

See: Istighathah: Seeking aid from other than Allah by Saad Khan


Aap kay Masa’il awr un ka Hal – Shaykh Yusuf Ludhianwi Shahid

Fatawa Rashidiyyah – Imam Rashid Ahmad Gangohi

Guldastah-i-Tawhid – ‘Allamah Sarfaraz Khan Safdar

Itmam al-Burhan fi Radd Tawdih al-Bayan – ‘Allamah Sarfaraz Khan Safdar

Maqalat ‘Uthmani – ‘Allamah Zafar Ahmad ‘Uthmani

Rasa’il Chandpuri – ‘Allamah Sayyid Murtada Hasan Chandpuri

[1] Shaykh Yusuf Ludhianwi Shahid (d.1421 AH) writes, “To consider prophets or saints mutasarrif in umur ghayr ‘adiyyah is shirk.” (Aap kay Masa’il awr un ka Hal, 1:43) ‘Allamah Sayyid Murtada Hasan Chandpuri (d.1370 AH), who Shaykh Zahid al-Kawthari referred to as ‘the eminent teacher’ (al-ustad al-jalil), mentions that to affirm the qudrah and tasarruf of anyone besides Allah in umur ghayr ‘adiyyah is shirk, regardless of whether or not one believes that this was bestowed by Allah. (See: Tawdih al-Murad li man Takhabbat fi ‘l Istimdad, p.611)

[2] According to Sayyiduna Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him), Lat was a pious and generous person who used to mix and give barley (Sattu) to the pilgrims. When he died, people started to gather at his grave and began to worship him. (Bukhari, 2:761; Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 253) What kind of worship was it? Shah Waliullah writes, “And they would ask him for help (yasta’inuna) in the time of hardships.” (Al-Budur al-Bazighah, p.126) Shah Waliullah further writes that this was the reason Allah has declared the polytheists of Makkah as infidels.

[3] He studied the traditional books under the sons of Shah Waliullah, and then became a disciple of Imam Sayyid Ahmad Shahid. 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 ‘Allamah 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 ‘Allamah Shah Isma‘il’s Taqwiyat al-Iman (Nuzhat al-Khawatir, p. 963)

[4] See Mansur ibn Yunus al-Bahuti

[5] According to Tafsir Ibn Kathir, however, Wadd was the name of Sayyiduna Sheeth (Seth) (may the peace of Allah be upon him) and the other four were his sons.

[6] He is Ahmad Din (1217 AH – 1286 AH) bin Hafiz Nur Hayat bin Hafiz Muhammad Shifa’ bin Hafiz Nur Muhammad Bughwi. He traveled to Delhi, at the age of eight, with his elder brother, ‘Allamah Ghulam Muhyi al-Din Bughwi (1203 AH – 1273 AH), for higher learning. There they studied under the likes of Imam Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Dahlawi and ‘Allamah Shah Ishaq Muhaddith Dahlawi. He is the author of many books like Hashiyyah Jalali, Hashiyyah Sharh Mulla, Mas’alah Ghina’, and Dalil al-Mushrikin (on the enormity of shirk). (Hada’iq al-Hanafiyyah, p.504-505) Mawlana Faqir Muhammad Jhelumi writes in Hada’iq al-Hanafiyyah, p.504, “However, the extent of the spread of the rational (ma’qul) and transmitted sciences (manqul) in Punjab was not done by anyone as much as by these brothers. Thousands of people graduated and received benefit at their hands. It seemed as if no person of knowledge remained deprived of being their student, some of them directly and others by being connected to their students.”

[7] ‘Allamah Ahmad Din Bughwi has divided shirk into 20 types. (1) Shirk  fi ‘l-dhat. (2) Shirk fi ‘l-‘ilm. (3) Shirk fi ‘l-mashiyyat. (4) Shirk fi ‘l-tasarruf. (5) Shirk fi ‘l-qudrah. (6) Shirk fi ‘l-‘ibadah. (7) Shirk fi ‘l-‘adat. (8) Shirk fi ‘l-nazr. (9) Shirk fi ‘l-tasmiyyah. (10) Shirk fi ‘l-half. (11) Shirk fi ‘l-zabh. (12) Shirk fi ‘l-tathir. (13) Shirk fi ‘l-isti’anah (seeking aid). (14) Shirk fi ‘l-nida’ (calling). (15) Shirk fi ‘l-bismillah. (16) Shirk fi ‘l-tayrah. (17) Shirk fi ‘l-akhbar. (18) Shirk fi ‘l-tasawwur. (19) Shirk fi ‘l-tama’im wa ‘l-raqi. (20) Shirk al-asghar.

[8] He is Sun’ Allah bin Sun’ Allah al-Halabi al-Makki al-Hanafi. He is an orator, jurist and muhaddith of high stature. He has a number of authorizations to narrate hadith. He authored Sayfullah ‘ala man Kadhiba ‘ala Awliya’ Allah and Iksir al-Tuqa ‘ala Sharh al-Multaqa. (Hadiyyat al-‘Arifin, 1:428; Mu’jam al-Mu’allifin, 5:24)

[9] As Allah Most High said: “Whenever Zakariyya visited her at the place of worship, he found food with her. He said: ‘Maryam, from where did you have this?’ She said: ‘It is from Allah. Surely, Allah gives whom He wills without measure,’ (3:37).”

[10] This is mentioned in Sahih al-Bukhari (3805), chapter of the Merit of Sayyiduna Usayd bin Hudayr and Sayyiduna ‘Abbas ibn Bishr (may Allah be pleased with them). Sayyiduna Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates: ‘Usayd bin Hudhayr and a man from Ansar (the Helpers) went out in a very dark night, when suddenly there was a light in front of them, and when they parted, the light also parted’. Imam Muslim narrated a hadith in the virtue of Sayyiduna Usayd bin Hudayr in his Sahih (796), chapter: ‘Descent of peace while reciting the Qur’an’. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: ‘You should have kept on reciting, Ibn Hudhayr.’ The angels descended like a canopy with what seemed to be lamps in it, and he  (Allah bless him and give him peace)  said: “Those were the angels who listened to you; and if you had continued reciting, the people would have seen them in the morning and they would not be hidden from them’. The original story was quoted in Sahih al-Bukhari (5011), Chapter of the Virtue of Al-Kahf (the cave), but the hadith of Bukhari (5018) says clearly that he would recite Surah al-Baqarah. Hafiz Ibn Hajr explained it that the incident might have taken place more than one time. (Fath al-Bari, 9:57)

[11] This was also elucidated by others such as Imam Rashid Ahmad Gangohi, Mawlana Sayyid Murtada Hasan Chandpuri, etc. It says in Fatawa Rashidiyyah, p.200, “Since istimdad is a mushtarik (common) word, some adopted one [meaning] while others opted for the other.” Meaning that sayings such as, ‘O, so and so, please make du’a to Allah concerning my needs’; certain scholars referred to this as istighathah/istimdad. ‘Allamah Ibn Hajr Makki (d.974 AH), ‘Allamah Taj al-Din Sukbi (d.771 AH), etc. can be cited here as an example. They never endorsed directly seeking aid from the creation.

[12] The author distinguishes between actual (bi l-fi’l) means and potential (bi l-quwwah) means. The first is where the means are directly accessible, and can be utilized to attain the objective. Potential means are also effective means but they are not directly accessible in the circumstance. The author says that only actual means can be asked for help, but potential means cannot be asked for help.

[13] He is Muhammad Kamil ibn Mustafa ibn Muhammad al-Tarabulusi al-Ash’ari al-Shadhili, a jurist from amongst the people of western Tripoli and one of the most outstanding scholars of Libya. He was born in Tripoli in the year 1244 AH and studied in Jam’iah al-Azhar. There he studied the three madhahib other than the Hanbali madhhab in depth. Likewise, he benefited from the senior scholars of Al-Azhar, like Shaykh Muhammad ‘Illish, Shaykh Hasan al-‘Adawi (d.1882 AH), and Shaykh Ahmad ‘Abd al-Rahim al-Tahtawi (d.1885 AH). He assumed responsibility for giving fatwa in Tripoli and he taught there, until a large number of students graduated at his hands. He died in Tripoli in the year 1315 AH. He has a super commentary on Tafsir al-Baydawi entitled Majmu’ah al-‘Abd al-Dhalil ‘ala rub’ Anwar al-Tanzil, and other works, including Fath al Wadud fi hall Nazm al-Maqsud, Kulliyat fi ‘l-Mantiq, and others.

[14] ‘Allamah Shah Ishaq Muhaddith al-Dahlawi has divided shirk into 13 categories. (1) Shirk  fi ‘l-dhat. (2) Shirk fi ‘l-‘ibadah. (3) Shirk fi ‘l-isti’anah (seeking aid). (4) Shirk fi ‘l-‘ilm. (5) Shirk fi ‘l-qudrah. (6) Shirk fi l’-tasarruf. (7) Shirk fi ‘l-khalq. (8) Shirk fi ‘l-nida’ (calling). (9) Shirk fi l’-qawl. (10) Shirk fi ‘l-tasmiyyah. (11) Shirk fi ‘l-zabh. (12) Shirk fi ‘l-nazr. (13) Shirk fi ‘l tafwidh umur al-khala’iq. (Risalah Shu’ab al-Iman, from Hayat Shah Ishaq, p.142)

[15] Sayyiduna Ibn ‘Umar had numbness in his leg, whereupon a man said to him: “Remember the most beloved of people to you”, so he said: “Ya Muhammad”. (Adab al-Mufrad, hadith No. 964)

[16] According to the chronicler, Shaykh Al-Qadiri (d.1187 AH), a student of Shaykh Ahmad al-Lam’ati, Shaykh Al-Dabbagh was unschooled (ummi), though not illiterate, and yet, he was significantly devoid of madrasah education. Moreover, it was claimed that he [Al-Dabbagh] received training from shaykhs that no one is acquainted with, shaykhs that neither we nor anyone else we have come across.  (See Introduction to English translation of Al-Ibriz by John O’ Kane and Bernd Radtke, Brill – Boston.)

[17] Translation compared with English translation of John O’ Kane and Bernd Radtke, Brill – Boston.

Translation of Nur wa Bashar

April 20, 2012

English translation of Nur wa Bashar by Shaykh Sarfaraz Khan Safdar

Knowledge of the Five – The keys of the unseen

April 19, 2012

Compiled by Saad Khan

In the following essay, we will categorically establish from explicit verses of the Qur’an, their respective commentaries, authentic hadiths, and statements of the Companions (Sahabah) and erudite scholars, that the leader of all the Messengers, seal of the Prophets, Sayyiduna Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) was neither given the knowledge of “what was and what shall be” (ma kana wama yakun)[1], nor knowledge of the Five Things. We will further establish that he was not ‘alim al-ghayb (Knower of the Unseen).

Allah has given complete knowledge of Shari‘ah rulings (ahkam) to His prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as well as some knowledge of the unseen existents (akwan ghaybiyyah).

This was explained by Shaykh al-Islam Mawlana Shabbir Ahmad ‘Uthmani (d.1369 AH) in the following words, “Remember that the matters of the unseen are either related to the laws of Shari’ah or to the cosmic issues (akwan). These cosmic issues are either zamani (temporal) or makani (place-related).The temporal issues are then divided into the past, present, and future. The knowledge of the laws of Shari’ah in all its entirety is awarded to the prophets. This knowledge has been explained and categorized by the intelligent ones of the Ummah. As for the knowledge dealing with principles of cosmic issues, Allah Most High has made Himself exclusive to this knowledge. Yes, in accordance to people’s capabilities, He has made certain people aware of only a few selected issues.” (Fawa’id al-Qur’an, p.522, from The Concept of Nabuwwah and Risalah, p.18)


Allah Most High says,

Verily, with Allah is knowledge of the Hour. He sends down rain, and knows that which is in the wombs. No soul knows what it will earn tomorrow, and no soul knows in what land it will die. Verily, Allah is Knower, Aware. (Luqman, 34)

This verse suggests that knowledge of these five things is restricted to Divine Knowledge. What is the reason for specifying these five? ‘Allamah Muhammad Sarfaraz Khan Safdar (d.1430 AH) mention two reasons for this:

First, these five matters were mentioned in reply to a question posed specifically in regards to them. Hafiz Ibn Kathir, ‘Allamah Husayn bin Mas’ud Baghawi al-Shafi’i, Shaykh al-Islam Badr al-Din al-‘Ayni, ‘Allamah Jalal al-Din Suyuti, Imam Sayyid Shihab al-Din Mahmud Alusi al-Hanafi, and Mulla Jiwan Jaunpuri al-Hanafi (may Allah have mercy on them) mention that the reason for its revelation was that Warith ibn ‘Amr, a Bedouin, came to the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and asked about the Hour and its timing. He further asked, “Our lands are dry, so when will it rain? I left my wife while she was pregnant, so what will she give birth to? I know what I earned today, so what will I earn tomorrow? I know in what land I was born, so in what land will I die?” The verse was revealed in reply to his questions, clarifying that these five things are known only by Allah. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 3:455; Ma’alim al-Tanzil, 3:156; ‘Umdat al-Qari, 11:519; Durr al-Manthur, 5:170; Ruh al-Ma’ani, 21:97; Al-Tafsirat al-Ahmadiyyah, p.396)

The reply was limited to these five things because the question was specifically about them; otherwise, there are innumerable things of which the complete knowledg is only with Allah Most High.

Imam Fakhr al-Din al-Razi (d.606AH) writes, “According to some commentators of the Qur’an, Allah Most High in this verse negated knowledge of the five matters for anyone besides Him. This is true, but it is not the objective [of the verse], because Allah knows [even] the single atom that was in the pile of sand at the time of the flood [of Nuh (peace be upon him)] and which was swept by the wind from the east to the west, time and time again. Allah knows where it is and no one besides Him knows it.” (Al-Tafsir al-Kabir, 6:503)

Adding to this in Tafsir al-Lubab fi ‘Ulum al-Kitab, 31:34, Imam Siraj al-Din ibn ‘Adil al-Hanbali al-Dimashqi (d.880 AH) writes, “Allah Most High in this verse negated knowledge of the five matters for anyone besides Him. This is true, but it is not the objective [of the verse] since Allah knows [even] the single atom that was in the pile of sand at the time of the flood [of Nuh (peace be upon him)] and was swept by the wind from the east to the west, time and time again. Allah knows where it is and none besides Him knows it. Hence, there is no reason to mention these things specifically. The truth in this regard is that we say: since Allah said, ‘Fear your Lord and fear a day when no father will help his son,’ (31:33) and He said that it will come to pass in His statement, ‘Verily, Allah‘s promise is true,’ (31:33) it is as if though a speaker asked, ‘Then when will this day come to pass?’ and in reply it was said, ‘This knowledge is [such] that it cannot be possessed by other than Allah, but it will [certainly] come to pass’.”

Second, Hafiz Ibn Hajr al-‘Asqalani and ‘Allamah Badr al-Din ‘Ayni (may Allah have mercy on them) both write that the reason for specifying these five things is that because worlds are of five types:

  1. ‘Alam al-Hayawan (the animal world) – ‘what is in the wombs’ is a reference to this.[2]
  2. ‘Alam al-Nabatat (the plant world) – ‘He sends down rain’ refers to this.
  3. Alam al-Sufla or ‘Alam al-Barzakh (the underworld or the intermediary world) – ‘what land it will die in’ refers to this.
  4. ‘Alam al-Zaman (the world of time) – ‘what it will earn tomorrow’ refers to this.
  5. ‘Alam al-Akhirah (otherworld) – ‘knowledge of the Hour’ is a reference to this. (Fath al-Bari, 13:309; ‘Umdat al-Qari, 11:519)

Mulla Jiwan al-Hanafi (d.1130 AH) writes, “If you were to ask: ‘What is the use of mentioning these five [unseen matters] when all other unseen matters are just like them?’  I say: ‘The use is that these five are major unseen matters because they are the keys to the unseen (ghayb). For example, if someone knows what will happen tomorrow, he will come to know of the death of A, birth of B, victory of C, defeat of D, advent of E and other things that will happen tomorrow (and nothing will remain hidden). Analogize [the remaining four] to this.” (AlTafsirat al-Ahmadiyyah, p.397)

‘Allamah Sarfaraz Safdar writes that it is possible that Allah grants some news of the unseen (akhbar al-ghayb, inba’ al-ghayb) to His closest servants.

Mulla ‘Ali ibn Sultan al-Qari (d.1014 AH) and ‘Allamah Shabbir Ahmad ‘Uthmani write, “If you say: the prophets and saints have related many things from these five, so why the limitation? We say: the limitation is with respect to their wholes (kulliyyat) and not their parts (juz’iyyat).” (Mirqat al-Mafatih sharh Mishkat al-Masabih, 1:66; Fath al-Mulhim, 1:172)

From this explicit statement of Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari and ‘Allamah ‘Uthmani, it is clear that Allah alone possesses encompassing knowledge of these five things. And whatever has been told to the Prophets and saints is only part of this encompassing knowledge.

Commenting on this verse, Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari also writes: “’Verily, Allah is [the] Knower’, i.e. of these things, of their parts and their wholes, in particular, and of other than these [five] in general. ‘Being] “Aware” [means He knows] of their internal aspects just as He knows their external aspects, or its meaning is: He gives information about some of these [five] from their parts (juz’iyyat) to some of His select servants; however, He has told [us] in several places of His Book that the knowledge of the Hour is from that which Allah has exclusive possession of.” (Mirqat al-Mafatih sharh Mishkat al-Masabih, 1:67)

This statement of Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari shows that when it comes to the knowledge of the Hour, it is an exception to the above rule. Since this knowledge does not consist of “parts”, its knowledge belongs exclusively to Allah, as clarified in many verses of the Qur’an.


In Hadith, these five things have been referred to as mafatih al-ghayb (the keys of the unseen), of which the Qur’an says, “With Him are the keys of the unseen, none but He knows them” (Qur’an, 6:59).

Narrated Sayyiduna ‘Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him), “One day the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) appeared before the people and a man came to him and said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, what is iman (faith)?’ He replied: ‘That you believe in Allah, His angels, His Books, His meeting, His Messengers and that you believe in the Resurrection.’ He said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, what is Islam (submission).’ He replied: ‘Islam is that you worship Allah and do not associate anything with Him, you establish the prescribed Salah, you pay the obligatory Zakah and you fast during Ramadan.’ He said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, what is ihsan (excellence)?’ He replied: ‘That you worship Allah as if you see Him, and if you see Him not that He sees you.’ He said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, when is the Hour?’ He replied: ‘The one who is asked about it knows no more than the inquirer. I will, however, narrate to you some of its portents: when the slave-girl will give birth to her master, this is one of its portents; when the naked, barefooted would become the chiefs of people, this is one of its portents; when the shepherds of black camels would compete in high-rise buildings, this is one of its portents. The knowledge of the Hour is among the five which none knows but Allah.’ Then he (Allah bless him and grant him peace) recited: ‘Verily, with Allah is knowledge of the Hour. He sends down rain, and knows that which is in the wombs. No soul knows what it will earn tomorrow, and no soul knows in what land it will die. Verily, Allah is Knower, Aware,’ (31:34). Abu Hurayrah (Allah be pleased with him) said: ‘Then the person turned back and the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: ‘Bring that man back to me.’ They went to bring him back, but they saw nothing. Upon this the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) remarked: ‘This was Jibril, he came to teach the people their religion’.” Abu ‘Abdullah said: “He [the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace)] considered all that as a part of faith.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, 1:12; Sahih al-Muslim, 1:29; Sunan al-Nisa’i, 2:229; Sunan al-Tirmidhi, 2:85; Sunan Ibn Majah, p.302; Sunan Abi Dawud, 2:289; Musnad Imam al-A’zam, 1:174)

‘Allamah Sarfaraz writes that this hadith has also been narrated by nine other Companions – Sayyiduna ‘Umar bin al-Khattab, Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar, Sayyiduna Anas, Sayyiduna Jarir bin ‘Abdullah, Sayyiduna Ibn ‘Abbas, Sayyiduna Abu ‘Amir Ash’ari, Sayyiduna Abu Musa al-Ash’ari, Sayyiduna ‘Abd al-Rahman bin Ghanam, and Sayyiduna Abu Dhar al-Ghifari (may Allah be pleased with them). After the companions, the narrators are so numerous that it is difficult to count them. There are three things that are to be kept in mind regarding this hadith:

  1. This hadith is absolute (qat’i) proof that the precise timing of the Hour was not given to the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace). Though numerous major and minor signs of the Hour were indeed mentioned by him, these are not under discussion here.[3]
  2. Everything that has been mentioned in this hadith is pure faith (din) because it is clear that the questioner was Sayyiduna Jibril and he came for the purpose of teaching people their religion.  Furthermore, the sub-narrator, Abu ‘Abdullah, exclaimed: “He [the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace)] considered all that as a part of faith.”
  3. This incident is from the last days of the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace), when all religious rulings had been revealed; Sayyiduna Jibril came to strengthen these things in the minds of the people. In the beginning, the identity of Jibril was unknown to Sayyiduna Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) and he came to know of this afterward as the narrations mention.

Now we will further reflect over these points in detail as explained by ‘Allamah Sarfaraz Khan Safdar.

First Point: When the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was asked about the time of the Hour, he replied that the one questioned has no more knowledge than the questioner. The scholars of hadith have mentioned two meanings for this:

First, both the questioner and the answerer are equal in not knowing.

Hafiz Ibn Hajr al-‘Asqalani (d.852 AH) writes, “However, it means being equal in not having knowledge of it [i.e. the Hour].” (Fath al-Bari, 1:114)

‘Allamah Badr al-Din al-‘Ayni (d.855 AH) states, “Since they are both equal in not having knowledge of it, whether questioning or questioned, they are all the same.” (‘Umdat al-Qari, 1:340)

‘Allamah Shihab al-Din Qastallani al-Shafi’i (d.923 AH) explains, “It entails negation of the knowledge of its time, since knowledge of its occurrence is certain and is common knowledge. Although it seemingly denotes equality in knowledge, it nonetheless means that both are equal in knowing that Allah has kept the knowledge of its time only for Himself. [This is evidenced by it] preceding by the statement that [the knowledge of] the Hour is one of the five things which are not known to anyone except Allah.” (Irshad al-Sari, 1:115)

Shaykh al-Islam Zakariyya ibn Muhammad al-Ansari (d.928 AH) writes, “It implies equating the negation of its [i.e. the Hour] knowledge [from both the questioner and the questioned].” (Tuhfat al-Bari, 1:280)

And Hafiz Ibn Kathir (d.774 AH) writes, “I.e. the questioner and the questioned are equal in being unable to comprehend it [the time of the Hour].” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 3:373)

Imam Nawawi (d.676 AH) writes while explaining this narration, “It also implies that it is proper for a scholar, mufti, etc., if he is asked anything which he does not know, to say: “I do not know,” and it will not cause him any disgrace.” (Sharh Sahih al-Muslim, 1:28)

And Mulla ‘Ali Qari states, “This is ma of negation, i.e. the one who was asked about it is not more aware than the questioner. He denied that he is able to be questioned about the matter of the Hour because it is one of the keys of ghayb not known to anyone save Allah.” (Mirqat sharh Mishkat, 1:127)

Shaykh Abu ‘l-Hasan Sindhi al-Hanafi (d.1139 AH) writes, “The statement of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace): ‘The one who is asked about it knows no more than the inquirer’ is an indication that both were equal in not knowing it [i.e. time of the Hour].” (Al-Ta’liq al-Sabih, 1:21)

Shaykh Shah ‘Abd al-Haq Dahlawi (d.1052 AH) writes, “It means ‘I am not more aware than you’ i.e. we are both equal in not knowing; rather, all who question and are questioned [about it] have the same position, since it is not known to anyone besides Allah. Allah Most High has not informed any of the angels or prophets about it.” (Ashi’ath al-Lam’at, 1:45)

Hafiz Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali (d.795 AH) writes, “The words of Jibril: ‘Tell me about the Hour’, to which the Prophet said: ‘The one asked about it knows no more than the one who asks’, meaning that the knowledge of created beings’ about the moment of the Hour is all equal. This indicates that Allah, exalted is He, has exclusive knowledge of it. (Jami’ Al-Ulum wa ‘l-Hikam, p.55)

Second Point: Whatever has been mentioned in this hadith, in which the knowledge of the Hour has been explicitly denied for anyone other than Allah, is pure religion (din) and faith (iman).

Imam Muhammad bin Isma’il al-Bukhari (d.256 AH) writes after mentioning this hadith, “[In regards to all that has been mentioned in this hadith,] he [the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace)] regarded all of them as parts of faith (iman).” (Sahih al-Bukhari, 1:12)

Imam Ibn Daqiq al-‘Id al-Shafi’i al-Maliki (d.702 AH) writes, “And, he [Jibril] was teaching you the fundamentals of your religion, or the major matters of your religion.” (Sharh Arba’in Nawawiyyah, p.17)

Hafiz Ibn Taymiyyah (d.729 AH) says, “He regarded all these things as part of religion.” (Al-‘Ubudiyyah fi Tafsir al-Qur’an, p.3)

Imam Abu al-‘Abbas Ansari al-Qurtubi (d.656 AH) writes, “This hadith deserves to be called ‘the mother of the Sunnah’ (umm al-Sunnah) as it contains all the sciences of the Sunnah.” (Fath al-Bari, 1:66; ‘Umdat al-Qari, 1:291)

Qadi ‘Iyad bin Musa al-Maliki (d.544 AH) states, “This hadith consists of all forms of external and internal worship, like the articles of faith (iman) in regards to the beginning, the present, and the future; bodily actions; innermost sincerity; and protection against the obstacles of actions. Moreover, all the Islamic sciences refer to it and are derived from it. (Fath al-Bari, 1:66; ‘Umdat al-Qari, 1:291)

And ‘Allamah Badr al-Din al-‘Ayni writes, “I say: believing that the Resurrection will come and that no one knows its time except Allah Most High is from the religion (din).” (‘Umdat al-Qari, 1:327)

‘Allamah Shihab al-Din Qastallani writes, “It includes the belief that the Resurrection will occur and no one other than Allah knows its time, since these two things [beliefs] are part of religion (din).” (Irshad al-Sari, 1:114)

Shaykh al-Islam Zakariyya al-Ansari has written the same as ‘Allamah Qastallani. (See Tuhfat al-Bari, 1:227)

‘Allamah Sarfaraz Khan Safdar mentions that it becomes evident from the above statements that to believe the knowledge of the Hour is with Allah alone is from the fundamentals of religion. If anyone holds a self-made belief that is contrary to this, he is in reality denying an important belief of the religion.

Third Point: There is a consensus amongst the scholars that this incident was from the last days of Holy Prophet – most probably after Hujjat al-Wida’ (farewell Hajj of the Holy Prophet) – and he didn’t recognize Sayyiduna Jibril at first.

Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar narrates, “A man [who in reality was Sayyiduna Jibril] came to the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) during the last period of his life…” (Fath al-Bari, 1:62; ‘Umdat al-Qari, 1:292; ‘Awn al-Bari, 1:236 – authentic according to the conditions of Muslim)

It is clear from this authentic hadith that this particular visit of Sayyiduna Jibril was during the last period of the life of the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace).

Imam Shah Waliullah Muhaddith al-Dahlawi (may Allah have mercy on him) writes in his unparalleled book Hujjat Allah al-Balighah, “When the task of guiding [of the Holy Messenger] was over and his death time approached, Allah sent down Jibril in the form of a man whom people could see, so he asked the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) about faith (iman), Islam, ihsan (perfection), and the Resurrection. The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) replied to his questions and Jibril verified them, so that it may serve as a summary for his religion.” (Hujjat Allah al-Balighah, 2:210)

Furthermore, Hafiz Ibn Hajr al-‘Asqalani writes, “He [Jibril] came after all the rulings had been revealed in order to establish the matters of religion preached at different occasions in a single meeting so that they be preserved.” (Fath al-Bari, 1:63)

Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari writes, “Some in our time who claim [to have] knowledge while remaining satisfied with what they have not been given proclaim clear falsehoods that Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) knows when the Hour will be. It was said to [such an individual]: in the hadith of Jibril, it is said, ‘The one who is asked about it knows no more than the inquirer’, so he misinterpreted the hadith and said its meaning is ‘You and I both know it [the Hour]’. This is from the greatest of ignorance and ugliest of distortions. The Prophet is more knowledgeable of Allah than to say to someone whom he thought to be a Bedouin, ‘You and I both know the Hour,’ but this ignorant individual will say [the Prophet] knew that he was Jibril’. Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was truthful in his statement, ‘By the One in Whose hand my soul lies, [Jibril] did not come to me in a form I did not recognize, except this form’; and in another wording, ‘it was never unclear to me except this one time’; and in another wording, he said, ‘bring back the Bedouin,’ so the Companions went searching [for him] and did not find anything”. The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) only came to know that he was Jibril after a period of time, as ‘Umar said, ‘so I stayed for a while, then the Prophet said, ‘O ‘Umar, do you know who the questioner was?’’. The distorter says: he knew when being questioned that it was Jibril but did not inform the Companions of that but until after some time. Furthermore, his statement in the hadith, ‘The one who is asked about it knows no more than the inquirer’ is inclusive of all who question and are questioned [about it], so all who question and are questioned about the Hour are in the same situation [of not knowing about it].” (Mawdu’at al-Kabir, p.119)

Consensus (ijma’) of the Prophets

Sayyidnua ‘Abdullah bin Mas’ud (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates from the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), “I met – on the night I was taken for Isra’ – with Sayyiduna Ibrahim, Sayyiduna Musa and Sayyiduna ‘Isa (may the peace of Allah be upon them). They were discussing the issue of when the Resurrection will take place. They then asked Sayyiduna Ibrahim about it and he said, ‘I don’t have any knowledge about it’. And then they asked Sayyiduna Musa and he said the same and then it was asked of Sayyiduna ‘Isa and he said the same. He [Sayyiduna ‘Isa] added that no one knows its knowledge except Allah.” (Musnad Ahmad, 1:375, Ibn Majah, p.309 with an authentic chain; Mustadrak, 4:488 – Al-Hakim and Al-Dhahabi declared it authentic; Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 2:272; Durr al-Manthur, 3:152)

It is a well-accepted principle of hadith that if someone said something, or his saying or act came to the knowledge of the Holy Prophet, and the Holy Prophet either confirmed it or remained silent without giving any indication of disapproval, it is as if he gave consent for it. This is then considered taqrir al-rasul or a taqriri hadith of the Prophet. (See Authority of Sunnah –Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani; Nukhbat al-Fikar – Hafiz Ibn Hajr ‘Asqalani)

From the above mentioned authentic narration, it is clear that there is a consensus of the Prophets that the exact time of the Hour is with Allah alone, and this should also be the belief of every Muslim.

The Companions

Sayyidah ‘Ai’shah[4] (may Allah be pleased with her) narrates that once the Holy Prophet passed by a group of people reciting some poetry. One of them recited, ‘amongst us is a prophet who knows what will happen tomorrow. At this the Holy Prophet said, “No one knows what will happen tomorrow except Allah.” (Mustadrak Hakim, 2:185)

Imam Shams al-Din al-Dhahabi (d.748 AH) has classified this narration as authentic according to the conditions of Muslim. This narration has also been mentioned by Hafiz Ibn Hajr from Mu’jam al-Awsat with a sound (hasan) chain. (Fath al-Bari, 9:167)

Sayyiduna Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) mentioned, “When people asked the Holy Messenger about the Hour, they asked because the Holy Messenger was very kind to them. Then revelation came from Allah that knowledge of the Hour is with Allah alone and He has kept its knowledge to Himself; its knowledge was not given to any angel or prophet.” (Tafsir Ibn Jarir, 6:88, Durr al-Manthur, 3:151, Tafsir Khazin, 2:565)

Sayyiduna ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “From your Prophet, only these five things from the matters of the unseen, mentioned at the end of Surah Luqman, were kept hidden.” (Durr al-Manthur, 5:170)

Sayyiduna Ibn Mas’ud (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “Your Prophet was given the knowledge of everything (kull shay’in) except the five things mentioned at the end of Surah Luqman.” (Musnad Ahmad, 4:438; Fath al-Bari, 8:395; Durr al-Manthur, 5:170; Musnad Tayalsi, p.50; Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 3:454 – he said its chain is sound.)

‘Allamah Sarfaraz states that here the word ‘kull’ is ‘urfi (according to the custom) and not haqiqi (actual). ‘Allamah Murtada al-Zabidi (d.1205 AH) said, “The word ‘kull’ has been used with the meaning of some… our shaykh said, ‘The Imams of lughah have understood the statement of Allah, ‘so eat from every (kull) fruit’, and ‘I was given the knowledge of everything (kull)’ as some’.” (Taj al-‘Urus, 8:100)

Sayyiduna Jabbir bin ‘Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with him) reports, “I heard from the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) one month before his death, ‘You ask me about the time of the Hour while its knowledge is only with Allah’.” (Sahih al-Muslim, 2:310; Musnad Ahmad, 3:326; Durr al-Manthur, 3:150; Mishkat, 2:480; Mustadrak, 4:499 – he said its chain is authentic)

‘Allamah Sarfaraz Safdar writes that this authentic and explicit hadith is a proof that the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) did not have knowledge of the Hour only a month prior to his death, and that there is no proof which shows that he was given the exact time of the Hour after this. Now, the statements of half-baked Sufis uttered in a state of spiritual intoxication (sukr), do not constitute any proof in Shari’ah, nor is there any scope for analogy (qiyas) in this matter

Scholars and Sufis

It has been mentioned by Imam Abu ‘l-Barakat al-Nasafi, Mulla Jiwan al-Hanafi, and ‘Allamah Qadi Thana’ullah Panipati (may Allah have mercy on them) that the Abbasid Caliph Mansur saw the angel of death in a dream and asked him about his life span. The angel of death pointed with his five fingers. The interpreters gave different interpretations for this dream. Some said five years, some said five months, while others said five days. Imam Abu Hanifah (d.150 AH) mentioned that this is actually a reference towards the verse in Surah Luqman [mentioning 5 things]. It means that death is from those five things whose knowledge is with Allah alone. (Tafsir Madarik, 3:219; Al-Tafsirat al-Ahmadiyyah, p.396; Tafsir Mazhari, 7:280)

Imam Muhammad bin Idris al-Shafi’i (d.204 AH) writes, “And Allah said to His Prophet: ‘They ask you [O Prophet], about the Hour as to when it will take place. In which capacity are you to tell this? With your Lord is the final word about it’. (79:42-44) Sufyan informed us from Al-Zuhri, who narrated from ‘Urwah, who said that the Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) kept on enquiring until it was revealed: ‘They ask you [O Prophet], about the Hour as to when it will take place. In which capacity are you to tell this? With your Lord is the final word about it. You are only a Warner for anyone who fears it’. (79:42-45) … Allah said: ‘Say, No one in the heavens and the earth has the knowledge of the Unseen except Allah,’ (27:65).” (Risalah fi ‘Usul al-Fiqh, p.67)

Shaykh Makki bin Abi Talib al-Maliki (d.437 AH) writes, “’Verily, with Allah is knowledge of the Hour’ i.e. He knows when it will come to pass, so you should fear that it may visit you suddenly. ‘He knows that which is in the wombs’ i.e. no one knows it except Him.” (Tafsir Al-Hidayah ila Balugh al-Nihayah, under 31:34)

And Shaykh Abu ‘l-Qasim ‘Abd al-Karim al-Qushayri (d.465 AH) writes, “He alone possesses the knowledge of the Resurrection and He knows what is inside the wombs, whether males or females, wretched or blessed, good or bad; and He knows when the rain will pour down, how many drops will descend, and in which land it will descend.” (Tafsir Lata’if al-Isharat, under 31:34)

Sayyid al-Ta’ifah Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir Jaylani (d.561 AH) writes, “The fact is, in every instance where the question posed in the Qur’an is in the past tense –‘And what has made you know (wa ma adraka)?’ – Allah informed the Holy Prophet of it [the matter]. On the other hand, whenever the question posed therein is in the future tense – ‘And what can let you know’ (wa ma yudrika)?’ – he didn’t know it, nor was he informed of it. For example, consider His words, Almighty and Glorious is He, as Allah said: ‘And what can let you know? It may be that the Hour is near.’ (33:63) Therefore Allah didn’t inform him of its time.” (Ghuniyyat al-Talibin, p.550)

Shaykh al-Akbar Muhyi al-Din ibn ‘Arabi (d.638 AH) writes, “Indeed Allah with Him lies knowledge of the great Hour as all will perish at that time therein, so what of their knowledge? And He sends down rain according to the preparedness [of creation] before [it] perishes. And He knows what are in the wombs that are prepared [for conception] of perfections, whether they are perfect or not, or what are in the wombs carrying [human] souls of developing children, whether they are perfectly mature or not. And no soul knows what it will earn, of knowledge and positions, in the future, due to their being concealed from what is in their preparedness. And no soul knows in what land of all residential lands it will die and its preparedness will perish due to the accomplishment of the perfections that are contained therein; because the knowledge of preparedness and its limits is from that which Allah (Exalted is He) selected exclusively for His Essence amongst the unseen [features] of the unseen. And Allah (Exalted is He) knows best.” (Tafsir al-Qur’an, under 31:34)

Shaykh Sa’di Shirazi (d.1292 C.E) writes, “Ghayb is unknown to anyone except Allah. Do not believe one who claims to know it. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) did not say anything until it was told to him by Sayyiduna Jibril. And Jibril as well did not say anything until it was said by Allah. (Kulliyat Sa’di, from Bawariq al-Ghayb – Mawlana Muhammad Manzur Nu’mani)

It would be too lengthy to document the quotes of all the scholars which categorically demonstrate that the complete knowledge of the five, including the exact time of the Hour, is restricted to Allah, and that it has not been granted to anyone from creation. Instead, we will only name the scholars with references. The scholars who have already been listed above will not be mentioned in the list below.

  1. Sayyiduna Rabi bin Kharash (d.100 AH) – Musnad Ahmad; Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 3:455; Dur al-Manthur, 5:170.
  2. Imam Mujahid ibn Jabar al-Makhzum (d.102 AH) – Tafisr Ibn Kathir, 3:455.
  3. Sayyiduna ‘Ikrimah Mawla ibn ‘Abbas (d.104 AH) – Tafisr Ibn Kathir, 3:520.
  4.  Imam Abu ‘l-Qasim al-Dahhak (d.106 AH) – Tafisr Ibn Kathir, 3:530.
  5. Imam Qatadah al-Basri (d.117 AH) – Tafsir Ibn Jarir, 21:88; Al-Siraj al-Munir, 3:200; Dur al-Manthur, 4:294; Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 3:144.
  6.  Sayyiduna Zayd bin ‘Ali (d.120 AH) – Tafsir Gharib al-Qur’an, under 27:65, 79:42.
  7. Shaykh Suddi Kabir (d.127 AH) – Dur al-Manthur, 4:294; Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 3:144.
  8. Imam Sufyan bin ‘Uyaynah (d.198 AH) – Sahih al-Bukhari, 1:270.
  9. Shaykh Sahl bin ‘Abdullah al-Tustari (d.283 AH) – Tafsir al-Tustari, under 31:34.
  10. Imam Ibn Jarir al-Tabari (d.310H) – Tafsir Jami’ al-Bayan, 9:143.
  11. Imam Abu Ja’far al-Tahawi (d.331H) – Sharh MA’ani al-Athar, 2:239.
  12. Shaykh Abu ‘l-Qasim al-Tabrani (d.360 AH) – Al-Tafsir al-Kabir of Al-Tabrani, under 31:34.
  13. ‘Allamah Abu Layth Muhammad bin Ibrahim al-Samarqandi al-Hanafi (d.375 AH) – Tafsir Bahr al-‘Ulum, under 31:34, 79:46.
  14. Shaykh ‘Ali ibn Ahmad al-Wahidi (d.468 AH) Asbab al-Nuzul, under 31:34.
  15. Shaykh Abu Ishaq al-Tha’labi Nayshapuri (d.427 AH) – Tafsir Al-Kashf wal-Bayan, under 31:34.
  16. Shaykh Abu ‘l-Hassan al-Mawardi al-Basri (d.450 AH) – Tafsir Al-Nakt wal-‘Ayun, under 31:34.
  17. ‘Allamah Ibn ‘Attiyah al-Andulusi (d.546 AH) – Tafsir Al-Muharrar al-Wajiz fi Tafsir al-Kitab al-`Aziz, under 31:34, 33:63.
  18. ‘Allamah ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn al-Jawzi (d.597 AH) – Zad al-Masir fi ‘Ilm al-Tafsir, under 31:34.
  19. Shaykh Ibn ‘Izz ‘Abd al-Salam (d.660 AH) – Tafsir al-Qur’an, under 31:34, 79:43.
  20. Imam Abu ‘Abdullah al-Qurtubi al-Maliki (d.671 AH) – Tafsir Qurtubi, 13:225.
  21. Qadi Nasir al-Din Baydawi (d.686 AH) – Anwar al-Tanzil, 1:305, 2:170.
  22. Shaykh Ibn Abi Jumrah al-Andulusi (d.699 AH) – Bahjat al-Nufus, 4:373.
  23. Imam Abu ‘l-Barakat al-Nasafi (d.710 AH) – Tafsir Madarik, 3:71, 3:240.
  24. Shaykh Nizam al-Din Qumi Nayshapuri (d.728 AH) – Tafsir Gharaib al-Qur’an wa-Raghaib al-Furqan, under 31:34.
  25. Imam ‘Ali bin Muhammad Khazin al-Shafi’i (d.741 AH) – Tafsir Khazin, 5:228.
  26. Shaykh Ibn Juzzay al-Gharnati al-Maliki (d.741 AH) – Tafsir Tashil li ‘Ulum al-Tanzil, under 31:34.
  27. Imam Abu al-Hayyan Andulusi al-Maliki (d.754 AH) – Al-Bahr al-Muhit, 4:145.
  28. ‘Allamah Muhammad bin Yaqub Fayruzabadi al-Shafi’i (d. 817 AH) – Tanwir al-Miqbas, 2:681.
  29. ‘Allamah Jalal al-Din Mahalli (d.864 AH) – Jalalayn, p.488.
  30. ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Tha’libi al-Jaza’iry (d.875 AH) – Tafsir Jawahir al-Ahsan, under 31:34.
  31. Shaykh Burhan al-Din Ibrahim bin ‘Umar al-Biqa’i (d.885 AH) – Nazm al-Durar fi Tanasib al-Ayat wal-Suwar, under 31:34.
  32. Shaykh Mu’in bin Safi (d.889 AH) – Jami’ al-Bayan bar Jalalayn, p.353.
  33. ‘Allamah Qadi Abu Sa’ud (d.951 AH) – Tafsir Abu Sa’ud, 7:352.
  34. Shaykh Khatib Shirbini (d.977 AH) – Al-Siraj al-Munir, 1:544, 3:272, 4:408.
  35. Shaykh Shihab al-Din Khaffaji al-Maliki (d.1069 AH) – Nasim al-Riyadh, 4:265.
  36. Shaykh ‘Ali bin Ahmad ‘Azizi al-Shafi’i (d.1070 AH) – Al-Siraj al-Munir, 2:43.
  37. Shaykh Isma’il Haqqi Bursawi (d.1127 AH) – Tafsir Ruh al-Bayan, 10:209.
  38. Shah Waliullah Dahlawi (d.1174 AH) – Sharh Muwatta, p.314.
  39. Shaykh Ibn ‘Ajibah (d.1224 AH) – Tafsir Bahr al-Mudid, 31:34.
  40. ‘Allamah Qadi Thana’ullah Panipati (d.1225 AH) – Tafsir Mazhari, 7:460.
  41.  Imam Shah ‘Abd al-Qadir Dahlawi (d.1230 AH) – Mawdih al-Qur’an, p.162.
  42. Imam Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Dahlawi (d.1239 AH) – Tafsir ‘Azizi, p.172-173.
  43. Qadi al-Shawkani (d.1250 AH) – Fath al-Qadir, under 31:34.
  44. Shaykh Nawab Qutb al-Din Khan Dahlawi (d.1279 AH) – Mazahir al-Haq, 1:24.
  45. ‘Allamah ‘Abd al-Haq Haqqani Dahlawi (d.1336 AH) – ‘Aqaid al-Islam, p. 155.
  46. Shaykh Sayyid Ahmad al-Barzanji al-Shafi’i (d.1337 AH) – Ghayat al-Mamul fi ‘Ilm al-Ghayb al-Rasul, p.3. This booklet of Shaykh al-Barzanji was signed and fully endorsed by numerous of his contemporaries like Shaykh Falih bin Muhammad Tahiri (d.1328 AH), Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir Tawfiq al-Shalabi al-Tarablusi (d.1369 AH), Shaykh Taj al-Din Ilyas al-Hanafi, Shaykh Muhammad Sa’id al-Dala’il, Shaykh Sayyid ‘Abbas Ridwan, Shaykh ‘Umar al-Hamdan Maliki, Shaykh Khalil bin Ibraim al-Kharbuti, Shaykh Musa ‘Ali al-Shami al-Azhari, Shaykh Sayyid Ahmad al-Jaza’iry, Shaykh Muhammad bin Ahmad ‘Umari, Shaykh Muhammad ‘Aziz Wazir Tonsi, Shaykh Ahmad bin Muhammad Khayr ‘Abbasi, Sayyid ‘Abdullah Assad, etc.
  47. Pir Mehr ‘Ali Shah Golri (d.1352 AH) – Shams al-Hidayah, p.66; Iyla Kalimatillah, p.115.
  48. Shaykh Muhammad ‘Ali Sabuni – Safwat al-Tafasir, 1:486.
  49. Shaykh Ghulam Rasul Sa’idi al-Barelwi – Tibyan al-Qur’an, 9:290.


There are some rules to keep in mind when dealing with statements of some Sufis that go against the well-established beliefs of Ahl al-Sunnah wa ‘l-Jama’ah. ‘Allamah Ibn Khaldun (d.808 AH) writes, “There are the suspect expressions which Sufis call ‘ecstatic utterances’ and which provoke the censure of orthodox Muslims. As to them, it should be known that the attitude that would be fair to Sufis is that they are people who are removed from sense perception. Inspiration grips them. Eventually, they say things about their inspiration what they do not intend to say…. [a] Sufis who are known for their excellence and exemplary character are considered to act in good faith in this and similar aspects… [b] Sufis whose excellence is not known and famous deserve censure for utterance of this kind, since the [data] that might cause us to interpret their statements [so as to remove any suspicion attached to them] are not clear to us. [c] Sufis who are not removed from sense perception and are not in the grip of a state when they make such utterances of this kind, also deserve censure.” (Muqadimmah Ibn Khaldun, p.366)[5]

Those who go against the beliefs of the pious predecessors by heavily relying on half-baked Sufis and latter day scholars should take heed from the following advice of Ahmad Rada Khan al-Barelwi mentioned in his Malfuzat, “Comment: Qadi Baydawi or Khazin, etc. are not the imams of tafsir [then what authority does the like of Shaykh Sawi hold?]; being an imam of a science is something while being an author of a book on a subject is something else. The imams of tafsir are the Companions and the Followers and even among the Followers only the seniors amongst them.”

Mujaddid Alf al-Thani Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi (d.1024 AH) writes, “We require the sayings of Sayyiduna Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace), not the sayings of Muhyi al-Din ibn ‘Arabi, Sadr al-Din Qunawi and ‘Abd al-Razzaq al-Kishi. I need only Nas (the Qur’an and Hadith) not Fas (Fusus al-Hikam). The Futuhat (revelations) of Madinah are sufficient for us and we do not need Futuhat al-Makkiyyah.” (Maktubaat, 2:100)

The mujaddid of the first century, Sayyiduna ‘Umar bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz (may Allah have mercy on him) mentioned the following in refutation of those who denied the existence of predestination (taqdir), “They (Sahabah, Tab’in and Salaf al-Salihin), have also recited these verses which you recite, but they have understood their meaning while you have not. Despite their recitation of all these verses, they accepted the concept of predestination.” (Sunan Abi Dawud, 2:278)

Imam Shah Waliullah Dahlawi writes, “I say that the group which will attain salvation are those who hold fast in both belief and practice to what is apparent from the Qur’an and Sunnah, and this was the practice of the Companions and the Followers, though they differed amongst themselves in that which a clear text [from the Qur’an and Hadiths] is not widely known nor did an agreement from the Companions emerge on it through deriving proof from some of these [clear texts] or [through] explaining an ambiguous text thereof. While the group which will not attain salvation is one which adopts beliefs different to the beliefs of the Predecessors (Salaf) or a practice not [from] their practices. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: ‘This Ummah will not unite on error’. Moreover, he stated: ‘Allah will raise for this community at the end of every hundred years one who will renovate its religion for it’. It was elaborated in another hadith: ‘From every generation, there will be some rightful ones who will carry this knowledge [of Shari’ah]. They will remove from it the distortion of the extremists and the arrogation of the falsifiers and the misinterpretation of the ignorant ones.” (Hujjat Allah al-Balighah, 1:335)

‘Allamah Jalal al-Din Suyuti states, “The various sects amongst the Ahl al-Bid`ah, who have based their spurious beliefs on their weak and fanciful understanding of the Qur`an, do not find a corresponding view amongst those [views] of the Companions, the Followers and the Predecessors… The summary of this is that whoever chooses the opposite view of that which is presented by the Companions and the Followers is in grave error; in fact, he is an innovator, because the Companions and the Followers understood the tafsir of the Qur’an and its meanings best. They have understood it as it ought to be, just as it was revealed to the Messenger of Allah. (Al-Itqan, 2:178, from The Path of Sunnah)

Warning to those who believe otherwise

Our mother, Sayyidah ‘Ai’shah Siddiqah, said, “Whoever says that Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) knows what will happen tomorrow, he has surely put a great slander against Allah because of Allah’s statement, ‘No one knows the unseen (ghayb) in the heavens and earth except Allah’.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, 2:720; Sahih al-Muslim, 1:98; Sahih Abu ‘Awanah, 1:154)

And at another place, Sayyidah ‘Ai’shah said, “If any anyone tells you that the Holy Prophet knew what will happen tomorrow, then he is surely a liar. Then she recited this verse of the Qur’an, ‘Verily the knowledge of the Hour is with Allah [alone]’…”  (Sahih Abu ‘Awanah, 1:155)

In yet in another of her narrations, it comes, “…And whoever tells you [i.e. Masruq] that he knows the unseen (ghayb) has indeed lied; He [Allah Most High] says, ‘No one knows the unseen (ghayb) except for Him’.” (27:65) (Sahih al-Bukhari, 2:1098)

She further narrated, “If anyone tells you that the Holy Prophet… had the knowledge of five things mentioned in, ‘Verily the knowledge of the Hour is with Allah’, has indeed gathered a great slander.” (Sunan al-Tirmidhi, 2:160; Mishkat, 2:510)

This is a direct conversation of Sayyidah ‘Ai’shah with Sayyiduna Masruq and Imam Sha’bi (may Allah have mercy on him) – both who were Followers (tabi’n) – after the passing away of Holy Messenger, so whoever said anything to the contrary has indeed lied.

Sayyiduna Ibn ‘Abbas said, “Mafatih al-ghayb are these five things which have been mentioned in Surah Luqman.” (Durr al-Manthur, 3:15)

And he gave a verdict stating, “These five [unseen matters] are not known to anyone; not to any close angel nor to the most prominent prophet. So, the one claims to know any of these [five], has disbelieved in the Qur’an as he has opposed it.” (Tafsir Khazin, 5:183; Tafsir Qurtubi, 24:82; Zad al-Masir fi ‘Ilm al-Tafsir li Ibn Jawzi, under 31:34; Al-Tafsir al-Kabir of Al-Tabrani, under 31:34)

The meaning is that if it is claimed that he himself, or any prophet or saint, has been granted the complete knowledge of any one matter from these five things, he is a denier of the Qur’an. ‘Allamah Sarfaraz clarifies that the matter of some portion of knowledge is a different issue and the statement of Sayyiduna Ibn ‘Abbas is not in regards to that.

Imam Ibn Battal al-Maliki (d.444 AH) is reported to have said, “Whoever claims to know  what Allah and His Messenger indicated that Allah knows it exclusively, it is as if he has disbelieved in Allah and His Messenger. And this is disbelief (kufr) on the part of one who says so.” (‘Umdat al-Qari, 7:61)

‘Allamah Badr al-Din al-‘Ayni and Hafiz ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn al-Jawzi have quoted Imam al-Zajjaj (d.311 AH) as follows, “One who claims to know any of these five matters, has disbelieved in the Glorious Qur’an.” (‘Umdat al-Qari, 7:6; Zad al-Masir fi ‘Ilm al-Tafsir, 31:34)

This is because it is proven from the explicit text of the Qur’an that the knowledge of the five is specific to Allah, and if anyone claims for himself or for anyone from creation knowledge of these five matters, he will be guilty of associating others in an exclusive attribute of Allah, and thus rejecting the Qur’an.

Imam Sayyid Anwar Shah al-Kashmiri (d.1352 AH) gave the following verdict, “It is utterly surprising that those who bear the signs of the people of knowledge and don their dress how they hesitate to declare such a person a kafir and how they are not sure of his kufr. Who from the people of knowledge can say that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) did not know some things by being informed by Allah? Moreover, rather he (Allah bless him and give him peace) is most knowledgeable of all prophets, rather prophethood is perfection in knowledge as articulated in [the books] of Kalam. The great calamity is only that of the one who spreads evils and propagates falsehood on top of pulpits that he was given knowledge of all things (kull al-ashya’) in their entirety. For indeed this is pure polytheism. Their [i.e. the people of knowledge] pronouncements are agreed on declaring such a thing kufr. How can this speaker seek support [for this opinion] when he is in complete opposition to the Sunnah? Allah is guardian of all affairs.” (Bulghat al-Hayran, p.3; Jawahir al-Tawhid, p.293-294)

Lastly, Qadi Abu Bakr ibn al-‘Arabi al-Maliki (d.543 AH) writes, “There is no sign and no indication to the five things which none but Allah knows, except what the chosen truthful one foretold regarding the signs of the Hour due to being informed of the unseen, while there is no sign of the remaining four matters. So, if anyone says that it will rain tomorrow, he will become a kafir, whether he gives this information through signs which he claims, or a mere opinion. And one who claims that he knows what is in the womb, he is a kafir, but its signs are of different kinds: one is kufr and one is experience. Experience is, [for instance, when] a physician says that if her right breast’s nipple is black it will be male, and if that of the left breast is [black], it will be female; if the woman finds her right waist heavier, it is male, and if she finds the left waist heavier, it is female. If he claims this as the norm, and not necessary in creation, we will neither regard him as kafir nor fasiq. As for one who claims to have the knowledge of [his] future earnings, he is kafir; or he foretells of the vague or detailed events of what will happen before they happen, he is undoubtedly kafir. As far as one who predicts the information of solar or lunar eclipse, our ‘ulama have said: he will be chastised and put in jail, but will not be declared kafir. As far as not declaring him kafir is concerned, a group says: it [i.e. the timing of the eclipse] is a matter perceived by calculation and measuring phases according to what Allah (Glorified is He) said in His (Glorious and Majestic is He) statement: ‘And the moon, We have measured for it phases’. [36:39] Hence, of their calculation of it [i.e. the timing of the eclipse], their relaying it and their belief in it, our ‘ulama have refrained from declaring them kafirs. As for their chastisement, it is because they insert doubt amongst the common people into [believing our] knowledge has a connection with another ghayb while they do not know the extent of the difference between this [i.e. acquiring knowledge of the timing of the eclipse] and other than it, so it will create confusion in their religious beliefs and will shake their foundations of certainty, so they will be chastised until they keep that secret when they know of it and they do not announce it [to other people].” (Ahkam al-Quran, 1:578)

‘Allamah Sarfaraz Khan Safdar concludes that there is no need for anyone to trouble himself by presenting the views of Shaykh Ahmad Sawi[6], Shaykh Ibrahim Bayjuri and Shaykh ‘Usmawi, etc. Their views hold no weight in front of the explicit verses of the Qur’an, mutawattir hadiths, and consensus of the Ummah.


Bawariq al-Ghayb – Mawlana Muhammad Manzur Nu’mani

Izalat al-Rayb ‘an ‘Aqidah ‘Ilm al-Ghayb  ‘Allamah Sarfaraz Khan Safdar

Jawahir al-Tawhid – Mawlana Ghulamullah Khan

[1] Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir Jaylani attributes this particular belief to the Shi’ah. He writes, “They [Shi’ahs] believe that their imam has such knowledge that he is aware of all things of the past and future (ma kana wama yakun), whether related to this world or to the religion. He knows everything, even the number of pebbles on the surface of the earth, the [number of] drops of rain and the number of leaves on trees…” (Ghuniyyat al-Talibin, p.186)

[2] The belief that the prophets and saints know what is in the wombs came from the Rawafid. ‘Allamah Jalal al-Din Suyuti (d.911 AH) writes, “The Imamiyyah (Twelvers) believe that the infallible (ma’sum) imam is aware of what is inside the womb of a pregnant woman and what is beyond the wall.” (Tarikh al-Khulafa’, p.312)

[3] Ahmad Yar Khan Gujarati, the renowned Mufti of the Barelwi sect, writes in Ja’ al-Haq p.104, “It is written in Ruh al-Bayan [of Shaykh Isma’il Haqqi Bursawi] in Surah al-A’raf under the verse: ‘They ask you as if you were aware of it’ (7:187) that ‘the world is 7000 year old, it is proved by authentic traditions’.’’ Ahmad Yar Khan comments on this, “This implies that the Prophet knew the [time of] Qiyamah.” First, it should be kept in mind that Shaykh Isma’il Haqqi himself believed that the knowledge of the Hour is exclusive to Allah. Second, the narration mentioning the age of the world is a fabrication. Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari writes, “… And among them [the rules] is the opposition of the narration to the explicit text of the Qur’an, such as the narration that the age of the world is 7000 years and we are in the seventh thousand, and this narration is a clear-cut lie.” (Mawdu’at al-Kabir, p.118) ‘Allamah Qastallani, in the commentary of Bukhari’s Kitab al-Riqaq, states, “The visionary scholars of hadith say that the matter of the world is unknown; it is not known how old it is and how long it shall live more. As far as the traditions presented as proof, these are weak and fabricated.” Mufti Husain Kadodia mentioned to me that Shaykh Abu ‘l-Mahasin al-Qawuqji al-Tarablusi al-Hanafi (d.1305 AH) said it is a fabrication (mawdu’) quoting ‘Allamah Ibn al-Athir (d.630 AH) and ‘Allamah Ibn al-Jawzi. It was Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani who predicted that Qiyamah will come in the seventh thousand. Pir Mehr ‘Ali Shah Golri refuted Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani in Shams al-Hidayah and showed that this specification of 7000 is against the Qur’an and authentic narrations of the Holy Prophet in which the knowledge of the Hour has been denied for anyone save Allah.

[4] There are extremists who believe that Holy Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) knew the innocence of Sayyidah ‘Ai’shah all along in the incident of Afak but was ordered not to reveal it to anyone.  Mulla ‘Ali ibn Sultan al-Qari writes about these people, “When happened the event of accusation with Sayyidah ‘Ai’shah (may Allah be pleased with her), the mother of the believers, and the liars accused her [of adultery], he [the Holy Prophet] did not know the reality of the matter until he received revelation from Allah Most High about her innocence. But according to these extremists, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) knew the truth without any doubt, so he advised people to leave her, and called Rayhanah and asked her – despite knowing the truth – and said to her: ‘Do you confess the sin?’ No doubt, the factor which motivated them to believe so is their belief that he will purge away their sins and make them enter into Paradise, and as much as they exceed the limits they become closer and nearer to him. They are the most disobedient of people and sternest in going against his way of life. They resemble the Christians because they committed the greatest exaggeration about Christ and opposed his religion with the staunchest opposition. In brief, they certify the openly forged hadiths and misinterpret the authentic ones. And Allah is the custodian of His religion, so He sends one who fulfils the right of admonition.” (Mawdu’at al-Kabir, p.120)

And Imam Sayyid Anwar Shah al-Kashmiri writes in his Urdu treatise on the issue of ‘ilm al-ghayb, “It should be clear that interpreting the incident of Afak (the slander of Sayyidah ‘Ai’siah) by saying that the Holy Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) was given the truth but was not permitted to reveal it, as mentioned by Naqqal Ji [reference to the author of Izalat al-Khifa’, and this is the belief of Barelwis in general] on page 21, is ilhad (heresy) and zandaqah (disbelief) or stupidity. Otherwise, no sane person can afford to distort it after seeing the context of the hadith of Afak. When the Holy Messenger was extremely disturbed and abandoned normal relations with Sayyidah ‘Ai’shah, and even contemplated whether to leave her or not, then this unfortunate fool dares such a distortion. May Allah protect us from such heresy in the religion.” (Sahm al-Ghayb fi Kabd Ahl al-Rayb, p.20-21)

[5] Taken from English translation by Franz Rosenthal, Princeton.

[6] ‘Allamah Sarfaraz Khan Safdar and Mawlana Muhammad Manzur Nu’mani mention that Shaykh Ahmad Sawi is an unreliable mufassir of the 13th century Hijri; someone who didn’t differentiate between reliable and unreliable (dry and fresh) views and collected everything in his tafsir (ratab wa yabis aqwal jama’ karnay wala). (See: Guldastah-i-Tawhid and Munazarah ‘Ilm al-Ghayb)

Examining the Belief that the Prophet (upon him be peace) is Omnipresent

April 17, 2012

Compiled by Saad Khan

[Translator’s foreword: Considering the prophets and saints (awliya) omnipresent (hadir and nadir) is a belief held by some of the Ahl al-Bi‘dah (people of innovation). A group amongst them believes that the souls of the prophets and saints are present everywhere and are aware of everything that occurs in this world. According to some others, the meaning of hadir and nadir is that a spiritually strong person sees the entire world in the way he sees the palm of his hand, and hears voices from both far and near, or travels the entire world in an instant and assists those with needs over thousands of miles. (See Ja’ al-Haq, ch: Hadir wa Nadir ki Bahth by Mufti Ahmad Yar Khan Barelwi).]

The presenting of deeds to the Prophet (upon him be peace)

The belief of hadir and nadir should not be confused with the concept of deeds being presented to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). Firstly, this presenting of deeds to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) consists of summarized knowledge and is not all-encompassing. Imam Sayyid Anwar Shah Kashmiri[1] (d.1352 AH) writes, “Certainly, the presentation is like the presenting of the names (asma‘) upon the angels; not all-encompassing knowledge (al-‘ilm al-muhit).” (‘Aqidat al-Islam, p.11)

Imam Kashmiri writes in another place, “His saying, ‘so, when the Prophet’s (Allah bless him and give him peace) eyes shed tears,’ and the reason for crying was mentioned earlier: He said, ‘How can I be a witness for them when I cannot see them?’ So it was said: ‘Surely, deeds will be presented to you’. And the presentation is ijmali (summarized) knowledge.” (Fayd al-Bari Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari, 6:458).

The angels convey the deeds to the Prophet (upon him be peace)

Sayyid Ahmad al-Barzanji al-Shafi’i (d.1337 AH) writes in Ghayat al-Ma’mul fi ‘Ilm al-Ghayb al-Rasul:

“Bakr bin ‘Abdullah al-Muzani said that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, ‘My life is better for you; you face new things and they are resolved. When I die, my death will be better for you; your deeds will be presented to me. So, if I see good, I shall praise Allah. And if I see anything otherwise, then I shall seek forgiveness for you from Allah.’

He [Imam al-Subki] then mentioned more hadiths after this, all of which prove that the angels present the Salat and Salam of his Ummah to him. He then said after this: ‘Our purpose in writing all these hadiths is to illustrate the [concept of] ‘presenting’ to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) and this implies the conveyance of the angels to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace)…’

Hence, these hadiths that Imam Taj al-Din al-Subki has mentioned indicate that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) is neither informed of the Salat and Salam of that person who is away from his noble grave nor the deeds of his Ummah, but instead they are conveyed to him by the angels entrusted with this task.

As a result, if the situation was as he [referring to Ahmad Rada Khan Barelwi] has thought that the knowledge of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) is encompassing all of ‘what was and what shall be’ (ma kana wa ma yakun) — including all details of minute particulars (juziyyat) and entireties (kulliyyat) — then his knowledge of that would not be dependent on the angels’ conveyance [of that knowledge] to him because the above mentioned [claim of] encompassing [knowledge] would require that he (Allah bless him and give him peace) is aware that such and such a person is, for example, offering prayers and sending salutations on him at such and such time, and that such and such person is doing such a good or bad deed at such and such time. If this was the case, then what need would there be for the conveyance of the angels, which has been explicitly stated in the above mentioned hadiths?” (Ghayat al-Ma’mul fi ‘Ilm al-Ghayb al-Rasul, p.15-16)

A person cannot be present in multiple places at a single time

Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali writes in Al-Mustasfa min ‘Ilm al-Usul while defining the self-evident truths (badhiyyat):

“First, the self-evident truths, i.e., the purely rational matters which the intellect (‘aql) alone has access to, without the help of any sense or imagination disposing [one] to accept it, like man’s knowledge of his own existence, and that one [thing] cannot be pre-eternal (qadim) and temporal (hadith), and that if one of two antitheses is confirmed the second will automatically be proven false, and that two is more than one, etc.

These matters were deeply rooted in the intellect ever since its existence, such that a person of intellect assumes that he had always known them, and he does not know when they were renewed. This knowledge does not depend on anything besides the existence of intellect.” (p.36)

Imam al-Ghazali then goes on to list a few more of these self-evident truths:

“One person cannot be in two places, and one thing cannot be pre-eternal and temporal, existent and non-existent, and in motion and motionless simultaneously.” (p.35, 38)

Prophets and saints are seen in multiple places through a likeness of their souls

‘Allamah Sarfraz Khan Safdar writes in Itmam al-Burhan fi Radd Tawdih al-Bayan that being able to see the prophets and saints in multiple places and in a waking state falls under the concept of [seeing a] mithal (likeness). Allah creates a mithal of the souls and this is what people witness.

Shaykh Abu Muhammad Tahir ibn Ahmad al-Qazwini (d.756 AH) quotes Imam al-Ghazali as mentioned by Shaykh ‘Abd al-Wahhab Sha‘rani (d.772 AH) in Al-Yawaqit wa ‘l-Jawahir, 1:132: “Imam Ghazali would say: ‘Whoever saw the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace), he did not see his real form preserved in the blessed tomb of Madinah. He saw only his image (mithal), not his form.”

Shaykh ‘Abd al-Wahhab Sha‘rani also quotes Shaykh Muhammad al-Shadhili al-Maghribi (d.656 AH) in Al-Yawaqit wa ‘l-Jawahir, 1:93: “Thereupon, he does not see him (Allah bless him and give him peace) but through his soul which assumes the representation of forms without the preoccupation of his blessed essence and its advent from the intermediary realm (barzakh) to the place of the viewer. This is due to its [i.e. the essence’s] nobility and purity from the obligation of advent. This is the manifest truth.”

‘Allamah Shabbir Ahmad ‘Uthmani (d. 1369 AH) quotes ‘Allamah Ibn Munayyar al-Iskandari al-Maliki (d.735 AH), the famous commentator of Sahih al-Bukhari, as follows: “Allah creates a mithal of his soul so it is seen in wakefulness as it is seen in sleep.” (Fath al-Mulhim, 1:330)

‘Allamah Shihab al-Din Qastallani al-Shafi’i (d.923 AH) writes, “So the figure he saw is neither the soul of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) nor his form, rather it is a mithal of him upon verification.”  (Al-Mawahib al-Laduniyyah, 5:293)

Shaykh ‘Abd al-Haq al-Muhaddith al-Dahlawi (d.1052AH) explains further, “And seeing the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) after his demise is through a mithal, so he is seen in dreams and appears in a wakeful state too. The holy essence that is living and rests in the grave in Madinah can take the form of an image and appear simultaneously in various places to the masses in dreams and to the elite in a wakeful state.” (Madarij al-Nabuwwah from Barahin al-Qati’ah, p.204)

Shaykh ‘Abd al-Haq writes in the explanation of the following hadith – ‘Whoever saw me in a dream indeed he saw the truth’ – “So what is seen is neither his soul nor his blessed body [that is] preserved in Madinah. The presence of an individual at a particular place at one time with several qualities and various forms is unimaginable except for transformation into a mithal. So what is seen in dreams is the mithal (likeness) of his holy soul, which is the truth, and there is no room for denial.” (Ashi’ath al-Lam’at, p.683)

Shaykh Ahmad ibn ‘Abd al-Ahad al-Sirhindi (d.1024 AH) – famously known as Mujaddid al-Alf al-Thani – explains, “At times it happens that people report an extraordinary event (khawariq) from a saint (wali) when he himself is not aware at all of this event. And those saints who are favored with knowledge and inspiration (kashf), it is possible that they are not aware of some of their own extraordinary feats (khawariq). Instead, a likeness of their image appears at various locations, having crossed long distances, and exhibits wonderful acts and unusual conditions; while the owners of those forms remain wholly unaware of their resemblances

The act is only from Him and [everything] else is a locus of manifestation.

My revered master and direction [Khawaja Baqi Billah – may his secret be sanctified] mentioned that a certain saint used to say that how strange it is that people from all around visit and some say they saw me in Makkah during the Hajj season and performed Hajj along with me. And some say they saw me in Baghdad and they express their friendship with me; when I had not left my house at all, nor had I seen such people before. What a great accusation they falsely lay against me!” (Maktubat Imam Rabbani, 1:468)

Hakim al-Ummah Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanawi (d.1362 AH) mentions in Nashr al-Tib (p.50) that the blessed body stays in inside the grave and what is seen in other places is a mithal (likeness) of the soul. Shaykh Muhammad bin Sayyid Darwaysh (d.1276 AH), a student of ‘Allamah Ibn ‘Abidin (d.1252 AH), has also mentioned the same in Isna al-Matalib (p.299). ((Itmam al-Burhan fi Radd Tawdih al-Bayan, 4:46-50))

Fatwas on the issue by numerous jurists

[Translator: According to the scholars of Ahl al-Sunnah wa ‘l-Jama‘ah, it is the sole attribute of Allah Most High to be aware of everything that occurs in the world at all times. This has been sufficiently mentioned in the books of fatwa (legal verdicts). Several of these fatwas are produced below.]

[1] Imam ‘Abd al-Rashid Zahir al-Din al-Walwaliji (d.540 AH) writes in Fatawa Walwalijiyyah, “A man performed nikah (marriage) with a woman and the witnesses were not present, [and] he said to the woman: ‘We make Allah and his Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) our witnesses’. This individual will become a disbeliever (kafir). This is because he held the belief that the Messenger of Allah has knowledge of the unseen (‘ilm al-ghayb). Since the one who does not have knowledge [of this nikah], how can he become a witness? The person who has this belief is a disbeliever.” (Fatawa Walwalijiyyah, 5:422) ((Taken from Izalat al-Rayb, p.443))

Mufti Husain Kadodia informed us that Imam al-Walwaliji states that this verdict initially came from Imam Abu ‘l-Qasim al-Saffar (d.326 AH). And that ‘Allamah ‘Abd al-Hayy Lakhnawi (d.1304 AH) mentions that Imam Abu ‘l-Qasim al-Saffar studied under Nusayr ibn Yahya, (d.268 AH) who studied under Muhammad ibn Sama’ah, who studied directly from Imam Abu Yusuf (d.181 AH). He was a senior imam, to whom students would travel to Balkh, Afghanistan. From this we learn that Imam Abu ‘l-Qasim al-Saffar was a great-grand student of Imam Abu Yusuf and had only three links between him and Imam Abu Hanifah (d.150 AH). This verdict can be dated back to at least the 3rd century Hijri.

[2] Imam Tahir bin ‘Abd al-Rashid al-Bukhari (d.542 AH) writes in Khulasat al-Fatawa, “If a man marries while there is no witness, so he says, ‘I make Allah and His Messenger as well as the angels witnesses [of my nikah]’, he will be declared a disbeliever (kafir) as per the verdicts, since he believed that the Messenger and angels know the unseen (ghayb).” (Khulasat al-Fatawa, 4:385)

[3] Imam Hassan bin Mansur (d.592 AH), known as Qadi Khan, states, “A man performed nikah with a woman without any witnesses and said to the woman, ‘we make Allah and his Messenger our witnesses’. The jurists have said that this statement of the man is disbelief (kufr). This is because he held the belief that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) has knowledge of the unseen (‘ilm al-ghayb), whereas he didn’t have knowledge of the unseen while alive, so how would he then have it after his death?” (Fatawa Qadi Khan, 4:883) ((Taken from Izalat al-Rayb, p. 443))

[4] Imam ‘Abd al-Rahim ibn Abu Bakr ibn Burhan al-Din (d.651 AH) – grandson of Sahib Hidayah – writes, “If a man marries in the absence of witnesses, so he said, ‘I make Allah and His Messenger witnesses, or I make Allah and His angels witnesses,’ he will become a disbeliever.”  (Fusul Imadiyyah, from Alamgiri, 2:283)

[5] Imam ‘Alim bin ‘Ala’yi Ansari al-Dahlawi (d.686 AH) writes in Tatar Khaniyyah[2] – compiled at the request of Khan A’zam Tatar Khan Dahlawi[3], “A man performed nikah without witnesses, so he said, ‘I make Allah, the Messenger and the angels my witnesses,’ the nikah will not take place because he believed that the Messenger and the angels know the unseen (ghayb) and they definitely hear the call (nida’), then he will become a disbeliever.” (Fatawa Tatar Khaniyyah, from Majmu’ah al-Fatawa, 3:77) ((Izalat al-Rayb, p.445))

[6] Imam Shihab al-Din al-Khawarzami al-Bazzazi (d.827 AH) writes, “If one married a woman by making Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessing be upon him) as his witnesses, the nikah will not take place and he is feared to have committed disbelief.” (Fatawa Bazzaziyyah[4], 4:119)

He writes in another place, “Our scholars have said that whoever says the souls of the mashayikh are present (hadir) and knowing, he is a disbeliever.” (Fatawa Bazzaziyyah, p.326) ((Taken from Izalat al-Rayb, p.445))

[7] It is written in Fatawa Jawahir al-Akhlatiyyah of ‘Allamah Muhammad Akhlati al-Husayni (d. before 10th AH), “If anyone holds that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) has knowledge of the unseen, he turns a disbeliever. Then how can this be thought for anyone else?” ((Taken from Izalat al-Rayb, p.445))

[8] ‘Allamah Zayn al-‘Abidin ibn Nujaym al-Misri (d.970 AH) states, “It is written in Al-Khaniyyah (Fatawa Qadi Khan) and Al-Khulasah that if a person takes Allah and his Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) as witnesses for nikah, the nikah will not take place. And that individual will become a disbeliever because he held the belief that the Messenger of Allah has knowledge of the unseen (‘ilm al-ghayb).” (Al-Bahr al-Ra’iq, 3:88)

And he also writes, “Our scholars have said that whoever says the souls of the mashayikh are present and knowing, he is a disbeliever.” (Al-Bahr al-Ra’iq, 5:124) ((Taken from Izalat al-Rayb, p.443))

[9] ‘Allamah ‘Umar bin Muhammad al-Sunnami (d.8th AH) writes, “A man married a woman with no witnesses and he said, ‘I make Allah and His Messenger my witnesses, or I make Allah and angels my witnesses,’ he will turn a disbeliever as he believed that the Messenger and the angels have knowledge of the unseen.” (Nisaab al-Ihtisab, 1:211)

[10] ‘Allamah Kamal al-Din bin Karim al-Din (d.8th AH) writes, “If a man says to a woman, ‘I made Allah and His Messenger my witnesses’, the nikah will not take place. Imam Abu ‘l-Qasim al-Saffar said, ‘it is disbelief and he will become a disbeliever; since he believes that the Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) knows this nikah whereas the unseen (ghayb) is not known to anyone except Allah’.” (Fatawa Majmu’ah Khani, 2:6)

[11] ‘Allamah ‘Abd al-Rahman Effendi (d.1078 AH), known as Shaykhi Zadah, writes, “Whoever says the souls of the mashayikh are present and knowing, he is a disbeliever (kafir).” (Majma’ al-Anhur, 1:320)

[12] ‘Allamah Biri Zadah al-Hanafi (d.1099 AH) states, “A man performed nikah with a woman and the witnesses were not present, [and] he said to the woman, ‘we make Allah and his Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) our witnesses’. Then this individual will become a disbeliever. This is because he held the belief that the Messenger of Allah has knowledge of the unseen. Since the one [being made witness] doesn’t have knowledge [of this nikah], how can he become a witness? The person who holds this belief is a disbeliever.” (Hashiyyah al-Ashbah, p.86) ((Taken from Izalat al-Rayb, p.443))

[13] ‘Allamah Nasir al-Din Lahori al-Bina’i (d.10th AH) states, “Or if he said, ‘I make Allah, His Messenger and the angels witnesses of my nikah, he will turn a disbeliever; since he believed that the Messenger and angels know the unseen.”  (Fatawa Barhanah, 1:127)[5]

[14] It is mentioned in Fatawa al-Hindiyyahalso known as Fatawa Alamgiri compiled by 500 jurists from the Subcontinent, Hijaz, Iraq, and Syria, at the behest of Sultan Aurangzeb Alamgir (d.1707 AD), “If an individual performed nikah without any witnesses and he said, ‘I make Allah and his Messenger my witnesses,’ or he said, ‘I make Allah and his angels my witnesses,’ then such an individual will become a disbeliever. But if he said, ‘I make the angels on my right and left sides (kiraman katibin) as my witnesses,’ then he will not become a disbeliever [because both these angels are witnesses of the nikah].” (Fatawa al-Hindiyyah, 2:292) ((Taken from Izalat al-Rayb, p.444))

[15] ‘Allamah Qadi Thana’ullah Panipati[6] (d.1225 AH), known as Imam Bayhaqi of his time, writes, “If any person says that Allah Most High and His Prophet are witness in a certain act, then that person will become a disbeliever, because such a person has regarded the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) as the knower of the unseen.” (Irshad al-Talibin, p.28; Ma la Budda Minhu, p.176) ((Taken from Izalat al-Rayb, p.446))

[16] ‘Allamah Ahmad Din Bughwi al-Lahori[7] (d.1286 AH) writes, “One of [the types of shirk] is shirk in knowledge: It means to believe that anyone other than Allah from the creation has absolute knowledge [general knowledge and knowledge of every specific thing], is hadir and nadir, and knows from a distance, just like Allah has the knowledge [of everything] and is hadir and nadir. And the effect of this belief appears in his statements. For example, he calls on the name of his shaykh and mentor while standing, sitting, sleeping and waking up, and at other occasions. Or instead of the name of Allah, he says in Hindi: dam-i-murshid, dam-i-pir hamaray, dam ya ‘Ali or ya dam-i-mushkil kusha’. Such beliefs are undoubtedly baseless and false; there is no doubt in it. Do not you see how Allah Most High negated the knowledge of the others in the Verse of the Throne and how He established the knowledge of the secret, the open, and the actions for Himself saying: ‘He knows what is before them and what is behind them; while they encompass nothing of His knowledge, except what He wills’ (2:255). ‘He knows what you conceal and what you reveal, and He knows what you earn,’ (6:3). ‘He certainly knows the secret and what is even more hidden,’ (20:7).” (Dalil al-Mushrikin, p.33-34)

And he further writes, “It is mentioned in Al-Bazzaziyyah and Al-Bahr al-Ra’iq: ‘One who says that the souls of the pious are present and know the important events has committed disbelief’. While, it is written in Zad al-Labib: ‘One who assumes that the dead have discretion (tasarruf) in the matters besides Allah Most High, he is disbeliever.” (Dalil al-Mushrikin, p.52)

‘Allamah Bughwi again writes, “This issue is written in Al-Bazzaziyyah and other books of Fatawa: ‘One who says the souls of the mashayikh are present and knowing, he has committed disbelief’. Likewise, Shaykh Fakhr al-Din Abu Sa’id ‘Uthman al-Jabbani bin Sulayman al-Hanafi has written in his treatise: ‘One who assumes that the dead have discretion (tasarruf) in the affairs – instead of Allah Most High – has committed disbelief’. The same is written in Al-Bahr al-Ra’iq and Mi’ah Masa’il [of Shah Ishaq Muhaddith Dahlawi].” (Dalil al-Mushrikin, p.138)

[17] Hujjat al-Islam Mawlana Muhammad Qasim Nanotwi (d.1297 AH) writes, “The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) should not be considered hadir and nadir, otherwise, let alone Islam, it will be disbelief (kufr).” (Fuyuz-i-Qasmiyyah, p.48)

Mawlana Muhammad Qasim Nanotwi further writes, “This notion about mashayikh is erroneous that they are present and observant at every moment. This attribute is exclusive to Allah (Exalted is He) only. By way of rupturing the norm (kharq al-‘adah), such matters have appeared from some elders, and through that, the ignorant were deceived.” (Fuyuz-i-Qasmiyyah, p.48)

[18] ‘Allamah ‘Abd al-Hayy Lakhnawi (d.1304 AH) writes, “Knowledge of all of the matters (juziyyat) at all times is only specific to Allah Most High. It is stated in Fatawa Bazzaziyyah that whoever says that souls of the pious (mashayikh) are hadir is a disbeliever (kafir) and it is written in the same book that whoever performed nikah by making Allah and His Messenger to be witnesses becomes a disbeliever. This is because he assumed that the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) is knower of the unseen.” (Majmu’ al-Fatawa, 1:46-47)

And he writes in another place, “From them [the lies] is what they mention when commemorating the Muhammadan hearing that he hears the blessings of one who sends blessings on him without any mediation, though he is far. This is false and not established by any narration. Rather, its opposite is established. The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, ‘One who sends blessings on me near my grave I hear it, and one who sends blessings on me from a distance, Allah appointed an angel who conveys it me. It will suffice him for his world and hereafter [and] I will intercede for him on the Day of Judgment’. Al-Bayhaqi in Shu’ab al-Iman, Abu ‘l-Shaykh in Kitab al-Thawab and Al-‘Uqayli in Kitab al-Du’afa’ transmitted it, and it has corroborative reports (shawahid) which were elaborated by Al-Suyuti in Al-La’ali al-Masnu’ah and Ibn ‘Arraq in Tanzih al-Shar’iah.” (Al-Athar al-Marfu’ah fi ‘l-Akhbar al-Mawdu’ah, p.35)

[19] ‘Allamah al-Muhaddith Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri (d.1346 AH) was asked regarding a person who believes that the Noble Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) is hadir and nadir while believing that this power and discretion (tasarruf) is bestowed to him by Allah Most High. The Shaykh replied, “If any individual believes that the Noble Messenger, by the giving of Allah, is hadir and nadir everywhere, then even though this is not belief in al-‘ilm al-dhati (knowledge not bestowed by Allah), it is belief in al-‘ilm al-muhit (all-encompassing knowledge) for the Noble Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace). And this is shirk just like belief [in this sense] of al-‘ilm al-dhati is shirk.” (Fatawa Khaliliyyah, p.338)

[20] The Grand Mufti of Hind Mufti Muhammad Kifayatullah al-Dahlawi (d.1372 AH) writes regarding Shirk fi ‘l-’Ilm and Shirk fi ‘l-Sam‘ wa ‘l-Basr, “To attribute Allah’s power of knowledge to others. For example, to say that a prophet or a pious man has the knowledge of the unseen, knows everything, is aware of all of our affairs, or can tell what is happening far and near; all this is Shirk fi ‘l-’Ilm. Shirk fi ‘l-Sam‘ wa ‘l-Basr is to attribute Allah’s powers of seeing and hearing to others. For example, to believe that a certain prophet or a pious person could hear things far and near, or could see all of our acts.” (Ta’lim al-Islam, 4:15)

[21] Hakim al-Ummah Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanawi writes, “[Shirk and kufr is] to have the belief that a particular saint or pious person has full knowledge of all our conditions at all times… To implore someone from far and think that he will come to know of it…” (Ta’lim al-Din, p.29)

[22] Similar verdicts can be found in Al-Tajnis, p.297, of Imam Burhan al-Din ‘Ali al-Marghinani (d.593 AH)author of Al-Hidayah; ‘Umdat al-Qari, 11:520, of Shaykh al-Islam ‘Allamah ‘Ayni (d.855H); Al-Musayarah, 2:88, of Hafiz Kamal al-Din ibn al-Humam al-Hanafi (d.861 AH); Sharh Fiqh al-Akbar, p.185, and Sharh al-Shifa’, p.4:438, of Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari (d.1014H); ‘Aqa’id al-Islam, p. 155, of ‘Allamah ‘Abd al-Haq Haqqani Dahlawi (d.1336 AH); Fatawa Rashidiyyah, 3:36, by Imam Rashid Ahmad Gangohi (d.1323 AH) with signatures of Shaykh al-Hind Mawlana Mahmud al-Hassan (d.1339 AH), Mufti ‘Aziz al-Rahman ‘Uthmani (d.1348 AH); etc. ((Taken from Izalat al-Rayb, p.445))

[1] Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah wrote in the introduction to his edition of Al-Tasrih bi ma Tawatara fi Nuzul al-Masih, “Our shaykh, the researcher, Al-Kawthari said: ‘After the shaykh, the imam, Ibn al-Humam (d.861 AH), there appeared none equal to him [i.e. Imam Anwar Shah Kashmiri] in eliciting rare points of discussion from hadiths – and this is a long period of time!’” (p. 26)

[2] An excellent fatwa book of the Hanafi school that has managed to combine the juridical issues contained in al-Muhit al-Burhani, Al-Dhakhirah, Al-Khaniyyah, and Al-Zahiriyyah. (Kashf al-Zunun, 1:268)

[3] He wrote a commentary of the Qur’an named Tafsir Tatar Khan.

[4] Mufti Husain Kadodia informed us that Shaykh al-Islam Abu Sa’ud (d.951 AH) was asked why he did not collect the important issues of Fiqh and compile a book. At this he replied, “I feel shy in front of the author of Al-Bazzaziyyah while his compilation is present, since it is a noble compilation that comprises of all important matters properly.” (Kashf al-Zunun, 1:242) In addition to this he informed us that ‘Allamah ‘Abd al-Hayy Lakhnawi said, “I studied Fatawa al-Bazzaziyyah and found it containing necessary issues [of Fiqh] from amongst that which is relied upon.” (Fawa’id al-Bahiyyah, p.246)

[5] Special thanks to Mufti Husain Kadodia for providing us quotes no. 2, 3, 9, 10, 11 and 13 and other beneficial information.

[6] Shaykh Mirza Mazhar Jan Janan (d.1195 AH) used to say, “If Allah Almighty questions on the Day of Judgment, ‘what gift did you bring in our court?’ I will say: ‘Thana’ullah Panipatti’.” (Maqamat Mazhari, p.76; Hada’iq al-Hanafiyyah, p.484)

[7] He is Ahmad Din (1217 AH – 1286 AH) bin Hafiz Nur Hayat bin Hafiz Muhammad Shifa’ bin Hafiz Nur Muhammad Bughwi. He traveled to Delhi, at the age of eight, with his elder brother, ‘Allamah Ghulam Muhyi al-Din Bughwi (1203 AH – 1273 AH), for higher learning. There they studied under the likes of Imam Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Dahlawi and ‘Allamah Shah Ishaq Muhaddith Dahlawi. He is the author of many books like Hashiyyah Jalali, Hashiyyah Sharh Mulla, Mas’alah Ghina’, and Dalil al-Mushrikin (on the enormity of shirk). (Hada’iq al-Hanafiyyah, p.504-505) Mawlana Faqir Muhammad Jhelumi writes in Hada’iq al-Hanafiyyah, p.504, “However, the extent of the spread of the rational (ma’qul) and transmitted sciences (manqul) in Punjab was not done by anyone as much as by these brothers. Thousands of people graduated and received benefit at their hands. It seemed as if no person of knowledge remained deprived of being their student, some of them directly and others by being connected to their students.”