Qāḍī Thanāullāh Pānipatī (1731 – 1810) was a foremost student of Shāh Waliyyullāh al-Dehlawī (1703 – 1762) in external sciences and Mirzā Maẓhar Jānejān Naqshbandī (1699 – 1781) in esoteric sciences. The latter regarded Qāḍī Thanāullāh very highly, and gave him the title “‘alam al-hudā” (landmark of guidance), and said “If Allāh asks for a gift to present in His court, I will present Thanāullah.” Shāh Abdul Azīz referred to him as “Bayhaqī al-Waqt” (Nuzhat al-Khawāṭir, p. 942) Qāḍī Thanāullāh Pānipatī was known for his deep knowledge and for his piety and acts of devotion. He would pray 100 rak‘ats nafl each day, recite a seventh of the Qur’ān each day, along with other daily adhkār. He authored several works, including the very popular Mā Lā Budda Minhu and a Tafsīr named after his shaykh, al-Tafsīr al-Maẓharī.
He opposed ignorant beliefs about prophets and saints, including beliefs that would today be associated with the Barelwis. He authored a work called Irshād al-Ṭālibīn on the subject of wilāyah (sainthood) and the misconceptions people have about wilāyah. The work was initially written in Arabic and then he translated it to Farsi. When censuring the excesses people engage in with regards to Awliyā, he writes:
Ruling: Just as it is impermissible to fall short in the ādāb towards the shaykh, going into excess, trespassing the bounds, in this is also a great evil, which results in falling short in the ādāb afforded to the Divine Presence. Christians went into such excess in veneration of ‘Īsa (upon him peace) that they regard him to be the son of God! This results in falling short in ādāb afforded to Allāh Most Exalted. The Rāfiḍīs have adopted excess in venerating Haḍrat ‘Alī (Allāh ennoble his face). Thus, some say that God Most Exalted dwelled in him, some say revelation came to him and some say he is better than the three Companions [Abū Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthmān], which results in falling short in ādāb towards God Most Exalted, the Messenger of God (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) or the three Companions.
Ruling: The Awliyā’ do not have ‘Ilm al-Ghayb. Yes, in connection to some unseen things, by way of breaking the norm, they are given knowledge via kashf or ilhām. To say that the Awliyā Kirām have knowledge of Ghayb is Kufr. Allāh Most Exalted said: ‘Say: I do not say to you I have the treasures of Allāh, nor do I know the Ghayb.’ And Allah Most Exalted said: ‘They do not encompass anything from His Knowledge but what He chooses.’ Other verses prove this thesis also.
Ruling: If someone says that God and His Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) are witness to this matter, he becomes Kāfir. The Awliyā Kirām are not capable of creating from nonexistence nor abolishing from existence. Thus, in connection to creating, abolishing, bringing sustenance, granting children, removing calamity, granting cure to illness etc., requesting help from them is Kufr; just as Allāh Most Exalted states in the Qur’ān Majīd: ‘Say I do not possess profit for myself nor harm, besides what Allāh chooses.’
Ruling: It is not permissible to make ‘ibādah of anyone besides God. Nor is it permissible to ask help of anyone besides God. ‘You alone we worship and You alone we ask for help.’ Allāh is teaching His slaves to say that we worship only you, and ask help only of you. Iyyāka is for exclusivity. Thus, to make offerings (nadhr) to Awliyā Kirām is not allowed, because such offerings are worship. If someone makes such an offering, he should not fulfil it, because it is necessary to safeguard oneself from sin as far as possible. It is not permissible to circulate graves, because Ṭawāf of Baytullāh shares the ruling of Ṣalāh.
Ruling: Supplicating to the deceased or living Awliyā or Anbiyā’ is not permissible. Rasūlullāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) said: ‘Supplication is worship.’ Then he recited the verse: ‘Supplicate to Me, I will answer you. Indeed those who disdain My worship will enter Jahannam, humiliated.’
Ruling: The statements of the ignorant ones: ‘Yā Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qādir al-Jīlānī shay’an lillāh’ and ‘Yā Khawāja Shams al-Dīn al-Pānipatī shay’an lillah’ (‘Oh Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qādir al-Jīlānī give something for the sake of Allāh’, and ‘Oh Khawāja Shams al-Din Pānipatī give something for the sake of Allāh’) are not permissible. In fact, they are Shirk and Kufr. But if someone says: ‘Oh my Lord, through the mediation of Khawāja Shams al-Dīn Pānipatī, fulfil the following need of mine’ then there is no harm. Allāh Most Exalted says: ‘Those they call upon besides Allah are slaves like you.’ If someone argues this is regarding the Kuffār who invoke their idols, the answer is ‘besides Allāh’ is a general expression, and it is the [generality of the] expression that is given consideration not the specific context. (Irshād al-Tālibīn, Urdu translation, Maṭba‘ Asrār Karīmī p. 22-24)
In his popular work, Mā Lā Budda Minhu, he writes at the end of the section on Janā’iz:
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 ḥarām; rather some of these matters lead to Kufr. The Messenger of Allāh, may peace and blessings of Allāh 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. (Mā Lā Budda Minhu, Maktabah Raḥmāniyyah, p.82)