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), 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:
- ‘Alam al-Hayawan (the animal world) – ‘what is in the wombs’ is a reference to this.
- ‘Alam al-Nabatat (the plant world) – ‘He sends down rain’ refers to this.
- Alam al-Sufla or ‘Alam al-Barzakh (the underworld or the intermediary world) – ‘what land it will die in’ refers to this.
- ‘Alam al-Zaman (the world of time) – ‘what it will earn tomorrow’ refers to this.
- ‘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.” (Al–Tafsirat 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:
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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.
Sayyidah ‘Ai’shah (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.
- Sayyiduna Rabi bin Kharash (d.100 AH) – Musnad Ahmad; Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 3:455; Dur al-Manthur, 5:170.
- Imam Mujahid ibn Jabar al-Makhzum (d.102 AH) – Tafisr Ibn Kathir, 3:455.
- Sayyiduna ‘Ikrimah Mawla ibn ‘Abbas (d.104 AH) – Tafisr Ibn Kathir, 3:520.
- Imam Abu ‘l-Qasim al-Dahhak (d.106 AH) – Tafisr Ibn Kathir, 3:530.
- 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.
- Sayyiduna Zayd bin ‘Ali (d.120 AH) – Tafsir Gharib al-Qur’an, under 27:65, 79:42.
- Shaykh Suddi Kabir (d.127 AH) – Dur al-Manthur, 4:294; Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 3:144.
- Imam Sufyan bin ‘Uyaynah (d.198 AH) – Sahih al-Bukhari, 1:270.
- Shaykh Sahl bin ‘Abdullah al-Tustari (d.283 AH) – Tafsir al-Tustari, under 31:34.
- Imam Ibn Jarir al-Tabari (d.310H) – Tafsir Jami’ al-Bayan, 9:143.
- Imam Abu Ja’far al-Tahawi (d.331H) – Sharh MA’ani al-Athar, 2:239.
- Shaykh Abu ‘l-Qasim al-Tabrani (d.360 AH) – Al-Tafsir al-Kabir of Al-Tabrani, under 31:34.
- ‘Allamah Abu Layth Muhammad bin Ibrahim al-Samarqandi al-Hanafi (d.375 AH) – Tafsir Bahr al-‘Ulum, under 31:34, 79:46.
- Shaykh ‘Ali ibn Ahmad al-Wahidi (d.468 AH) Asbab al-Nuzul, under 31:34.
- Shaykh Abu Ishaq al-Tha’labi Nayshapuri (d.427 AH) – Tafsir Al-Kashf wal-Bayan, under 31:34.
- Shaykh Abu ‘l-Hassan al-Mawardi al-Basri (d.450 AH) – Tafsir Al-Nakt wal-‘Ayun, under 31:34.
- ‘Allamah Ibn ‘Attiyah al-Andulusi (d.546 AH) – Tafsir Al-Muharrar al-Wajiz fi Tafsir al-Kitab al-`Aziz, under 31:34, 33:63.
- ‘Allamah ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn al-Jawzi (d.597 AH) – Zad al-Masir fi ‘Ilm al-Tafsir, under 31:34.
- Shaykh Ibn ‘Izz ‘Abd al-Salam (d.660 AH) – Tafsir al-Qur’an, under 31:34, 79:43.
- Imam Abu ‘Abdullah al-Qurtubi al-Maliki (d.671 AH) – Tafsir Qurtubi, 13:225.
- Qadi Nasir al-Din Baydawi (d.686 AH) – Anwar al-Tanzil, 1:305, 2:170.
- Shaykh Ibn Abi Jumrah al-Andulusi (d.699 AH) – Bahjat al-Nufus, 4:373.
- Imam Abu ‘l-Barakat al-Nasafi (d.710 AH) – Tafsir Madarik, 3:71, 3:240.
- Shaykh Nizam al-Din Qumi Nayshapuri (d.728 AH) – Tafsir Gharaib al-Qur’an wa-Raghaib al-Furqan, under 31:34.
- Imam ‘Ali bin Muhammad Khazin al-Shafi’i (d.741 AH) – Tafsir Khazin, 5:228.
- Shaykh Ibn Juzzay al-Gharnati al-Maliki (d.741 AH) – Tafsir Tashil li ‘Ulum al-Tanzil, under 31:34.
- Imam Abu al-Hayyan Andulusi al-Maliki (d.754 AH) – Al-Bahr al-Muhit, 4:145.
- ‘Allamah Muhammad bin Yaqub Fayruzabadi al-Shafi’i (d. 817 AH) – Tanwir al-Miqbas, 2:681.
- ‘Allamah Jalal al-Din Mahalli (d.864 AH) – Jalalayn, p.488.
- ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Tha’libi al-Jaza’iry (d.875 AH) – Tafsir Jawahir al-Ahsan, under 31:34.
- 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.
- Shaykh Mu’in bin Safi (d.889 AH) – Jami’ al-Bayan bar Jalalayn, p.353.
- ‘Allamah Qadi Abu Sa’ud (d.951 AH) – Tafsir Abu Sa’ud, 7:352.
- Shaykh Khatib Shirbini (d.977 AH) – Al-Siraj al-Munir, 1:544, 3:272, 4:408.
- Shaykh Shihab al-Din Khaffaji al-Maliki (d.1069 AH) – Nasim al-Riyadh, 4:265.
- Shaykh ‘Ali bin Ahmad ‘Azizi al-Shafi’i (d.1070 AH) – Al-Siraj al-Munir, 2:43.
- Shaykh Isma’il Haqqi Bursawi (d.1127 AH) – Tafsir Ruh al-Bayan, 10:209.
- Shah Waliullah Dahlawi (d.1174 AH) – Sharh Muwatta, p.314.
- Shaykh Ibn ‘Ajibah (d.1224 AH) – Tafsir Bahr al-Mudid, 31:34.
- ‘Allamah Qadi Thana’ullah Panipati (d.1225 AH) – Tafsir Mazhari, 7:460.
- Imam Shah ‘Abd al-Qadir Dahlawi (d.1230 AH) – Mawdih al-Qur’an, p.162.
- Imam Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Dahlawi (d.1239 AH) – Tafsir ‘Azizi, p.172-173.
- Qadi al-Shawkani (d.1250 AH) – Fath al-Qadir, under 31:34.
- Shaykh Nawab Qutb al-Din Khan Dahlawi (d.1279 AH) – Mazahir al-Haq, 1:24.
- ‘Allamah ‘Abd al-Haq Haqqani Dahlawi (d.1336 AH) – ‘Aqaid al-Islam, p. 155.
- 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.
- Pir Mehr ‘Ali Shah Golri (d.1352 AH) – Shams al-Hidayah, p.66; Iyla Kalimatillah, p.115.
- Shaykh Muhammad ‘Ali Sabuni – Safwat al-Tafasir, 1:486.
- 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)
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-Qur’an, 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, 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
 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)
 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)
 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.
 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)
 Taken from English translation by Franz Rosenthal, Princeton.
 ‘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)