Imkān al-Kidhb and the Arab Scholars

December 31, 2018

In al-Muhannad ‘ala l-Mufannad, a work completed in Shawwāl of 1325 AH (1907 CE), ‘Allāmah Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī described the beliefs of the ‘Ulamā’ of Deoband in matters that they were alleged to have parted from the Ahl al-Sunnah. The work comprises of 26 questions and answers.

He discusses the topic of “imkān al-kidhb” under questions 23, 24 and 25. Questions 24 and 25 are particularly relevant to the subject, a translation of which is produced below:

Question Twenty-Four

Do you believe in the possibility of the occurrence of falsehood in a statement from the Speech of the Master (Great and Glorious is His Transcendence). If not, what then is your opinion?

Answer

We and our elders (Allah Most High have mercy on them) declare and are convinced that all speech that issued from the Creator (Great and Glorious is He) or will issue from Him is absolutely truthful, and it is certain that it concurs with reality. Undoubtedly, there is no trace of falsehood in any part of His (Exalted is He) Speech, nor any doubt about [the absence of] contravening reality [in His Speech]. Whoever believes contrary to this or conceives of a lie in any part of His Speech is a disbeliever, apostate and heretic, and does not have even a trace of faith.

Question Twenty-Five

Have you ascribed the view of “imkān al-kadhib” (the possibility of lying) to some of the Ash‘arīs? If so, what is meant by this? And do you have a proof-text for this view from the reliable scholars? Explain the matter to us as it is.

Answer

This began as a dispute between us and the Indian logicians and innovators about the ability of the Creator (Transcendent is He) to act contrary to what He promised, informed, intended, etc. They said that acting contrary to these things is negated from Allah’s Ancient Power (qudrah qadīmah), hypothetically impossible (mustaḥīl ‘aqlan), impossible to exist within His ability, and it is necessary for Him [to act] in accordance with His promise, report, intent and knowledge.

We said: Such things are certainly within His ability but their occurrence (wuqū‘) is not possible according to the Ahl al-Sunnah wa l-Jamā‘ah, namely the Ash‘ārīs and Māturīdīs, textually and logically according to the Māturīdīs, and only textually according to the Ash‘arīs.

They objected that if it were possible that these things are included within the Power, it would entail the possibility of falsehood and this is certainly not in His ability and is intrinsically impossible (mustaḥīl dhātan).

We responded using a variety of answers from the kalām-scholars, of which was:

Even if the concomitance of the possibility of falsehood in acting contrary to the promise, reports etc. in His ability is accepted, it too is not intrinsically impossible, rather, like oppression and impudence, it is intrinsically within the Power, but it is textually and logically impossible, or just textually, as several imāms have espoused.

When they saw these responses, they caused corruption in the land and attributed to us [the position of] allowing imperfections (naqṣ) in relation to His Holiness (Blessed and Exalted is He), and they spread this accusation amongst the foolish and the ignorant to create enmity in the common people and to seek enjoyment and popularity amongst men. They reached the roads of the heavens in fabrication when they fabricated an image from themselves on the actuality (fi’liyyah) of falsehood [and ascribed it to us] without fearing the Knowing King. When Indians became aware of their scheming, they sought help from the noble ‘ulamā’ of the two Sanctuaries because they know they are ignorant of their evil and the reality of the views of our ‘ulamā’.

Their likeness is but the likeness of the Mu‘tazilah as compared with the Ahl al-Sunnah wa l-Jamā‘ah since they [i.e. the Mu’tazilah] excluded rewarding the sinner (ithābat al-‘āṣī) and punishing the obedient (‘iqāb al-muṭī’) from the Pre-Eternal Power and made justice (‘adl) necessary for Allāh’s essence. They called themselves “the advocates of justice and transcendence” and they attributed injustice, unconscientiousness and ugliness to the ‘ulamā’ of Ahl al-Sunnah wa l-Jamā‘ah. So just as the predecessors of Ahl al-Sunnah wa l-Jamā‘ah did not mind their ignorance and did not permit inability in relation to Him (Transcendent and Exalted is He!) in the aforementioned injustice, and broadened the Pre-Eternal Power while also removing imperfections from His Noble Absolute Self and perfecting the transcendence and sanctity of His Lofty Holiness, saying, “Your understanding of the possibility of the ability to punish the obedient and reward the sinner as an imperfection is but the consequence of [following] despicable philosophers”; in the same way, we say to them, “Your understanding of the ability to act contrary to the promise, report and truth and the likes of them as an imperfection, while their issuance (ṣudūr) from Him (Exalted is He) is impossible, only textually, or rationally and textually, is but the misfortune of philosophy and logic and your adverse ignorance.”

They do what they do because of the absolute transcendence [of Allāh], but they are unable to perfect the Power and broaden it. As for our predecessors, the Ahl al-Sunnah wa l-Jamā‘ah, they combined between the two matters, of widening the Power and perfecting transcendence for the Necessary Existent (Transcendent and Exalted is He).

This is what we mentioned in al-Barāhīn in summary-form, and here are some of the proof-texts in support of it from the relied upon books of the madhhab:

(1) It says in Sharḥ al-Mawāqif:

“All the Mu‘tazila and Khawārij make punishing the one who incurs a major sin necessary when he dies without repentance and they do not allow Allāh to pardon him for two reasons. First, He (Exalted is He) made it a promise to punish major sins and informed [us] of this i.e. punishment because of it, so if He does not punish for a major sin and pardons, it would entail reneging on His threat and falsehood in His speech, which are impossible. The answer is, the conclusion of this [argument] is that punishment will [actually] occur, so where is the [intrinsic] necessity of punishment, on which is our discussion, since there is no doubt that non-necessity [of punishment] along with [its] occurrence does not entail reneging and falsehood? It cannot be said that it entails their possibility which is also impossible, because we say: its impossibility is not accepted. How so, when they [reneging on a threat and stating something false] are from the possibilities included in His (Exalted is He) Power?”

(2) In Sharḥ al-Maqāsid by ‘Allamah al-Taftāzāni (Allāh Most High have mercy on him) at the end of the discussion on Power:

“The deniers of the inclusiveness of His Power are many groups; of them are al-Naẓẓām and his [Mu‘tazilī] followers who say that He does not have power over foolishness, falsehood and oppression and all ugly acts (qabā’iḥ), for if their creation were in His capacity, their issuance (ṣudūr) from Him would be possible, and this concomitant (lāzim) is false because it results in impudence (safah) if He knows the ugliness of this and its dispensability, and in ignorance if He is not knowing.

“The response is: We do not concede the ugliness of a thing in relation to Him, how [can we accept this] when He is in complete control of His kingdom? And if it is conceded, Power over it does not negate the impossibility of its issuance from Him, by consideration of the presence of disposal and the absence of need, even if it is possible (mumkinan).”

(3) It says in al-Musāyarah and its commentary al-Musāmarah by ‘Allāmah al-Muḥaqqiq Kamāl ibn al-Humām al-Ḥanafi and his student Ibn Abi l-Sharīf al-Maqdisī al-Shāfi‘ī (Allāh Most High have mercy on them):

“Then he i.e. the author of Al-’Umdah said, ‘Allah (Exalted is He) is not characterised by Power over oppression, impudence and falsehood because the impossible is not included in [His] Power, i.e. it is improper for it to pertain to them, while according to the Mu’tazilah, He (Exalted is He) is capable of all that but does not do [them].’ End quote from Al-‘Umda.

“It appears as though he altered that which he transmitted from the Mu‘tazilah, since there is no doubt that the absence of power over what was mentioned is the madhhab of the Mu‘tazilah. As for its presence, i.e. power over what was mentioned, and then abstention from pertaining to them by choice, it is more fitting to the madhhab, i.e. it the madhhab of the Ash‘aris, than it is to the madhhab of the Mu‘tazilah. It is obvious that this more fitting position is also included in transcendence, since there is no doubt that abstention therefrom i.e. from those things mentioned of oppression, impudence and falsehood, is from the matter of transcendence, from that which does not befit the majesty of His Holiness (Exalted is He).

“Hence, it should be understood by the foregone premise, i.e. the intellect understands, which of the two views are more excessive in transcendence from indecencies: is it power over it, i.e. what was mentioned from the three matters, along with impossibility, i.e. His abstention from it by choosing that abstention; or its impossibility from Him because of the absence of power over it? It is incumbent to rely on the more inclusive of the two statements in transcendence, which is the statement more fitting to the madhhab of the Ash‘aris.”

(4) In Ḥawāshī al-Kalnabawī ‘alā Sharḥ al-‘Aqā’id al-Aḍuḍiyyah by al-Muḥaqqiq al-Dawwānī (Allāh Most High have mercy on them):

In sum, lying being ugly in the uttered-speech (al-kalām al-lafẓi), in the sense that it is an attribute of deficiency, is not accepted according to the Ash‘arīs. That is why al-Sharīf al-Muḥaqqiq (al-Jurjānī) said it is from the totality of the possibilities (mumkināt), and acquiring decisive knowledge of its non-occurrence in His speech by consensus of the scholars and the Prophets (upon them be peace) does not negate its intrinsic possibility like all decisive knowledge of normal occurrences (al-‘ulūm al-‘adiyah) and it does not negate what Imām al-Rāzī said…”.

(5) In Taḥrīr al-Uṣūl by the author of Fatḥ al-Qadīr, Imām ibn al-Humām, and its commentary by Ibn Amir al-Hajj (Allah Most High have mercy on them):

“Therefore – i.e. since whatever is conceived as a deficiency is impossible for Him – the decisiveness of the impossibility of characterising Him – i.e. Allāh (Exalted is He) – with lying and the like of it (Transcendent is He beyond that) becomes apparent. Also, if His act being characterised by ugliness was possible, confidence in the integrity of His promise, the integrity of His speech besides it – i.e. [besides] His (Exalted is He) promise – and the integrity of His Prophets would be removed – i.e. in principle, His integrity would be uncertain.

“According to the Ash‘arīs, He (Exalted is He) is certainly not characterised by ugly acts, but they are not rationally impossible, like all of creation. [This is] just like all the sciences in which one of two opposites being the reality is certain, but the other is not impossible, if it were assumed that it is the reality; just like the certainty of Mecca and Baghdad – i.e. their existence – since their non-existence is not rationally impossible. Therefore – i.e. when the matter is such – confidence [in the integrity of His word] being removed is not necessitated because the possibility of something rationally does not necessitate not having firm resolve of its non-existence.

“The running dispute regarding the rational impossibility and possibility of this applies to all faults – is Allah’s power over it absent or is it, i.e. the fault, contained in it, i.e. His Power? He will certainly not do it, i.e. the absolutely decisive condition is the fault will not be done…”

Similar statements to what we quoted from the madhhab of the Ash‘arīs are mentioned by al-Qāḍī al-‘Aḍuḍ in Sharḥ Mukhtaṣar al-Uṣūl and the commentators on it, as well as in Sharḥ al-Mawāqif and the marginalia to al-Mawāqif by al-Chalabī, and others. Similarly, ‘Allamah al-Qushjī in Sharḥ al-Tajrīd, al-Qunawi and others stated this. We avoided quoting their texts fearing prolixity and tedium. Allāh has charge of right guidance and right direction. (al-Muhannad ‘ala l-Mufannad, Dār al-Fatḥ, p. 87-96)

These answers were then sent to prominent Arab scholars of that era, who endorsed them. Some of these prominent Arab scholars include:

  1. Shaykh Muḥammad Sa‘īd Bābuṣayl al-Makkī (d. 1912), the Shāfi‘ī Muftī of Makkah and one of its leading scholars at the time. He wrote: “I have studied these answers by the perspicacious erudite scholar to the answers mentioned in this treatise and I found them to be at the peak of correctness, may Allāh (Exalted is He) repay the answerer, my brother and dear one, the unique Shaykh Khalīl Aḥmad, may He continue his fortune and reverence in both worlds, and may He break the heads of the misguided and the jealous by him to the Day of Judgement. [I ask this] through the status of the Messengers, āmīn.” (ibid. p. 115)
  2. Sayyid Aḥmad al-Barzanjī (d. 1919), the Shāfi‘ī Muftī of Madīnah, who wrote an entire treatise in response to Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī’s request to give his assessment on the answers. The treatise is called: Kamāl al-Tathqīf wa l-Taqwīm li ‘Iwaj al-Afhām ‘ammā Yajib li Kalāmillāh al-Qadīm. He wrote at the end of the treatise: “Once the discussion has reached this stage, we make a general comprehensive statement for all the answers of the treatise comprising of 26 answers, which the respected erudite scholar Shaykh Khalīl Aḥmad presented to us to inspect and consider the judgements therein: We indeed do not find in there any view that necessitates disbelief or innovation. Nor anything that is to be criticised for whatever reason, besides these three places which we mentioned, and there is nothing there too that necessitates disbelief or innovation as you are aware from our discussion about them. It is known that every scholar who compiles a book will not be safe from slips in some places of his speech.”

The bulk of Sayyid Barzanjī’s treatise is on the topic of imkān al-kidhb, as reflected by its title. He thus states: “The reason I gave it this title is that the answers which he gave to these questions, although diverse and related to various rules of both peripherals and principles, the most important of them is the one related to the necessity of truthfulness in Allāh’s self and spoken speech. Due to this importance, I give priority to this discussion over other answers…After having realised this adequate clarification and comprehending it with sound sufficient understanding, you know that what the respected Shaykh Khalīl Aḥmad mentioned in answers 23, 24 and 25, is a recognised position in the reliable widely-circulated books of the latter-day ‘Ulamā’ of Kalām like al-Mawāqif, al-Maqāṣid, Shurūḥ al-Tajrīd, al-Musayārah and so on. The outcome of these answers that Shaykh Khalīl Aḥmad mentioned is in agreement with the aforementioned ‘Ulamā’ of Kalām on it being within the ability of Allāh (Exalted is He) to go against the promise and threat and the truthful report in the spoken speech, which according to them necessitates intrinsic possibility, while there is certainty and conviction on it not occurring. This much does not entail disbelief, obstinacy, nor innovation in religion nor corruption. How so when you know the statement of the ‘Ulamā’ that we mentioned agreeing with it? As you saw in the statement of Mawāqif and its commentary which we cited earlier. Thus, Shaykh Khalīl Aḥmad has not come out of the parameters of their speech.” (ibid. p. 121 – 125)

The treatise is dated to Rabī‘ al-Awwal, 1329 H (1911), and was consigned by over 20 scholars of Madīnah.

  1. ‘Allāmah Sayyid Muḥammad Abu l-Khayr Ibn ‘Ābidīn (1853 – 1925), the grandson of the brother of the famous Ibn ‘Ābidīn, author of Radd al-Muḥtār. He was a notable scholar of Shām. He states that he has read the treatise and that its author has described the beliefs of Ahl al-Sunnah wa l-Jamā‘ah. (ibid. p. 130)
  2. Shaykh Muṣṭafā ibn Aḥmad al-Shaṭṭī al-Ḥanbalī (1856 – 1929), a prominent Ḥanbalī muftī and ṣūfī of Damascus, and author of a work refuting Wahhābīs. (ibid. p. 131)
  3. ‘Allāmah Maḥmūd al-‘Aṭṭār (1867 – 1943), a great scholar of Shām, and the most notable student of ‘Allāmah Sayyid Badr al-Dīn al-Ḥasanī (1851 – 1935). He writes: “I have come across this important work and found it to be a book comprising of all subtle and manifest [matters] in refutation of the innovated group of Wahhābīs, may Allāh (Exalted is He) increase the likes of its author.” (ibid. p. 132 – 133)

Mawlānā Manẓūr Nu‘mānī’s Sayf e Yamānī Bar Makā’id Firqah e RazāKhānī

December 29, 2018

Mawlānā Manẓūr Nu‘mānī (1905 – 1997) engaged the Barelwī menace early on in his career. One of the classical works that was a product of these early endeavours was one published in 1930 CE (1349 H), called Sayf e Yamānī bar Makā’id Firqah e RazāKhānī (The Yemeni Sword on the Deceptions of the RazaKhānī Sect). The work is available here:

https://ia800809.us.archive.org/20/items/SAIFEYAMANI_201710/SAIF_E_YAMANI.pdf

This is a thorough and detailed refutation of Barelwī allegations against the Deobandī school and its elders. It was written in response to a booklet called ‘Aqā’id Wahhābiyya Deobandiyya published towards the end of 1347 H (1929 CE), the author being a certain ‘Azīz Aḥmad Kānpūrī. The booklet was written in response to a write-up of Mawlānā Nu‘mānī himself called Kashf al-Ḥijāb. Thus, someone from Kanpur sent a copy to Mawlānā Nu‘mānī. Mawānā Nu‘mānī felt no need to respond since it was essentially a regurgitation of typical Barelwī allegations which had been answered time and again, but then the Barelwī author, ‘Azīz Aḥmad Kānpūrī, began to claim that Mawlānā Nu‘mānī was unable to answer. Thus, to allay this false impression and provide readers with an objective assessment of the evidences and the claims being made, Sayf e Yamānī was written.

Mawlānā Nu‘mānī’s detailed response to Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn called Fayṣlah Kun Munāẓarah (1933) has been translated and published online. See here:

https://barelwism.wordpress.com/2012/03/20/the-decisive-debate-mawlana-manzur-numani/

Parts of his response to allegations against Shāh Ismā‘īl Shahīd in a work called Ḥaḍrat Shāh Ismā’īl Shahīd aur Mu‘ānidīn Ahl e Bid‘at kā Ilzāmāt (1957) have also been summarised. See here:

https://barelwism.wordpress.com/2017/03/10/refuting-the-allegation-that-shah-ismail-said-allah-forbid-that-to-think-of-the-prophet-saw-in-salah-is-worse-than-thinking-of-animals/

https://barelwism.wordpress.com/2012/01/23/shah-ismail-calling-the-prophet-a-brother/

https://barelwism.wordpress.com/2012/01/23/shah-ismail-considering-the-prophet-lower-than-a-shoemaker/

https://barelwism.wordpress.com/2018/12/29/refuting-the-allegation-that-shah-ismail-shahid-denied-the-preservation-of-the-prophets-body/

https://barelwism.wordpress.com/2014/01/04/shah-ismail-the-belief-in-shafaah/

Sayf e Yamānī was written before both of these works, and was endorsed by several leading scholars.

While recounting his encounters with Ḥakīm al-Ummah Mawlānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī (1863 – 1943) in his autobiography Taḥdith e Ni‘mat, Mawlānā Nu‘mānī describes how he had apprised Ḥaḍrat Thānawī of the work before it was published in order to receive his feedback. Since this discussion is beneficial, we will produce a translation of the entire section below:

The writer of these lines [Mawlānā Manẓūr Nu‘mānī] wrote a comprehensive book in response to all the famous allegations and objections of the Barelwīs under the name Sayf e Yamānī. It included responses to several allegations and objections returning to Ḥaḍrat Thānawī, but the discussion on the dream of a devotee of Ḥaḍrat from Punjab was very detailed. Based on this [dream] a very serious propaganda was being made on the part of the Barelwīs against Ḥaḍrat on a wide scale, and hearing it many unthinking devotees were also becoming concerned on account of their ignorance. From special assistance and Tawfīq from Allāh Ta‘ālā the discussion in Sayf e Yamānī was such that in my view it was very satisfactory and the matter became completely clear from it. I had great satisfaction in this discussion, and was very happy that Allāh Ta‘ālā had given me the Tawfīq to [prepare] it.

Upon preparing this book Sayf e Yamānī, my heart wished that despite having no acquaintance with Ḥaḍrat Thānawī, I would request that he inspect this discussion and let me know his opinion. I had heard that Ḥaḍrat Ḥakīm al-Ummat very much disliked unnecessary length and forced formality even when writing [to someone]. Anything that is to be said or written should be done in a clear and direct manner using brief words according to the need. I sent a copy of Sayf e Yamānī to Ḥaḍrat via post and also wrote a letter, the content of which after honourable address and the sunnah greeting was:

“I have not acquired the privilege of being acquainted with Ḥaḍrat. Thus, Ḥaḍrat is probably completely unaware of me. I was a student of Dārul ‘Ulūm Deoband from a few years ago. Currently I am teaching some lessons at Madrasah Islamia at Amroha. Understanding it to be important Dīnī work, I have undertaken some work with the assistance and Tawfīq of Allāh Ta‘ālā to respond and refute the torrent of fitnah that the Barelwī group have raised against our Akābir. In connection to this I am currently writing a book. One copy I have sent in [your] service by post. If there is room within Ḥaḍrat’s schedule and engagement, and no disruption, I would hope that Ḥaḍrat Wālā would inspect the book or at least only the discussion which is regarding the famous dream of an individual in connection to Ḥaḍrat, which is from page so-and-so to page so-and-so of the book. Please inspect it and if not against your principles, and there is no kind of burden or disruption, then [I request] Ḥaḍrat to inform me of his respected view. If there is no room in his schedule, or inspection will cause disruption for whatever reason, I am not at all insisting. In this case, there is also no need to take the trouble to return the book. I have sent it in the service of Ḥaḍrat with only the intention of a gift. If accepted it will be a cause of favour and happiness for me. If not, please offer me any attention.”

This was my first ever letter in Ḥaḍrat Ḥakīm al-Ummat’s service. I had also put an envelope for a response. After four or five days Ḥaḍrat’s response came. According to his general principles he wrote the answer on the very same letter. The part of this letter that I remember that deserves mention is:

“Having read your letter, I was delighted by the fact that you wrote your need clearly and directly without any forced formality, and you kept in mind my schedule, principles and temperament. Because of this, du‘ā [for you] emerged from the heart. I am not unfamiliar with you. I keep hearing of you and your activities. Thus, I have a distant connection and love for you, and keep making du‘ā for you. To give you peace of mind, I write that I wholeheartedly accept your gift.

“I opened the book with the intention of glancing at it here and there, and to read in full the discussion related to the dream for which you wrote specifically. But when I started reading the book, I did not wish to leave out any part of it, and for as long as I did not complete the entire book, I did not engage in any other activities in between besides my established necessary activities. I was very happy with the entire book. Jazākumullāh khayrā! I read the discussion on the dream specifically with greater deliberation. Without pretence, I say that if I had myself tried I would not have been able to give such satisfying a clarification. May Allāh grant blessing in your life, knowledge and practice.”

Ḥaḍrat, according to his normal practice, wrote this on my very letter. It is unfortunate that this letter has not been preserved. But I remember the content of my letter and these parts of Ḥaḍrat’s response well, and I write this with the assistance of my memory. Apart from this, Ḥaḍrat wrote a short endorsement separately, which was published together with the book at that time. (Taḥdīth e Ni‘mat, p. 143-6)

Mawlānā Nu‘mānī continues to recount several occasions thereafter where he met with Ḥaḍrat Thānawī in person, beginning from a first meeting in 1931.

Endorsements

Some of the notable endorsers of the work are as follows:

  1. Ḥakīm al-Ummah Mawlānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī (1863 – 1943). He writes: “I have seen the treatise Sayf e Yamānī in full which was written in response to objections of some of the Ahl al-Ahwā’…May Allāh give the author excellent recompense and make the treatise a means of guidance.” (Sayf e Yamānī, p. 3)
  2. Shaykh al-Islām Mawlānā Shabbīr Aḥmad al-‘Uthmānī (1887 – 1949), author of a well-known commentary on Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, referred to as “Muḥaqqiq al-‘Aṣr” by ‘Allāmah Kawtharī and a champion for the cause of Pakistan. He says: “For a long time I had hoped that if a comprehensive treatise on the subject were written it would be very beneficial. Many times I had thought to write something myself but this reward is your share. Mā shā Allāh, the teachings and statements of the Akābir have been explained in simple, generally understood and easy expressions. If any harshness is sensed in any passage it is to be considered as part of: ‘take revenge after being wronged’. In my opinion it is our duty to make all effort to publicise it…” (ibid.)
  3. ‘Allāmah ‘Abd al-Shakūr al-Fārūqī al-Lakhnawī (1876 – 1962), a famous author and debater. He wrote several books against the Shī‘ah and in favour of Ahl al-Sunnah. He wrote a popular work on Ḥanafi Fiqh called Ilm al-Fiqh. He is a scion of the famous Firangī Maḥall school of Lucknow, having studied for about 7 years under Mawlānā ‘Ayn al-Quḍāt al-Ḥaydarābādī a famous successor of ‘Allāmah ‘Abd al-Ḥayy al-Laknawī, perhaps the most well-known of the Firangī Maḥall scholars. Hence, he is a non-Deobandī scholar contemporaneous with the founding of the Barelwī school, who opposed them. He says: “May Allāh give excellent reward to the author for having properly shed light on all the issues which are disputed between Ahl al-Sunnah wa l-Jamā‘ah and the new innovated sect RazāKhāniyyah.” He dated the endorsement to 29 Dhu l-Qadah, 1348 (1930). (ibid. p. 4)
  4. ‘Allāmah Sayyid Murtaḍā Ḥasan Chāndpūrī (1868 – 1951), who ‘Allāmah Kawtharī referred to as “the prominent teacher” in reference to his work against Qādiyānīs. He has several works in refutation of Barelwīs and Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī. He even sent some of his refutations directly to the latter.
  5. ‘Allāmah Ẓafar Aḥmad al-‘Uthmānī (1892 – 1974), the celebrated author of I‘lā al-Sunan. He wrote an endorsement in Arabic, part of which is: “I was honoured to read the treatise al-Sayf al-Yamānī, and by my life, it is like its name a sword cutting the necks of the people of desires and vain hopes. Indeed, its author did well and benefited and showed the people the ways of guidance…” (ibid. p. 5)
  6. ‘Allāmah Muḥaddith Ḥabīb al-Raḥmān al-A‘ẓamī (1901 – 1992), the famous scholar of ḥadīth.

Contents

‘Azīz Aḥmad Kānpūrī’s booklet consists of 30 so-called beliefs of the ‘Ulamā’ of Deoband and 22 questions. Mawlānā Nu’mānī thus addresses all the allegations and then answers each question.

Some of the important issues that are addressed are as follows:

  1. The passage from Barāhīn e Qāti‘ah about the knowledge of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him)
  2. The passage from Barāhīn Qāti‘ah describing a dream in which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) spoke Urdu
  3. The Deobandī position on Mawlid and ‘Urs, and the alleged “dissimulation” (taqiyya) of Deobandīs on this matter
  4. The title Raḥmatun lil ‘Ālamīn and whether it can be used for other than the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him)
  5. The meaning of “Khātamiyyah” and the finality of prophethood according to Deobandīs and Mawlānā Qāsim Nānotawī
  6. The dream of a devotee of Haḍrat Thānawī in which he mistakenly referred to the latter as “Rasūlullāh”
  7. A passage from Marthiya Gangohī describing Mawlānā Gangohī as “a second to Islām’s founder”
  8. The passage from Hifẓ al-Īmān on describing the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as ‘ālim al-ghayb
  9. The passage from Taḥdhīr al-Nās stating that deeds of an Ummatī can apparently be more numerous than those of their Prophets
  10. Imkān Kidhb
  11. Bid‘ah, its types and whether certain forms of īṣāl thawāb amount to bid‘ah

Some sections of the work may be translated/summarised in future posts, insha Allah.


Refuting the Allegation that Shah Isma’il Shahid Denied the Preservation of the Prophet’s Body

December 29, 2018

The fourth accusation Mawlana Nu’mani addresses in his book Hazrat Shah Isma’il Shahid aur Mu‘anidin Ahl e Bid‘at ka Ilzamat (pp. 70-81) is the accusation that Shah Isma’il denies the life of the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) in his grave. A summary of his reply is as follows:

First, in the passage in question, Shah Isma’il quotes the following narration:

Qays ibn Sa‘d (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated: I came to al-Hirah and I saw them prostrating to their governor, so I said [to myself]: “Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is more deserving of being prostrated to.” Then, I came to the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and I said to him: “Verily I went to al-Hirah and I saw them prostrating to their governor, while you, O Messenger of Allah, are more deserving of being prostrated to.” He said to me: “What is your opinion, if you were to pass by my grave, would you prostrate to it?” I said: “No.” He said: “Then don’t do [this].”

عن قيس بن سعد قال : أتيت الحيرة فرأيتهم يسجدون لمرزبان لهم فقلت : لرسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – أحق أن يسجد له ، فأتيت رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – فقلت : إني أتيت الحيرة فرأيتهم يسجدون لمرزبان لهم فأنت أحق بأن يسجد لك ، فقال لي : أرأيت لو مررت بقبرى أكنت تسجد له ؟ ” فقلت لا فقال : ” لا تفعلوا

(Abu Dawud)

What was the reason for the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) asking “What is your opinion, if you were to pass by my grave, would you prostrate to it”? The commentators have mentioned that the reason for this question was to illustrate that he is a mortal servant of Allah whose life upon the earth will end, and since this will be manifestly clear when he is in his grave, he asked this question. Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari said in the commentary: “‘He said to me’ – to demonstrate the greatness of lordship and realise the lowliness of servitude – ‘what is your opinion…'”

فقال لي ) : إظهارا لعظمة الربوبية وإشعارا لمذلة العبودية ( أرأيت

And then he quotes Tibi: “Meaning, prostrate to the Ever-Living One Who does not die, and Whose Dominion does not end, for you only prostrate to me now out of awe and reverence, for indeed when I am confined to the grave, this will end”

قال الطيبي – رحمه الله – : أي اسجدوا للحي الذي لا يموت ولمن ملكه لا يزول فإنك إنما تسجد لي الآن مهابة وإجلالا ، فإذا كنت رهين رمس امتنعت عنه

The upshot of these commentaries is that the question was asked in order to show the greatness of the everlasting and unperishing lordship of Allah, and the lowness of of the mortality and servitude of His creatures. Shah Isma’il’s exact statement in the commentary of the above hadith is:

ya’ni meh bhi eik din mur kur mutti meh milne wala ho, to kob sajdah ke laiq ho; sajdah to isi zat pak ko he keh neh mure kubhi

Translation: “Meaning, I will also one day die and mix with the earth when I will be undeserving of prostration. Prostration is for only such a Being that never dies.”

[This also illustrates the dishonesty of the Salafi translation GF Haddad used – there is no mention of an “eternal sleep”]

Mawlana Nu’mani says, the original text clearly says will “mix with the earth,” (mutti meh milne) and not will “become earth” (mutti ho jane), and in old Urdu “mixing with the earth” means to be buried in the grave (qabr meh dafn ho neh). Then he cites a couple of Urdu dictionaries which clearly state one of the recognised meanings of “mutti meh milne” is “being buried” (see p. 76 of the book). Mawlana Safdar mentions in Ibarat Akabir that Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi was asked about this passage from Taqwiyat al-Iman, and he replied that the phrase “mix with the earth” has both possibile meanings of “disintegration” and “burial,” and he says it was the latter that was meant by Shah Isma’il. And such a meaning is clearly consistent with the commentaries of Mulla Qari and Tibi above.


Majority of Nonpartisan Ulama of the Subcontinent Opposed Ahmad Rida Khan’s Takfir of the Four Deobandi Akabir

December 24, 2018

Bara’at al-Abrar ‘an Maka’id al-Ashrar is a work written by Mawlana Abdur Ra’uf Khan Jaganpuri Faizabadi in the 1930s, in which the author collected the fatawa and signatures of hundreds of nonpartisan scholars throughout the subcontinent opposing the takfir of Ahmad Rida Khan Barelwi, and affirming that the Ulama of Deoband are “Sunni Hanafis” and unconnected to Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab/Wahhabis. It was written as a refutation of Hashmat Ali Khan and his al-Sawarim al-Hindiyya.

The work includes fatwas from established Darul Iftaas of the states of Tonk, Bhopal, Bahawalpur etc. (in undivided British India).

The work (first published in 1934) is available here:

https://ia601607.us.archive.org/13/items/BaraatUlAbraHighQuality/Baraat%20Ul%20Abrar%20High%20Quality.pdf

 


Mufti Abdul Ghani Patialvi’s al-Junnah li Ahlissunnah

December 23, 2018

Mufti Abdul Ghani Patialvi, who was the headmaster at one of the famous Deobandi Madaris located in Delhi, Madrasa Aminia (where Mufti Kifayatullah Dehlawi famously taught), wrote a work against Barelwis called al-Junna li Ahlissunnah, available here:

https://ia600601.us.archive.org/18/items/Al-Junnah-Li-Ahlus-Sunnah/Al-Junnah-Li-Ahlus-Sunnah-Compressed.pdf

The title was suggested by Mawlana Ashraf Ali Thanawi, who endorsed the book. It was also endorsed by Mufti Kifayatullah Dehlawi.

The work consists of three separate books/chapters written in the 1920s and 1930s. The first is a defence of Shah Isma’il Shahid; the second is a response to Ahmad Rida Khan’s allegations against the four Akabir; and the third is on the topic of innovation (bid’ah). There is also a lengthy introduction which refutes the claim that Shah Isma’il Shahid was influenced by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, a “foreign person, whose integrity and knowledge is unknown.” (al-Junnah, p. 14) Indeed, all of Shah Isma’il’s positions that supposedly reflect influence by Wahhabis are found explicitly in the writings of his predecessors (ibid.), like Shah Waliullah Dehlawi, Shah Abdul Aziz Dehlawi and Qadi Thanaullah Panipati. Extensive quotes from these scholars and others are presented to show that they were Shah Isma’il’s sources, not Wahhabis. A detailed description is also provided on the nature of the beliefs of the common and ignorant Muslims that Shah Isma’il was addressing. Shah Isma’il’s liberal usage of the term “shirk” is also discussed – that he sometimes meant true shirk and sometimes an action associated with mushrikun though not true shirk.


Lies of Asrar Rashid

December 20, 2018

Ahmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī (1856 – 1921) and his successors, known as “Barelwis”, had/have a penchant for distorting texts/history to paint their opponents in a bad light, and even to make completely unjustified takfīr of them.

This tradition is upheld by English-speaking Barelwi preachers in the west. One such preacher is Asrar Rashid of Birmingham, UK. He has openly attacked Deobandis, a group of Sunnī Ḥanafī scholars who Barelwis treat as their greatest opponents. In doing so, Asrar Rashid has had to resort to distortions and falsifications just like his Barelwi predecessors. The following will document ten such lies/distortions that have surfaced from only a few of Asrar Rashid’s talks. If someone had the will and energy to scour through other talks of his, who knows how many more lies would be uncovered?

The following is a short summary of these ten lies:

  1. Asrar Rashid claimed that Basṭ al-Banān, Mawlānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī’s refutation of the false allegation made against him by Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī, was written after the latter’s death. This is categorically false. It was written in 1911, several years before his death.

 

  1. Asrar Rashid claimed the “Wahhābī scholar” al-Tuwayjirī authenticated a ḥadīth in Ṭabarānī mentioning that the world appeared to the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) like the palm of one’s hand, and said it is ṣaḥīḥ. This is false – he did not say it is ṣaḥīḥ. The ḥadīth is in fact very weak.

 

  1. Asrar Rashid claimed Faḍl e Ḥaqq Khayrābādī was hanged. This is false. He died a natural death while imprisoned on the Andaman Islands.

 

  1. Asrar Rashid claimed that Nuzhat al-Khawāṭir – a work he does not like – misreports that Faḍl e Ḥaqq Khayrābādī only rebelled against the British because the British stopped paying him. This is false – nothing like this is found in Nuzhat al-Khawāṭir.

 

  1. Asrar Rashid claimed that Mawlānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī referred to Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb as a “reviver of Islām”. This is false. Mawlānā Gangohī never referred to Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb as a “reviver of Islām”.

 

  1. Asrar Rashid claimed that Taqwiyat al-Īmān was written in 1821. This is categorically false, since the earliest known manuscript of the work dates to 1818.

 

  1. Asrar Rashid claimed the British distributed an Urdu edition of Taqwiyat al-Īmān in India, claiming this is a “fact”. This is false and an unproven myth.

 

  1. Asrar Rashid claimed Shāh Ismā‘īl Shahīd was said to have gone to Balakot (where he was martyred) to preach Tawḥīḍ or to fight the British. This is false. Shāh Ismā‘īl Shahīd went to Balakot as part of a contingent of Mujāhidīn to continue activities in establishing Islāmic governance and overthrowing a brutal Sikh regime.

 

  1. Asrar Rashid claimed that according to (the Ṣūfī tract) Ṣirāṭ e Mustaqīm to think “of the best of creation” invalidates the ṣalāh. This is false – Ṣirāṭ e Mustaqīm does not say anywhere that to think of the Beloved Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) in ṣalāh invalidates it. (In fact, it states the opposite – that at times the thought of prophets can be from the blessings of ṣalāh).

 

  1. Asrar Rashid claimed that a passage of Barāhīn e Qāṭi‘ah states that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) being in the higher abode does not make him any better than Malak al-Mawt (the angel of death). This is a completely false reading of the passage in question. The passage in question actually states that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) is superior to Malak al-Mawt and is in the highest ‘Illiyyīn, but despite this one cannot claim he has equal knowledge to Malak al-Mawt in areas that the latter is known to have greater awareness (like the locations/times of death of people).

For documentation and details of these lies, visit:

https://www.basair.net/sectarianism-and-its-roots-in-the-indian-subcontinent-a-response-to-asrar-rashid/

https://barelwism.wordpress.com/2018/12/04/more-lies-of-asrar-rashid-al-barelwi/

https://barelwism.wordpress.com/2018/12/16/further-lies-of-asrar-rashid-al-barelwi/

When it is at the expense of opponents or in favour of their own misguidance, Barelwis like Asrar Rashid don’t appear to have any problem with outright lies.

Asrar Rashid had ample time to retract some of the above false claims. If an individual does not take back clear falsehoods and persists on them, he will be considered a “liar”. Ibn Ḥibbān said: “One whose error was explained to him and he comes to know of it, but does not take it back and persists on it, he is a liar.” So like others of his ilk, Asrar Rashid is a flagrant liar, and nothing he says should be trusted without proper verification.


Further Lies of Asrar Rashid al-Barelwi

December 16, 2018

Barelwism can be characterised (amongst other things) as a tradition bent on distorting texts and history to paint opponents in a bad light. Asrar Rashid is a contemporary Barelwi who upholds this distinctive Barelwi tradition. Under our previous post documenting some of Asrar Rashid’s lies*, a commenter posted a relatively old talk of his in which he regurgitates Barelwi “reasons” for making takfeer of the Deobandi Akabir. The talk is titled “Refutation of Nuh Keller’s ‘Iman, Kufr and Takfir’”. Since we are on the topic of Asrar Rashid’s lies, it would be fitting to list a few lies that have surfaced from this talk.

First Lie

Asrar Rashid claims:

With [Hifz al-Iman] is Bast al-Banan wa Taghyir al-Unwan which he wrote after to defend his statement, after he was taken to task by al-Imam Ahmad Rida Khan. He wrote these works after al-Imam Ahmad Rida Khan passed away.

He is claiming that Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanawi’s Bast al-Banan – which is a refutation of the false allegation made against him by Ahmad Rida Khan Barelwi and of the false reading of a passage from Hifz al-Iman – was written after the death of Ahmad Rida Khan Barelwi. This is false. Bast al-Banan was written in 1911, many years before the death of Ahmad Rida Khan Barelwi. Bast al-Banan is dated Sha‘ban of 1329 AH (1911 CE) (Hifz al-Iman, Darul Kitab, p 32). Mawlana Sarfraz Khan Safdar (1914 – 2009) writes: “Hazrat Thanawi (Allah Most Exalted have mercy on him) published this lengthy answer with the title Bast al-Banan in Sha‘ban of 1329 which is appended to Hifz al-Iman itself. After the publication of this answer, Khan Sahib was alive for around 11 (lunar) years, but despite this clarification and explanation of Hazrat Thanawi Sahib, Khan Sahib did not part from his kufri determination…” (Ibarat e Akabir, p 191)

Bast al-Banan of course did not go unnoticed by Barelwis, hence some wrote “refutations”. One of these Barelwi refutations, Waq’at al-Sinan is clearly dated to 1330 AH – several years before the death of Ahmad Rida Khan Barelwi. Asrar Rashid’s claim, therefore, that Bast al-Banan was written after the death of Ahmad Rida Khan is resoundingly false.

Second Lie

Referring to Sirat e Mustaqim, Asrar Rashid says:

Where the statement regarding the Muslim praying in his prayer and he thinks of a donkey his prayer is not invalid but if he thinks of the best of creation his prayer is invalid. Everyone has heard this statement. This is found in this book Sirat e Mustaqim.

This statement is not found in Sirat e Mustaqim. The discussion in Sirat e Mustaqim is not about the validity or invalidity of salah, but about certain distractions and preoccupations of the mind, and which are worse than which. Hence, Asrar Rashid’s claim that Sirat e Mustaqim states that the salah is invalid because of thinking of the best of creation is false and another lie. In fact, in one place of the discussion in question from Sirat e Mustaqim, it states that on some occasions the thought of prophets can be from the blessings of salah – almost exactly the opposite of what Asrar Rashid imputes.

A detailed discussion of the passage in question can be found here: https://barelwism.wordpress.com/2017/03/10/refuting-the-allegation-that-shah-ismail-said-allah-forbid-that-to-think-of-the-prophet-saw-in-salah-is-worse-than-thinking-of-animals/

Third Lie

Discussing a sentence of Barahin e Qatiah of Mawlana Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri, Asrar Rashid says:

On page 52 he has worse statements where he says “a‘la ‘illiyyin mein ruh mubarak alayhissalam ki tashrif rakhna aur malak al-mawt se afzal hone ki wajh se hargiz sabit nehin hota”, that if you say the Messenger sallallahu alayhi wasallam went to the higher abode then this does not in any way make him any better than Malak al-Mawt.

This is a false reading of the passage from Barahin e Qatiah. Asrar Rashid is claiming that the sentence states the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) is not proven to be greater than Malak al-Mawt (Angel of Death) on account of being “in the higher abode”. This is not at all what it says.

The actual passage says that on account of his blessed soul being in the ‘Illiyyin and on account of his superiority to Malak al-Mawt, the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) cannot be said to have knowledge of certain things (like the locations and times of death of people) that Malak al-Mawt possesses. As one can see, Asrar Rashid’s reading is completely false. He did not read the full Urdu sentence, and nor did he translate the sentence correctly. The full Urdu sentence reads:

“Pass a‘la ‘illiyyin mein ruh mubarak alayhissalam ki tashrif rakhna aur malak al-mawt se afzal hone ki wajh se har giz sabit nehin hota keh ilm aapka in umoor mein malak al-mawt ki barabar ho cheh jaikeh ziyadah.”

A translation of which is:

“Thus, due to the blessed soul, upon him peace, being in the Higher ‘Illiyyin and being superior to Malak al-Mawt, it is not established at all that his knowledge is equal in these matters (about the locations and times of death of people etc.) to that of Malak al-Mawt, let alone being greater.”

Mawlana Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri is refuting the fallacious reasoning that just because someone is superior or more virtuous, he must therefore possess more knowledge than another in matters on which virtue does not depend (like the locations/times of death of people).

Thus, these are three further lies that have surfaced from an older talk of Asrar Rashid. These are only the clear lies and falsehoods. Otherwise, there are many problems and holes in Asrar Rashid’s arguments, but this is not the place to go into detail. Readers can find detailed responses to these old arguments on this website and elsewhere.

* https://barelwism.wordpress.com/2018/12/04/more-lies-of-asrar-rashid-al-barelwi/