Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī Explains Absurd Barelwī Philosophy on Prophetic Attributes

June 20, 2020

Aḥmad Riḍā Khān states:

An English translation follows:

A valuable point came to me during a lecture of mine. Keep it in mind. The totality of virtues is the full standard for the Messenger of Allāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace). There are [only] four reasons why a benefactor would not grant a favour to another:

    1. Either the one giving is not able to bestow this favour
    2. He can give it but stinginess prevents him
    3. The one he is giving is not deserving of it
    4. Or he is deserving but there is one more beloved than him for whom he is reserving it.

Ulūhiyyah (divinity) is the only perfection that is not within divine power. All other perfections are within divine power. Allāh (exalted is He) is the most generous of the generous and the most giving of givers, and the Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) is deserving of every virtue and excellence. And there is none more beloved than the Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) to Allāh. This entails that as many perfections, favours and blessings there are below divinity, God has granted them all in a complete way to the Prophet. Had granting divinity been within divine power, He would definitely have granted this also! Just as He said:

لو أردنا أن نتخذ لهوا لاتخذناه من لدنا إن كنا فعلين

“If We desired a son, then indeed We [would take one] from Our own side, if we were to do so.”

It is as though He is saying, Oh Christians, Jews and Arab polytheists, you have taken the Messiah, Ezra and the Angels as My sons. If I were to take a son for Myself, would I not take the one that is closest of all? Meaning, Muḥammad (Allāh bless him and grant him peace). (Malfūẓāt A‘lā Ḥaḍrat, p226-7)

An Arabic translation follows:

إني قد ألقي علي نكتة نفيسة عندما كنت ألقي وعظا. احفظوها

إن الفضائل جملةً هي المعيار الكامل لرسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم؛ وذلك أن المنعم لعدم إعطائه نعمةً ما لغيره أربعة احتمالات: إما أن المعطي ليست له قدرة على هذه النعمة، أو يمكن له الإعطاء لكن منعه البخل، أو أن الذي لم يعطها إياه ليس أهلا لها، أو كان أهلا لكنه استأثر به من هو أحب إليه منه

الألوهية هي الكمال الوحيد الذي هو ليس تحت القدرة الإلهية، وأما سائر الكمالات سوى الألوهية فإنها تحت القدرة الإهية، والله تعالى أكرم الأكرمين وأجود من يجود، والرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم أهل لكل فضل وكمال، وليس أحد أحب إلى الله من الرسول، فاللازم أن الفضائل والنعم والبركات سوى الألوهية مهما قدرها فالله تعالى أعطاها على وجه الكمال للرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم، ولو كانت الألوهية تحت القدرة ليعطيها إياه أيضا لا محالة! كما قال: ((لو أردنا أن نتخذ لهوا – أي ولدا – لاتخذناه من لدنا إن كنا فعلين.)) كأنه قال: يا أيها النصارى ويا أيها اليهود ويا مشركي العرب! إنكم جعلتم المسيح وعزيرا والملائكة أولادا لي، ولو كنت متخذا ولدا ألست متخذا من هو الأقرب عندي؟ أي: محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم – من ملفوظات أعلحضرت، ص٢٢٦-٢٢٧

In other words, according to Barelwī logic all possible feats, powers and positive qualities must have been acquired by the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). They can thus affirm the Prophet’s complete power and knowledge – he can hear everything, see everything, do everything; fly, breathe under water or not even breathe all (!), teleport, travel through space, time travel, etc. etc. It doesn’t matter to Barelwīs that this will result in going against clear evidence of Qur’ān (e.g. of the Prophet being Ummi and not knowing the Final Hour) and going against the rule of not affirming anything for the Prophet unless it is proven.

‘Allamāh ‘Abd al-Ḥayy al-Lakhnawī writes:

Attributing a virtue or a rank to his purified essence, the existence of which is not established in the holy prophetic essence by verses or reliable hadīths, is also from the greatest of major sins. The preachers should, therefore, pay attention, and the story-tellers and the exhorting and reproving sermonisers should beware, since they attribute many things to the holy person, the existence of which has not been established therein, and they think that in this is great reward due to establishing a virtue for the holy essence and elevating its stature, yet they are unaware that the prophetic virtues established in the authentic hadīths dispose of the need for these flimsy falsehoods. By my life, his (Allah bless him and grant him peace) virtues are outside the limit of encompassment and enumeration, and his merits, by which he excels all creation, are very many without end, so what is the need to extol him using falsehoods? Rather, this is a cause for great sin and deviation from the Straight Path. (al-Āthār al-Marfū‘ah)

If one is wondering how Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s logic above is flawed, there are two things to keep in mind:

  1. Human virtue is mainly determined by voluntary acts and spiritual condition, like worship, slavehood, abstinence, scrupulousness, sincerity, devotion etc. It is not determined by involuntary powers or feats Allāh grants like knowledge of useless things or powers of a supernatural nature. If Allāh grants these to some and not others, this does not prove the excellence of one and not the other.
  1. Premises two and four from Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s four premises are flawed. It is not only “stinginess” or “another being more deserving” that would prevent Allāh from giving a favour to someone. There could be a vast array of wisdoms and reasons why Allāh would withhold a quality from someone, including the Prophet. Does Aḥmad Riḍā Khān claim to encompass God’s knowledge? Allāh says: “He knows all that is before them and behind them, and they do not encompass Him in knowledge.” (20:110) Mawlānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī said to the effect: “The Ahl al-Bida‘ treat the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) as though a god, but a deficient god, while the Ahl al-Sunnah treat the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) as a slave but a perfect slave.”

What genuine Muslims and true Sunnis are supposed to do is accept what Allāh and His Messenger have taught; not contrive some formula to justify believing in fairy tales that go against explicit texts.

Also see: Barelwī Belief about the Prophet


Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī: The Prophet has Encompassing Hearing

April 22, 2020

Explaining how the ḥadīth specifying the Prophet’s hearing of ṣalawāt to it being recited at the grave can be reconciled with his belief in the Prophet having total hearing from near or far, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī says:

“There is the possibility that he said this before being given all-encompassing hearing.” (Inbā’ al-Ḥayy, p456)

Referring to some ḥadīths mentioning the extraordinary hearing of angels, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī says:

Since this is the case with the Prophet’s (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) servants and slaves – they hear continuously, always, from a distance of thousands of years – what do you think of the Prophet?! Whatever control or power another has, that was only from the aid and assistance of the Prophet, and was a bestowal and granting of the Prophet.” (Inbā’ al-Ḥayy, p469)

Aḥmad Yār Khān Na‘īmī: The Prophet is Present and Watching Like Allāh

April 22, 2020

Aḥmad Yār Khān Na‘īmī (1906 – 1971), a very well-known and accepted Barelwī scholar (and student of famous Barelwī scholar Na‘īmuddīn Murādābādī; and someone who had met Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī), writes:

“It is not permissible to address someone in ṣalāh and speak to them. If someone does this, the ṣalāh will end. [This is the rule with everyone] besides Allāh and the Beloved of Allāh (upon him peace), in the manner that here [the muṣallī] says: iyyāka na‘budu and in attaḥiyyāt says: assalāmu ‘alayka ayyuhannabī. It is realised from this that just as the muṣallī recognises Allāh to be present and witnessing, he recognises the same of the Beloved (Allāh bless him and grant him peace). And just as he makes the intention of pleasing the Lord, in the same way, [he intends to please] the Beloved [upon him peace]. This is why the noble ṣaḥābah in the very ṣalāh itself, showed respect to Ḥuḍūr (upon him peace).” (Tafsīr Naīmī, Maktabah Ismāliyyah, 1:58)


Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī: Awliyā in Actuality Present at Multiple Places at One Time

April 22, 2020

It is written in Malfūẓāt A‘lā Ḥaḍrat:

Question: Huḍūr, do the Awliyā’ have the ability to be present in multiple places at one time?

Answer [by Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī]: If they want, they can accept 10,000 invitations from 10,000 cities at one time!

Question: Huḍūr, we get the impression from this that the “bodily images” (ajsām mithāliyyah) from the “world of images” (‘ālam al-mithāl) are subject to the Awliyā’, thus one individual is seen in multiple places at one time. If this is so, a doubt arises on this, that the image is other than the thing. The existence of the images is not the existence of the thing. So the existence of those bodies will not be regarded as the existence of that body?

Answer [by Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī]: Even if they are images, they are [images] of the body [only]. His pure soul, being connected to all of these bodies, has powers of discretion. Thus, via the spirit and reality, that one being, is present in all places. This too is according to a surface understanding. Otherwise, it [states] in Sab‘ Sanābil Sharīf that Ḥaḍrat Sayyidī Fatḥ Muḥammad (his soul be sactified) wrote about attending ten gatherings, and upon this, someone asked: “Ḥaḍrat, you have agreed to be present at ten places at one time, how can this be?” The shaykh said: “Krishna/Kanhaiya was a disbeliever and was present at one time in several hundred places; if Fatḥ Muḥammad is present at one time in several places, what is strange about that?” (Sab‘ Sanābil)

Saying this, [Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī] mentioned: Do you think that Shaykh was present at one place and images at other places? Absolutely not! In fact, the Shaykh himself was present at all places. The inner realities are beyond the surface understanding. (Malfūẓāt A‘lā Ḥaḍrat, p176-7)

Barelwi Belief About the Prophet

April 22, 2020

Barelwi belief about the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) can be summarised as follows:

The Prophet is all-knowing, and thus knows the entire cosmos (from the start of creation till the final hour and beyond) in full detail, not even an atom escaping his all-encompassing knowledge. He is all-powerful, and thus has full control over everything in creation including sending people to heaven and hell. He is all-hearing and all-seeing, and thus hears and sees everything in creation. He can be physically present in many places at one time. Thus to call out to him for assistance, at times of distress or at other times, is completely justified (and encouraged), given he hears and knows the petitioner’s plea and has full powers to respond and carry out his request. (Major Barelwi scholars also hold that) He is not physically a man, but only appeared as a man (like the angel Jibril appeared to Maryam); his physical reality is a special light; he is thus, an utterly different form of creation to all that exists. We can name and regard our selves as his slaves (‘abd, ‘ibad).”

Apart from going against explicit texts of Qur’an and Hadith, for any Muslim of sound fitrah, who has not been poisoned by the Barelwi (or any Barelwi-esque) virus, such belief will immediately be seen for what it is: utterly repulsive and extreme. On such a view, one will be justified in having full reliance, trust and dependence in the Prophet, rather than Allah!

How do Barelwis justify such beliefs? By saying:

  1. All the above qualities were endowed by Allah, thus to hold such beliefs is not shirk;
  2. It does not entail making the Prophet exactly equal to Allah in any quality

This, in truth, is their only criterion. Everything else, about staying faithful to Qur’anic and Prophetic teachings, and imbibing the spirit of Islam (dependence only on Allah), just goes out the window.

In brief, the above-described belief about the Prophet is just like belief in a sub-God to a main God, but carefully modeled in such a way that it does not negate, in a strict sense, belief in tawhid.