Some Barelwīs allege that Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī/Mawlānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī are guilty of blasphemy for describing the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) in Barāhīn Qāṭi‘ah as a “brother” to people. For example, Munawwar Ateeq Rizvi wrote in 2010: “The blasphemous comments of the scholars of Deoband include…that the Prophet was a brother to people etc. (in…Baraheen Qaatiah)!”
The following is a translation of the complete section of Barāhīn Qāṭi‘ah in reference so readers can assess whether this really is “blasphemy” (as Munawwar claims) or another example of the Barelwī passion to call out anything as “blasphemy” when it comes from their theological opponents.
When the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) forbade ṣawm wiṣāl (continuous fasting without ifṭār) and when some companions, in order to justify their violation of this prohibition, said that he (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) himself performs it, he replied: “Which of you is like me? I spend the night while my Rabb feeds me and gives me drink.” (Bukhārī) And in another version, he said: “I am not like any of you…” (Muslim)
‘Abd al-Samī‘ al-Rāmpūri used this narration in Anwār Sāṭi‘ah to criticise those who regard the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) as our “brother” (which is an indirect reference to Shāh Ismā‘īl Shahīd and his Taqwiyat al-Īmān, where he referred to all prophets and men of piety as “brothers” in humanity – as opposed to gods – while commenting on a ḥadīth in which the Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam described himself as “your brother” – see for an explanation here).
In response, Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī writes in Barāhīn Qāṭi‘ah:
In the ḥadīth, “Which of you is like me?” the intent is likeness in proximity to Allāh Almighty, which is clearly indicated by the words he said after this: “My Rabb feeds me and gives me drink.” The same is the case with the verse: “You [O wives of the Prophet] are not like any of the women” (Qur’an 33:32), in which is intended negation of likeness in terms of the honour of being the wives [of the Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam] and the consequences of being the wives [of the Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam].
Not even the least Muslim will claim likeness with the Pride of the World (upon him blessings) in proximity to Allāh and his lofty perfections. However, all children of Ādam are equal to him in the very property of being human (nafs bashariyyat) as Allāh Himself states: “Say: I am but a man like you.” And after this, the qualification “revelation comes to me” (Qur’an 18:110), again establishes the position of proximity to Allāh after affirming likeness in being human.
Thus, if anybody says that he is a brother, in the sense of being from the descendants of Ādam, there is no contradiction with the texts, but it is perfectly in line with the texts [of Qur’ān and Ḥadīth]. The Pride of the World (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) also said: “I hoped to see my brothers.” (Muslim) Thus, he has affirmed brotherhood based on being from the children of Ādam and this basis is completely in line with Qur’ān and Ḥadīth, and attacking this is an attack on Qur’ān and Ḥadīth, and disagreeing with this is opposition to the clear texts [of Qur’ān and Ḥadīth]. Thus, the one who says he is a brother means it in the sense that he is from the children of Ādam, not because he believes in likeness in terms of proximity to Allāh! Thus, an attack on this stems from nothing but an opposition to the texts.
To take out his (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) person from being human – which is the noblest and most exalted of creation – and placing him in another species is pure disrespect and degradation of his lofty station. The author has not yet understood what the one who said this meant, and the author’s attack is [in reality] of the Qur’ān and Ḥadīth themselves. Nonetheless, this is surely him exposing his own lack of understanding. The verse, “You [O wives of the Prophet] are not like any of the women” is understood in the same way.
There is no doubt that brotherhood in the very property of being human, and equality in terms of being from the children of Ādam, has been established in the text of the Qur’ān; while, in the perfections of proximity, nobody has called him a brother or believes him to be equal [with others]. Thus, this objection is complete sophistry, against understanding and reason. (Barāhīn Qāṭi‘ah, p. 7)
Where is the blasphemy in this passage? In this passage, the author states no one is equal to the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) in proximity to Allāh and his lofty perfections. But in the very property of being human, he is equal to all human beings, as confirmed in Qur’ān and Ḥadīth, and in this sense he has been referred to as our brother (as found in some ḥadīths).