It is a common trope amongst Barelwīs that:
- The Kuffār referred to the Prophets as bashar (human beings)
- Iblīs referred to Ādam (‘alayhissalām) as bashar
- Thus, to refer to prophets as bashar is the practice of Kuffār and Satan, so should be avoided
See, for example, ‘Umar Icharvī’s (1901 – 1971) Miqyās e Nūr (p. 194 – 216), where he lays out the above argument.
Famous Barelwī scholar, Na‘īmuddīn Murādābādī (1883 – 1948), writes in his commentary on Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s (1856 – 1921) translation of the Qur’ān: “It is realised from this that in calling someone bashar, it results in denial of his virtues and perfections. Thus, in many places the Pure Qur’ān refers to those who call the Noble Prophets bashar as Kāfirs. And in reality, such an expression is far from etiquette and is the practice of the Kuffār in respect to prophets.” (Khazā’in al-‘Irfān, p. 6-7)
Barelwīs however have this completely backward as Mawlānā Sarfrāz Khān Ṣafdar explains in detail in his critique of Khazā’in al-‘Irfān called Tanqīd e Matīn (p. 54-100).
The mistake of Satan and the Kuffār was not that they considered/called the prophets bashar but that they treated bashariyyah (being human) as something degrading or lowly. Satan believed he, as a creature of fire, was superior to Ādam (‘alayhissalām), a creature of earth. The Kuffār who opposed the prophets believed human beings were not worthy of receiving Allāh’s revelations and being prophets, and thus said: “Did Allāh appoint a bashar as messenger?!” (أ بعث الله بشرا رسولا)
Thus, the mistake of Satan and the Kuffār was to treat bashariyyah (being human) as something lowly. This is precisely the same attitude adopted by Barelwīs. Hence, Barelwīs adopt the attitude of Satan and Kuffār in considering bashariyyah as something without virtue and excellence.
On the other hand, the Qur’ān says. “We have ennobled the sons of Ādam…and have granted them excellence…” Allāh said to the angels: “Indeed I am to create bashar from clay, so when I have proportioned him and breathed My spirit into him, fall in prostration to him.” The Qur’ān says: “We have created humanity in the best constitution.”
In other words, Allāh and the Angels regard humanity and human beings with honour. The Kuffār and Satan regarded humanity and human beings as being dishonourable. Barelwīs have adopted the attitude of the Kuffār and Satan, while Sunnīs adopt the correct attitude of regarding bashariyyah as something honourable.
For a detailed refutation of this Barelwī attitude, see Tanqīd e Matīn, p. 54-100.