Part 2: Refutation of Munawwar and his Article on Ilm al-Ghayb

by Zameelur Rahman

Munawwar replied to some parts that were mentioned against his article here:

will address a few technical errors and objections to his article:

1. He refers to al-Alusi to prove the claim that verse 16:89 of the Qur’an refers to literally every single thing in creation (pp. 3-4). AlthoughAlusi does attribute this view to “some of them” (ba’duhum), he does not specify any exegete or scholar in particular. And in fact slightly earlier he states: “The majority of the exegetes have taken the view of specifying [“thing” to matters of need and religion], and that was narrated from Mujahid.”

ذهب أكثر المفسرين إلى اعتبار التخصيص وروي ذلك عن مجاهد

Alusi clearly states Mujahid did specify the verse [and this is narrated from him with sound chains from Tabari’s tafsir under the verse] contrary to Munawwar’s assertion that the early exegetes did not. And he makes it absolutely clear that this is the view of the vast majority of the exegetes, and this is plainly clear if you search the tafsir of the verse from every tafsir of the database. Tabari, Zamakhshari, Razi, Qurtubi, Baydawi, Jalal al-Din Mahalli and Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti, Fayruzabadi, Shawkani, Baghawi, Khazin, Ibn al-Jawzi, al-Nasafi, Abu Hayyan, Abu al-Sa’ud, Isma’il al-Haqqi, Tabrani and other mufassirun all specified the verse.

Munawwar dishonestly claims about Alusi’s tafsir “He then quotes statements of Imam Ibn al-Arabi, Sayyiduna Ali, Imam Suyuti and Imam Mursi, and Sayyiduna Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud and Ibn Abbas (May Allah be pleased with them all) on the generality of this verse.” Alusi does no such thing. Rather, he says this tafsir is supported (yu’ayyidu) by specific things reported from those individuals, and he does not quote any of them stating the tafsir of this verse is what he mentioned.

Regarding Ibn al-‘Arabi, Alusi mentions that he extracted certain information about the future from the Qur’an as did ‘Ali (radiy Allahu ‘anhu), although he gives no information as to the authenticity of these attributions. As Mufti Shafi’ mentions in his tafsir, however, this does not contradict the majority-view that “all things” refers to religious matters, as these informations that are extracted are based on allusions and hints and not therefore included in the “exposition/explanation” (tibyan).

Munawwar claims Alusi quotes from “Imam al-Suyuti and Imam Mursi…on the generality of this verse.” Neither Imam al-Suyuti nor al-Mursi is quoted in relation to the verse, rather Imam al-Suyuti is quoted quoting al-Mursi saying the following: “The Qur’an gathers the sciences of the earlier and later peoples, in a manner by which none encompasses it by true knowledge except its Speaker [i.e. Allah], and then the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) except what He (سبحانه) preferred for Himself.”

وقد نقل الجلال السيوطي عن المرسي أنه قال: جمع القرآن علوم الأولين والآخرين بحيث لم يحط بها علماً حقيقة إلا المتكلم به ثم رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم خلا ما استأثر به سبحانه

This statement in fact proves “restriction” as Mursi says although the Qur’an contains the knowledge of the earlier and later peoples, only Allah can truly comprehend this knowledge in His speech, and the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) was also given this knowledge but with certain exceptions. This is therefore not in support of Munawwar’s claim. Mursi’s quote continues to say: “Then the masters of the Sahabah like the four calphs and like Ibn ‘Abbas and Ibn Mas’ud inherited from him (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) most of that [i.e. not all of it].”

ثم ورث عنه معظم ذلك سادات الصحابة وأعلامهم مثل الخلفاء الأربعة ومثل ابن عباس وابن مسعود

Thus, in Mursi’s statement (which is also the source of the attribution of this view to ibn ‘Abbas and ibn Mas’ud), there is restriction after restriction. Munawwar’s claim that Alusi “then quotes statements of Imam Ibn al-Arabi, Sayyiduna Ali, Imam Suyuti and Imam Mursi, and Sayyiduna Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud and Ibn Abbas (May Allah be pleased with them all) on the generality of this verse,” is therefore no doubt a lie.

2. On page 9 and 14, he refers to a statement from Mujahid recorded in Ibn Abi Hatim’s tafsir regarding verse 6:154. Ibn Abi Hatim’s tafsir is available for download here. The particular narration is no. 8115 which comes through a route with questionable narrators [Muhammad ibn Muslim al-Ta’ifi about whom al-‘Asqalani says in al-Taqrib “reliable, but erring in his memory;” and Khusayf ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman about whom al-‘Asqalani says “reliable, bad memory, he became mixed-up towards his end, and he was accused of irja.”] Furthermore, if this narration must mean that “an explanation of all things” in 6:154 is taken generally and literally according to Mujahid, it would contradict the narration narrated by Ibn Abi Hatim immediately after this one also from Mujahid (but which Munawwar conveniently ignored) with a sound chain of narration [all the narrators are narrators of all six of the major collections of hadith, except Ibn Abi Hatim’s shaykh who is saduq according to Misbah al-Arib]: “‘of all things’ i.e. what they were commanded and what they were forbidden.” This is a clear authentic tafsir from Mujahid on the specification of this verse also just as he specified 16:89, and al-Tabari narrates many similar narrations under verse (6:154) from others of the Salaf.

3. On page 15, he says regarding the tafsir of Ibn Mas’ud I referred to in my first post above and showed its chain is weak: “Firstly, this tafsir is narrated by scholars other than al-Tabari too. Imam Kattani (p. 285) relies on this tafsir quoting Ibn Abi Hatim in addition to al-Tabari. It is a basic concept in Usul al-Hadith that if a chain is proven weak it does not ultimately weaken the wording narrated as there can be other chains to the wording too.” A weak chain can be strengthened by a supporting chain but Munawwar offers no evidence how the chain of al-Tabari’s is strenghtened by any other supporting chain, but leaves it to the reader to check up the other reference to Ibn Abi Hatim. In his tafsir of 16:89, Ibn Abi Hatim refers to a tafsir of Ibn Mas’ud as follows: “Indeed Allah revealed in this book an explanation for all things, and we know some from what He explained to us in the Qur’an, then he recited “And We revealed to you the Book as an explanation for all things,” and he said: via the Sunnah.” (no. 12632) This in fact supports restriction as Ibn Mas’ud is reported to say the explanation of all things come via the Sunnah. More importantly, however, Ibn Abi Hatim does not provide a chain for this report and instead mentions it without chain (mu’allaq). Therefore, this tafsir from Ibn Mas’ud, as narrated by al-Tabari, remains weak due to the defects (da’f and jahala) in the three narrators I mentioned in my first post. Munawwar ostentatiously repeatedly refers to a “rich Islamic intellectual tradition” that he supposedly inherited and from which the “Deobandis” are deprived, yet he can’t assess the weakness or strength of a narration using that intellectual tradition as evident in these last two points, and he lies about it – as evident from the first point – in order to support his sectarian leader’s view.

4. On page 17, he refers to my earlier quote from al-Baydawi and then wrongly imputes [either due to ignorance or dishonesty] an opinion to the commentator of al-Baydawi, al-Shihab al-Khafaji. The particular commentary can be found here (volume 5 of ‘Inayat al-Qadi) on p. 362. Munawwar says, al-Shihab al-Khafaji criticised al-Baydawi’s view with the objection that “His (i.e. Baydawi’s) assertion “from the matters of religion” is a restriction that this place (i.e. verse) does not require,” whereas in fact al-Khafaji said this quoting a second tafsir, and in fact refutes it based on the fact that Baydawi’s tafsir is required by the context – the exact opposite of what Munawwar imputed to him! Al-Shihab al-Khafaji’s commentary, translated, is as follows:

Baydawi said [in commentary of 16:89]: “of all things from the matters of religion in detail or summary by reference to the Sunnah and Qiyas.”Al-Shihab al-Khafaji comments:He preferred this [meaning] so kull (all) remains on its literal meaning. However, he specified the generality of shay’ (thing) by a qualification or description [i.e. “from the matters of religion”] that is determined by the indication of the context, and that is that the sending of prophets (upon them peace) [which is referred to in the same verse] was only to explain religion, and for this reason, he (upon him peace) said: “You are more learned about the matters of your world,” and for this reason they were answered regarding the new moons with what they were answered [a reference to Qur’an 2:189 where the Sahabah asked about the new moons, probably from a scientific perspective, and the answer they received was from a religious perspective].

It was said: kull is for abundance (takthir) and magnification (tafkhim) [and not literally “all”] as in His statement: “It shall annihilate everything by the command of its Lord” (46:25), since what is in the encompassment and generalisation [of kull] is found in tibyan of exaggerated explanation [and not complete explanation], and that his statement “from the matters of religion” is a specification not required by the context [this latter portion is what Munawwar quotes and is in fact from the statement of the one from whom “it was said” and is not al-Khafaji’s own statement].

You know the refutation of the second [opinion] [i.e. that it is in fact required by the context – a reference to his earlier comment that the context does require it]. As for the first, it may be contested by [saying] that that [verse] is in accordance with quantity not quality. Each one [of these opinions] have their perspective [a reference to Qur’an 2:148] and that which gives preference to the first [i.e. Baydawi’s commentary] is kull is kept in its literal meaning in the sentence.

It is clear, therefore, Munawwar not only lied about Alusi’s passage referred to in the first point above, but also misread or lied about this passage from al-Khafaji’s commentary. That, in my opinion, is not representative of our lofty scholarly tradition, which Munawwar boasts having monopoly over.

5. Finally, Munawwar does not see the irony in his statement on p. 6: “When will the Deobandis refrain from repugnant fatwas of innovation on the major scholars of this ummah? It is about time that they realise the implications of these knee-jerk fatwas.” Most of the above posts were to demonstrate that Munawwar’s support of the fatwas of kufr were based on a clear misreading and misrepresentation of the passages from the scholars he quoted; furtheremore, they show the correct definition of ‘ilm al-ghayb from the scholars of the Hanafi school, and how this supports the views of Mawlana Gangohi, Thanawi and others. Isn’t it about time that the Shi’a/Qadiyani-influenced Berelwi school [if he is allowed to say “Wahhabi-influenced Deobandi school”…] realise the implications of their reckless fatwas of takfir?

The above was not meant as a rebuttal to Munawwar’s view regarding the tafsir of verse 16:89 [although Alusi’s comment above about the majority view on takhsis should be sufficient to know the safest stance in this matter], but an illustration of his disingenuousness to have monopoly over the Islamic tradition – while lying about and misreading that very tradition – and his supposed carefulness in issuing fatwas of tabdi’ and takfir while his last article was full of it and when refuted in the above posts, not only does he not address it, he claims his “opponents” are reckless knee-jerk tabdi’is. His entire approach is fake, as there is no doubt his purpose is to defame “Deobandis” and support Ahmad Rida Khan’s strange opinions, and yet he pretends his writings are a result of his being true to the rich scholarly tradition he supposedly inherited!

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