A Tale of Deception – Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī and Takfīr of the Akābir of Deoband

March 18, 2020

Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī (1856 – 1921 CE) used lies and deception to mislead and guilt people into accepting his slanderous takfīr of four of the great ‘ulamā’ of Deoband, namely:

  1. Maulānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī (1829 – 1905 CE)
  2. Maulānā Qāsim Nānotwī (1833 – 1880 CE)
  3. Maulānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī (1852 – 1927 CE)
  4. Maulānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī (1863 – 1943 CE)

He even went as far as to say anyone who doubts his takfīr of them becomes a kāfir!

The following series of articles exposes in clear and vivid detail how Aḥmad Riḍā Khān is guilty of deception and fraud in each one of these allegations:

How Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī Used a Fabricated Fatwā to Make Takfīr on Maulānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī

How Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī Manufactured a Quote from Taḥdḥir un Nās to Make Takfīr on Maulānā Qāsim Nānotwī

How Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī Distorted the Meaning of Barāhīn e Qāṭi‘ah to Make Takfīr on Maulānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī

How Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Distorted Ḥifẓ al-Īmān to Make Takfīr on Maulānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī

Please read and share with interested parties.


How Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī Manufactured a Quote from Taḥdhīr un Nās to Make Takfīr on Maulānā Qāsim Nānotwī

March 16, 2020

Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s Allegation

Taḥdhīr un Nās (written in: 1873) is a deep exegetical work written by Maulānā Qāsim Nānotwī (1833 – 1880) on the topic of the superiority of the Prophet Muḥammad (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) in relation to the prophetic title “Khātam al-Nabiyyīn”. Maulānā Qāsim Nānotwī wrote two subsequent works, Munāẓarah ‘Ajībah and Tanwīr al-Nibrās, to answer objections and allay misconceptions regarding Taḥdhīr un Nās.

In al-Mustanad al-Mu‘tamad (written in: 1902), Aḥmad Riḍā Khān made takfīr on Maulānā Qāsim Nānotwī based on Taḥdhīr un Nās. He presents the basis of takfīr as follows (al-Mustanad al-Mu‘tamad, p225):

He writes:

والقاسمية المنسوبة إلى قاسم النانوتي صاحب تحذير الناس وهو القائل فيه: لو فرض في زمنه صلى الله تعالى عليه وسلم بل لو حدث بعده صلى الله تعالى عليه وسلم نبي جديد لم يخل ذلك بخاتميته، وإنما يتخيل العوام أنه صلى الله تعالى عليه وسلم خاتم النبيين بمعنى آخر النبيين مع أنه لا فضل فيه أصلا عند أهل الفهم، إلى آخر ما ذكر من الهذيانات. وقد قال في التتمة والأشباه وغيرهما: إذا لم يعرف أن محمدا صلى الله تعالى عليه وسلم آخر الأنبياء فليس بمسلم لأنه من الضروريات

“The Qāsimiyyah are affiliated to Qāsim Nanotwī author of Taḥdhīr un Nās who said therein: ‘Were it supposed in his (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) time, in fact had a new prophet arisen after him (Allāh bless him and grant him peace), it would not infringe on his being the Khātam, and it is only the common people who think that he (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) is Khātam al-Nabiyyīn in the meaning of the last prophet despite there being no virtue at all in this according to the people of understanding,’ to the end of the nonsense that he mentioned. It states in al-Tatimmah and al-Ashbāh and other than them: ‘When one does not recognise that Muḥammad (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) is the last prophet, he is not Muslim, because it is from the absolute essentials.’

As one will notice, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān quotes the passage he presents from Taḥdhīr un Nās as one contiguous sentence, making it appear that this is how it appears in Taḥdhīr un Nās. In al-Mustanad al-Mu‘tamad, he does not put any punctuation marks to suggest these were taken from different parts of Taḥdhīr un Nās and strung together.

The sentence that he presents gives the meaning that if another prophet appeared after the Prophet Muḥammad (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) this would not impact on his being Khātam al-Nabiyyīn and only common people believe he is Khātam al-Nabiyyīn in the sense of the last prophet despite this not being something of virtue. So, it would seem based on this that the author of Taḥdhīr un Nās is denying the concept of chronological finality for the Prophet Muḥammad and is affirming the actual possibility that a new prophet could arise. Once Aḥmad Riḍā Khān planted this idea in the reader’s mind, he quotes the Fuqahā’ who said the obvious: anyone who doesn’t recognise Muḥammad as the last prophet is not a Muslim. Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s intent is thus very clear: Nānotwī denied the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) being the last prophet and believed it is factually possible for another prophet to appear after him, and thus is a disbeliever.

Aḥmad Riḍā Khān copied the allegation as found in al-Mustanad and presented it to scholars of Makkah and Madīnah, and having received signed endorsements from some of them, published this as Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn (written in: 1906).

Perhaps to ward off allegations of deception, some recent editions of Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn add punctuation marks to the passage Aḥmad Riḍā Khān quotes from Taḥdhīr un Nās to show that it was taken from three different places. But here is an example of a recent edition of Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn that left it as it is in the original, without any punctuation marks:

Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s Deception in Quoting the Passage

The reality is that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān had manufactured this sentence from three different parts of Taḥdhīr un Nās. See this most recent edition of Taḥdhīr un Nās, from which the following references/images will be taken. Recall the quote from Taḥdhīr un Nās that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān made the basis of his takfīr:

“Were it supposed in his (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) time, in fact had a new prophet arisen after him (Allāh bless him and grant him peace), it would not infringe on his being the Khātam, and it is only the common people who think that he (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) is Khātam al-Nabiyyīn in the meaning of the last prophet despite there being no virtue at all in this according to the people of understanding.”

The first fragment, “Were it supposed in his (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) time”, is taken from a sentence on page 37; the second fragment, “in fact had a new prophet arisen after him (Allāh bless him and grant him peace), it would not infringe on his being the Khātam”, is taken from a sentence on page 63; and the sentence: “it is only the common people who think that he (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) is Khātam al-Nabiyyīn in the meaning of the last prophet despite there being no virtue at all in this according to the people of understanding” is taken from page 14.

Before looking at these three passages and what they mean in context, it is important for readers to see that Maulānā Qāsim Nānotwī categorically affirmed chronological finality in Taḥdhīr un Nās, and said chronological finality is included within the meaning of the prophetic title “Khātam al-Nabiyyīn”. Hence, for Aḥmad Riḍā Khān to take some unclear and ambiguous fragments out of context and string them together to impute to Maulānā Qāsim Nānotwī a belief he categorically denies is an act of great deception.

Maulānā Qāsim Nānotwī Categorically Affirms the Chronological Finality of Prophethood in Taḥdhīr un Nās and Declares its Denier a Disbeliever

Maulānā Qāsim Nānotwī’s understanding is that the title “Khātam al-Nabiyyīn” or “Khātim al-Nabiyyīn” as found in the Qur’ān refers to finality in three senses:

  1. Finality of status (khātamiyyat martabī) – his status in prophethood is at its peak
  2. Finality of time (khātamiyyat zamānī) – his time is at the end of all prophets
  3. Finality of place (khātamiyyat makānī) – his earth amongst six other earths is endmost

His preferred view, as he states explicitly in Taḥdhīr un Nās (p27-8), is that the title includes all three meanings.

The “foundational meaning”, however, Maulānā Qāsim Nānotwī contends is finality in status. If only one meaning for the title is taken, Maulānā Nānotwī thus contends, it would be this: finality in status. But even then, finality in time is included as an “implicative meaning” of the title, in a manner that he explains in the work. (Taḥdhīr un Nās, p25-6)

Maulānā Nānotwī then makes the categorical statement below (p29-30):

“Therefore, if [sealship] is absolute and general, then the establishment of chronological finality is obvious. Otherwise, accepting the necessity of chronological finality by implicative indication is definitely established. Here, the explicit statements of the Prophet, like: ‘You are to me at the level of Hārūn to Mūsā, but there is no prophet after me,’ or as he said, which apparently is derived from the phrase ‘Khātam al-Nabiyyīn’ in the manner mentioned earlier, are sufficient on this subject, because it reaches the level of tawātur. Furthermore, consensus (ijmā‘) has been reached on this. Although the aforementioned words were not transmitted by mutawātir chains, but despite this lack of tawātur in the words, there is tawātur in the meaning just like the tawātur of the number of rak‘āt of the obligatory prayers, the Witr prayer etc. Although the words of the narrations stating the number of rak‘āt are not mutawātir, just as the one who denies that is a kāfir, in the same way, the one who denies this is a kāfir.”

This is an explicit statement, showing categorically Maulānā Nānotwī’s belief that chronological finality is an established belief of Islām, denial of which is disbelief, and which is included within the meaning of “Khātam al-Nabiyyīn”, and is established by mutawātir ḥadīths and consensus.

In a subsequent work which Maulānā Nānotwī wrote to defend his views against objections and misconceptions, he writes:

It is my religion and faith that after Allāh’s Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) there is no possibility of any other prophet. Whoever hesitates about this, I regard him to be a disbeliever.” (Munāẓarah ‘Ajībah, p144)

This, again, is a categorical statement, leaving no doubt as to what is Maulānā Nānotwī’s view on the matter on which Aḥmad Riḍā Khān made takfīr.

Thus, Barelwī scholar, Pīr Karam Shāh Azharī (1918 – 1998), rejected the takfīr against Maulānā Nānotwī and said Maulānā Nānotwī clearly affirmed chronological finality:

“I do not think it correct to say that Maulānā Nānotwī (may Allah have mercy on him) denied the belief in the finality of prophethood, because these passages (of Taḥdhīr al-Nās), by way of the clear meaning of the text and its indication, show without doubt that Maulānā Nānotwī (may Allah have mercy on him) had certainty that chronological finality of prophethood is from the necessities of religion, and he regarded its evidences as categorical and mutawātir. He has stated this matter explicitly, that the one who denies chronological finality of prophethood of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is a kāfir and outside the fold of Islām.” (Taḥdhīr un Nās Merī Naẓar Mein, p58)

Support for Maulānā Qāsim Nānotwī’s View

Before moving on to look at how Aḥmad Riḍā Khān deceived his readers and looking at the context of the fragments he strung together to concoct a “blasphemous sentence”, it should be noted other scholars pre-Nānotwī also expressed similar views on the title Khātam al-Nabiyyīn.

‘Allāmah Shihāb al-Dīn al-Miṣrī al-Ḥanafī al-Khafājī (977 – 1069 H) says in his well-known commentary on al-Shifā:

“Khātam” [in “Khātam al-Nabiyyīn”] is with kasrah and fatḥah on the tā’ – [it means] the end of them and the one in whom is their [total] perfection.” (Nasīm al-Riyāḍ, Dārul Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 3:31)

The early ṣūfī scholar and author of Nawādir alUṣūl, Shaykh al-Ḥakīm al-Tirmidhī (d. 320 H), believed the primary meaning of Khātam al-Nabiyyīn is the one in whom all perfections of prophethood are combined – just as Maulānā Nānotwī said. He writes:

“Allāh, exalted is He, has combined the particles of prophethood for Muḥammad (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) and completed them for him and put a seal over them with his seal.” (Kitāb Khatm al-Wilāyah, p340 )

And:

“The meaning of Khātam al-Nabiyyīn according to us is that prophethood was completed in its entirety for Muḥammad (Allāh bless him and grant him peace), so his heart was made for the pinnacle of prophethood a receptacle around it, and then it was sealed.” (Kitāb Khatm al-Wilāyah, p341)

He further says:

“One blind to this information thinks that Khātam al-Nabiyyīn means [primarily] that he was the last of them. What virtue is there in this and what knowledge is there in this? This is the understanding of simple-minded, ignorant people.” (Kitāb Khatm al-Wilāyah, 341)

Hence, Maulānā Nānotwī has scholarly and classical precedent for his view on the meaning of the title Khātam al-Nabiyyīn; and his belief does not entail denial of any fundamental of Islām, least of all the belief in chronological finality for the Prophet Muḥammad (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam).

Let us now look at the fragments of the book Aḥmad Riḍā Khān pieced together to create a statement of disbelief.

First Fragment

The first fragment that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān quotes is taken from p38 of the book:

The objective is that if sealship in the meaning I presented [i.e. finality in status] is taken, then his position as the Khātam will not be specifically in relation to past prophets, but if hypothetically in his own time any prophet appeared somewhere, even then his position as the Khātam will remain sound.”

It is only the underlined part that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān quotes as the first fragment amongst three that he strung together.

Now, what is Maulānā Nānotwī here saying? He is saying if the meaning of finality of status is isolated from the different meanings of the title “Khātam al-Nabiyyīn”, then, even if hypothetically we suppose another prophet appeared in the Prophet’s (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) own time, he would still be the Khātam in relation to that hypothetical prophet in the sense of “finality of status”. Recall, he does not deny finality of time, and hence why this is presented only as a hypothetical situation. Furthermore, to allay any misconception, in Munāẓarah ‘Ajībah (p35), Maulānā Nānotwī says he accepts the chronological finality of the Prophet Muḥammad for prophets of all earths and that this is indicated in Taḥdhīr un Nās itself – he is the final prophet in terms of time for prophets of this earth and all other earths:

Hence, Maulānā Nānotwī’s meaning is plain: in the hypothetical scenario that another prophet appeared in the Prophet’s time, he would still be a Khātam in terms of the first meaning (finality in terms of status). But in terms of the second meaning (finality in terms of time) – which Maulānā Nānotwī also accepts – of course he would not remain Khātam in this hypothetical case, which is why it is only a hypothetical case and not a factual one.

The fact Maulānā Nānotwī uses the term “hypothetically” (bilfarz) shows he does not believe this to be an actual possibility. Maulānā Idrīs Kāndehlewī (1899 – 1974) in his defence of Taḥdhīr un Nās makes this point (Taḥdhīr un Nās, Dārul Ishā‘at, p56):

It was an act of deception on the part of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān to quote this small fragment of the sentence, excluding the qualifying statement at the start: “if sealship in the meaning I presented [i.e. finality in status] is taken…”.

Second Fragment

The second fragment is taken from the following passage on p63:

“Yes, if Khātamiyyah in the sense of [finality in status as] an intrinsic embodiment of the quality of prophethood is taken, as this humble one has submitted, then besides Allāh’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace), any other individual intended for creation cannot be considered equal to the Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace). Rather, in this way not only is his superiority over external individual prophets established, his superiority over even conceivable (muqaddara) individuals is established. Therefore, even if it were hypothesised that after the time of the Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) any prophet was born, even then there would be no difference to Muḥammadan Khātamiyyah.”

It is important to understand the context of this statement. The context is essentially the main objective of the whole book: to establish the absolute superiority of the Prophet Muḥammad (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). Even though there are other earths with other prophets, once we accept the Prophet Muḥammad as the “absolute seal” (khātam muṭlaq), those other prophets would also be subject to Muḥammadan superiority (afḍaliyyat). In fact, even if we suppose hypothetically another prophet appeared here or elsewhere, that prophet too will be subject to Muḥammadan superiority. So, when Maulānā Nānotwī says “there would be no difference to Muḥammadan Khātamiyyah”, he means “there would be no difference to Muḥammadan superiority” and no difference to the Prophet’s finality in terms of status. This is precisely how Maulānā Idrīs Kāndehlewī explains the passage:

Aḥmad Riḍā Khān again quotes only the underlined fragment to impute a false meaning. And again, he omits the crucial qualifier at the start of the passage: “if Khātamiyyah in the sense of [finality in status as] an intrinsic embodiment of the quality of prophethood is taken…”

Third Statement

The third statement is effectively from the start of the book. As it is Maulānā Nānotwī’s objective to prove that “Khātam al-Nabiyyīn” is a term essentially regarding prophetic superiority (but includes the meaning of finality in time), he points out that the common people understand the term essentially to mean finality in terms of time (Taḥdhīr un Nās, p14):

“In the understanding of the commoners, the Messenger of Allāh (Allah bless him and grant him peace) being Khātam is with the meaning that his time is after the time of the earlier prophets, and he is the last prophet of all. But it will be clear to the people of understanding that coming earlier and later chronologically has intrinsically no virtue. Then how can it be correct to say, ‘But the Messenger of Allah and Khātam an-Nabiiyyīn,’ (Qur’ān, 33:40) in this scenario, is in a place of praise?”

As can be seen, Maulānā Nānotwī is arguing “Khātam al-Nabiyyīn” is a title of praise, and merely coming later in time does not intrinsically entail praise, so to take this as the foundational meaning is problematic. He says only a little later in the same context:

“In fact, the basis of Khātamiyyat is upon something else, from which coming later in time and blocking the aforementioned door [to false claimants of prophethood] will automatically be necessitated, and prophetic virtue will be multiplied.”

Hence, in the very same section, Maulānā Nānotwī affirms chronological finality of the Prophet Muḥammad (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). Here he mentions the foundational meaning is finality in status, but even then: chronological finality is an implicative and necessary meaning of the term. Later, he presents his preferred opinion that all three meanings of “finality” are included within Khātam al-Nabiyyīn.

Final Points

Given the context of the three fragments that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān pieced together to concoct a statement of disbelief, Maulānā Nānotwī’s intent is plain for everyone to see. He did not claim it is possible for another prophet to appear. To the contrary, he said it is impossible for another prophet to appear after the Prophet Muḥammad, and that anyone who believes it is factually possible is a disbeliever.

It is clear to any fair-minded, objective reader that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān was deceiving his readers by piecing together three fragments from Taḥdhīr un Nās that occur in three different contexts to impute a meaning to him that he categorically denied.

It is also clear that Maulānā Qāsim Nānotwī did not deny any fundamental belief of Islām, and hence takfīr is completely unjustified. Yet, it is mainstream Barelwī belief that to even doubt the takfīr of Maulānā Nānotwī is itself a crime that merits takfīr!


How Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī Used a Fabricated Fatwā to Make Takfīr on Maulānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī

March 15, 2020

Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s Allegation

Aḥmad Riḍā Khān (1856 – 1921) alleged in Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn (written in: 1906) that Maulānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī (1829 – 1905) had written a fatwā stating that a person that believes Allāh has actually spoken a lie does not become a disbeliever. He claimed the fatwā is available in the handwriting of Maulānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī and with his seal. The following is from a recent edition of Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn:

Based on this alleged fatwā, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān issued a definitive verdict of takfīr against Maulānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī, even claiming that anyone who doubts the takfīr is himself a disbeliever!

Response

In al-Muhannad ‘ala l-Mufannad (written in: 1907), ‘Allāmah Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī explained that this is a fabrication, and goes against what Maulānā Gangohī had written in his published Fatāwā.

Maulānā Ganoghī’s Published Fatwā

In a published fatwā written in both Urdu and Arabic, Maulānā Gangohī had written that anyone that says Allāh has actually spoken a lie is a disbeliever and is accursed. (Fatāwā Rashīdiyyah; from Ta’līfāt Rasḥidiyyah, p96, 97)

This well-known and established fatwā of Maulānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī thus states the complete opposite of the alleged fatwā.

Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Doubling Down in Tamhīd e Īmān

In Tamhīd e Īmān (written in: 1908), Aḥmad Riḍā Khān then presented some reasons why he believes it is correct to attribute this fatwā to Maulānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī (Fatāwā Riḍawiyyah, 30:349-50):

His argument can be summarised as follows:

  1. The fatwā was published several times with refutations of it, starting from 1308 H (1890 CE)
  2. Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohi lived for some 15 years thereafter
  3. The allegation is not something trivial that it can be ignored
  4. His nondenial of it is thus proof it is his

Regardless of the weaknesses of this argument, it hinges primarily on the claim that Maulānā Gangohī did not deny the attribution.

Maulānā Gangohī’s Denial of the Fabricated Fatwā

However, Maulānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī did deny the fatwā as documented by his student Maulānā Murtaḍā Ḥasan Chāndpūrī (1868 – 1951) in a treatise called Tazkiyat al-Khawāṭir (Majmū‘ah Rasā’il Chāndpūrī, 1:106), a copy of which was sent to Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī.

The Fabricated Fatwā is not Recognised by Students and Associates of Maulānā Gangohī

Maulānā Ḥusayn Aḥmad Madanī (1879 – 1957), another student of Maulānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī, points out further that this alleged fatwā is not known to any of the students of Maulānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī (al-Shihāb al-Thāqib, p259):

Summary

In short, the fatwā that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī alleged was authored by Maulānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī and based on which he issued a definitive verdict of takfīr:

  1. Opposes what he has explicitly written in a published, well-known fatwā
  2. Was denied by Maulānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī himself
  3. Is not recognised by his students and associates
  4. Has consistently been rejected as a forgery by the students of Maulānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī

For any fair-minded and objective person, a piece of writing can never be legitimately attributed to the alleged author based on such flimsy “evidence”, let alone passing a definitive verdict of takfīr based on it!

Mukhtaṣar Kitāb al-Tawḥīd: A Case Study on Fabrication

It is not hard to believe that this fatwā was fabricated given the above evidence, and given that the alleged fatwā – by Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s own admission – was circulated only amongst opponents of Maulānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī.

A few decades prior to this fabrication, another fabrication was offered as evidence by a predecessor to Aḥmad Riḍā Khān: Faḍl e Rasūl Badāyūnī (1798 – 1872). The latter alleged in a work called Sayf al-Jabbār that Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb had authored a summary of his Kitāb al-Tawḥīd in Arabic, which was then translated and commented on by Shāh Ismā‘īl Dehlawī as Taqwiyat al-Īmān. This entire tale is false. For details, see here.

Barelwīs, including Aḥmad Riḍā Khān himself, repeat this fabricated evidence of Faḍl e Rasūl Badāyūnī. Faḍl e Rasūl Badāyūnī presents lengthy quotations from the supposed summary of Kitāb al-Tawḥīd. The reality is that this “summary of Kitāb al-Tawḥīd” was manufactured by fabricators who “translated” sections from Taqwiyat al-Īmān into Arabic but giving them the worst possible interpretations. Hence, the “summary of Kitāb al-Tawḥīd” that Faḍl e Rasūl Badāyūnī presents bears no resemblance with the actual Kitāb al-Tawḥīd of Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb, while it does bear some resemblance with Taqwiyat al-Īmān. Based on this fabrication, Faḍl e Rasūl Badāyūnī, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān and others allege that Taqwiyat al-Īmān is literally based on Kitāb al-Tawḥīd of Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb.

[Note: Taqwiyat al-Īmān is indeed based on an earlier work, but one authored by Shāh Ismā‘īl al-Dehlawī himself in Arabic, called Radd al-Ishrāk. Based on the testimony of experts, Shāh Ismā‘īl al-Dehlawī’s definition of Tawḥīd and Shirk in the introduction to Radd al-Ishrāk is completely different from, and opposed to, the definition of Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb. See here for details.]

Since a whole book was fabricated to defame Shāh Ismā‘īl Shahīd, and was presented as evidence by a predecessor to Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī, is it hard to believe a fatwā was invented to defame Maulānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī and was then presented as evidence by Aḥmad Riḍā Khān to make a definitive verdict of takfīr against him?

 


 

Update

An individual writing online has claimed that the handwriting in the manuscript of the fatwā that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān ascribed to Maulānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī and used to make takfīr on him (as shown above) resembles Maulānā Gangohī’s actual handwriting – as though this is enough to prove the attribution!

It should be noted Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī himself said handwriting is not considered to be proof. (Malfūẓāt A‘lā Ḥaḍrat, p235)

It is also common sense that if a fatwā was going to be fabricated in the name of someone to defame him, the fabricators would ensure the handwriting is similar.

Moreover, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān says in his treatise Ḥajb al-‘Awār: “[Merely] on account of a book or treatise being ascribed to the name of a buzurg, definitive authenticity is not entailed. Many treatises are attributed particularly in the name of the seniors of Chisht which are not established at all.” (Fatāwā Riḍawiyyah, 15:556)

He explains that people had made insertions, interpolations and fabrications in the writings of others. Hence, one must base the attribution of a work or piece of writing to an author on solid, reliable evidence.

Just the “handwriting being similar” or “it having a name and seal on it” are not sufficient evidence that it belongs to the person being claimed to be the author, especially when it opposes what he clearly stated in a well-established statement, he himself denies the attribution, it is not recognised by any of his students and associates and has consistently been rejected by them as a forgery – as is the case here.


Barelwī Browbeating & Propaganda Against Deobandīs – UK Barelwīs Write to Muḥammad Ya‘qūbī

March 7, 2020

Recently, UK Barelwīs wrote a letter to Muḥammad Ya‘qūbī castigating him for calling to unity with different groups. The letter can be found here. While there are legitimate grounds to question “uniting” with groups like the Shī‘ah, the Barelwī letter-writers repeat age-old false propaganda against Deobandīs (p3-6), and ask Ya‘qūbī to support the takfīr of the Deobandī elders (p12) – and this is what concerns us here. They repeat the false propaganda of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān despite these having been exposed as clear lies and falsehoods for all audiences, whether Urdu-speaking, English-speaking or Arabic-speaking. The shameful and shameless slanders repeated in this letter were signed by some of their reputed UK-based “scholars” and preachers like Aslam Bandyalwi, Shams ul Huda Misbahi, Saqib Iqbal, Shahid Ali, Ibrar Shafi and Nabil Afzal.

For English-speakers, The Decisive Debate by Maulānā Manẓūr Nu‘mānī (accessible here) and A Critique of Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn by Maulānā Sarfrāz Khān Ṣafdar (available here) are sufficient and detailed refutations of the false allegations of kufr found in Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn, and repeated in the letter. For Arabic speakers, apart from al-Muhannad ‘ala ‘l-Mufannad (available here), the following are sufficient and detailed refutations:

اتهام البريلوي على الشيخ قاسم النانوتوي والجواب عنه
اتهامات البريلوي على العلامة خليل أحمد السهارنفوري والجواب عنها
مولانا أشرف علي التهانوي وبحثه عن علم الغيب في رسالة حفظ الإيمان

False Equivalence Between Takfīr of Qādiyānīs and Takfīr of Deobandīs

The letter begins its discussion on Deobandīs by creating a false equivalence:

If you make Takfir of Qadiyanis due to their denial of some necessary matters of religion — regardless of their belief of Allah being One, the Messenger of Allah صلى الله تعالى عليه وسلم as a Messenger, the Qur’an as a Heavenly Book, Salah, Zakat, Sawm and Hajj — then why do you hesitate in making Takfir of the four leading scholars of Deobandis?

The beliefs for which Qādiyānīs are considered disbelievers (kāfirs/zindīqs) are not contested by the Qādiyānīs themselves. Yet the beliefs that Barelwīs falsely allege the Deobandī elders are guilty of, and because of which they accuse them of kufr, are contested by Deobandīs and were contested by those accused themselves. Hence, there is a clear contrast between the rightful takfīr of Qādiyānīs and the meritless takfīr of the Deobandī elders.

False Allegation against Maulānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī & Ḥifẓ al-Īmān

The letter begins with the allegation against Maulānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī:

Ashraf ‘Ali Thanwi, in his book Hifdh-ul-Iman, in order to show the knowledge of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم as less compared the Prophet’s knowledge to children, madmen, rather all animals and quadrupeds.

This is an outright falsehood. Details can be found in the third Arabic article linked above, and p68-80  from The Decisive Debate and p60-69 from A Critique of Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn. A summarised response can be read here and here and here.

In the passage of Ḥifẓ al-Īmān in question, Maulānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī was not trying to “show the knowledge of the Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam to be less” as alleged here. Rather, he was arguing against the use of the title “‘Ālim al-Ghayb” for the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam).

Nor did he compare prophetic knowledge to the knowledge of children, madmen and animals. Rather, he contended that if it is based on mere possession of some knowledge of unseen that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) is to be referred to as “‘Ālim al-Ghayb”, then mere possession of some knowledge of unseen is not unique to the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam); in this case, all and sundry, even children, madmen and animals can be called “‘Ālim al-Ghayb” given that they all have some knowledge of unseen. As can be seen, there is no comparison made between the actual knowledge of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) and these others.

Moreover, in Ḥifẓ al-Īmān itself, a few paragraphs after the above, Maulānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī says: “The knowledges that are consequential to and necessary for prophethood were acquired by [the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam)] in their totality.” (Ḥifẓ al-Īmān, p17) It is clear he is not trying to “show prophetic knowledge as being less” when he affirms full and complete knowledge of those things that are needed for prophethood; and it is clear he does not believe such knowledge is attained by a non-prophet.

Maulānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī himself answered the false allegation of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān that he compared or drew an equivalence between prophetic knowledge and the knowledge of children, madmen and animals in a subsequent treatise called Basṭ al-Banān, which is appended to most editions of Ḥifẓ al-Īmān.

False Allegation against Maulānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī & Barāhīn e Qāṭi‘ah

The letter then moves on to the allegation against Maulānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī, and by extension Maulānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī. It states:

Khalil Ahmad Ambethwi, in Barahin-i-Qati’ah, wrote that the knowledge of Shaytan is greater than the knowledge of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم . By writing an attestation upon this book, Rashid Ahmad Gangohi supported this disparagement.

Again, this is complete falsehood. For a detailed explanation, see this article, as well p39-67  from The Decisive Debate and p46-54 from A Critique of Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn and answer 18 & 19 from al-Muhannad ‘ala ‘l-Mufannad (authored by Maulānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī himself). Also see the second Arabic article linked above.

Maulānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī was discussing specifically certain types of worldly knowledge, namely knowledge of human actions and what takes place in human gatherings etc. An earlier work called Anwār e Sāṭi‘ah apparently argued for complete knowledge for the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) of such things based on an analogy with Shayṭān, whose knowledge of these things is proven. Maulānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī responded that analogy cannot prove such things, and while it is proven textually that Shayṭān was given such knowledge it is not proven for the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). As clear, this is regarding specific types of worldly knowledge, not about knowledge in general – similar to how the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) himself said: “You have more knowledge of the matters of your world.” (Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim)

Regarding knowledge in general, and in particular religious and otherworldly knowledge, Maulānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī said explicitly in al-Muhannad ‘ala ‘l-Mufannad (p70-71) that the Prophet’s knowledge is most extensive. He had also said in Barāhīn e Qāṭi‘ah: “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.” (Barāhīn e Qāṭi‘ah, p7) Of course “lofty perfections” would include knowledge. That is, in knowledge of things on which perfection and virtue depend, none is more knowledgeable than the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam).

But at the same time, the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) asked protection from knowledge that is of no benefit. (Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim) Hence, useless, senseless, and even filthy and dirty knowledge, are unbefitting for the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). It is no virtue if Shayṭān has lots of them and the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) does not.

False Allegation against Maulānā Qāsim Nānotwī & Taḥdhīr un Nās

The letter then moves on to the allegation against Maulānā Qāsim Nānotwī. It states:

Qasim Nanotwi, in his book Tahdhir un Nas, explained that it is possible for a new prophet to emerge after our Noble Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and denied the meaning of Final Prophet as being Last in terms of time.

This, again, is complete falsehood. For details, see this article, the first Arabic article linked above and p18-31 from The Decisive Debate and p24-33 from A Critique of Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn.

In Taḥdhīr un Nās, Maulānā Qāsim Nānotwī says explicitly that the belief in the Prophet’s (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) finality in terms of time is an absolute necessity of belief and its denial is disbelief.

Maulānā Qāsim Nānotwī merely presents an additional meaning to the term Khātam al-Nabiyyīn that along with meaning the last prophet in terms of time, it also means the prophet that topped all other prophets in terms of perfection. Several centuries before him, ‘Allāmah al-Khafājī had written: “Khātam [in “Khātam al-Nabiyyīn”] is with kasrah & fatḥah on the tā’ – [it means] the end of them and the one in whom is their [total] perfection” (Nasīm al-Riyāḍ, Dārul Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 3:31)

This is precisely what Maulānā Nānotwī stated in Taḥdhīr un Nās: that Khātam al-Nabiyyīn has both meanings of 1) being the prophet that tops all other prophets in perfections and 2) the last of them in time. To explain further, Maulānā Nānotwī said that given the first meaning (i.e. topping all other prophets in perfections), in the hypothetical scenario that a prophet came after the Prophet Muḥammad (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) this would not violate his being the Khātam al-Nabiyyīn, i.e. in the first meaning, and he would top even that hypothetical prophet by virtue of this meaning of Khātam al-Nabiyyīn. Even in making this hypothetical judgement, he made it clear that it hinges on Khātam al-Nabiyyīn in the first meaning – while he explicitly endorses Khātam al-Nabiyyīn in the second meaning also, and in fact says very clearly that anyone who denies the chronological finality of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) is a disbeliever. Given this, to claim he stated that it is factually possible for another prophet to appear is a complete distortion of what he had written.

Adamance on False Takfīr

After presenting these false allegations, the letter then declares:

All of these matters are unequivocal, certain and unanimously agreed upon as being Kufr and there is no room for any valid interpretation for these statements.

It is unbelievable how statements completely removed from what they are alleged to mean by Barelwī Takfīrīs are declared by them to “unequivocally” hold those meanings! The degree of delusion and deception in this comment is truly astounding.

The letter continues:

The controversial statements of the aforementioned books are proven unequivocally via mass transmission and all the leading Deobandi scholars are unanimously agreed upon the fact that these statements indeed belong to their scholars. One will be unable to find even two Deobandi scholars who disagree with this fact.

Yes, there is no debate that Maulānā Qāsim Nānotwī authored Taḥdhīr un Nās or that Maulānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī authored Barḥīn e Qāṭi‘ah or that Maulānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī authored Ḥifẓ al-Īmān. The debate is only over how passages from these books are (mis)represented and (mis)interpreted, namely by alleging that Maulānā Qāsim Nānotwī in Taḥdhīr un Nās said it is factually possible for another prophet to come after the Prophet Muḥammad, that Maulānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī in Barḥīn e Qāṭi‘ah said Shayṭān has more knowledge than the Prophet Muḥammad (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) and that Maulānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī in Ḥifẓ al-Īmān said prophetic knowledge is comparable/equivalent to the knowledge of children, madmen and animals. This (mis)characterisation is certainly not “proven via mass transmission”. Rather, it is clear distortion and fabrication, indeed calumny and slander.

Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn and its Attestations

The letter continues:

The Takfir of these four scholars is recorded in Husam-ul-Haramayn. The signatures of thirty three scholars of the Haramayn are present in this and hundreds of scholars of the Indian subcontinent also made Takfir.

The takfīrs of the four elders of Deoband recorded in Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn is based on distortion and fabrication as explained in detail in The Decisive Debate and A Critique of Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn.

On the value of the signatures of the scholars from the Ḥaramayn, see the discussion from Maulānā Ḥusain Aḥmad Madanī’s al-Shihāb al-Thāqib. The most prominent scholars of Makkah did not sign the document, and those that did made the endorsement conditional on the accuracy of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s claims and attributions – either explicitly or implicitly. So, given that the claims and attributions are false, the attestations and signatures hold no weight.

With characteristic Barelwī browbeating, the letter continues:

What is your stance in this regard? Is it disparagement or not to compare the knowledge of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم to children, madmen and animals? If it is then whoever is guilty of such disparagement, is he a Kafir or not? If he is a Kafir then why is Ashraf ‘Ali Thanwi not a Kafir? Is it disparagement or not to assert that the knowledge of the accursed Shaytan is greater than the knowledge of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم? If it is then whoever is guilty of such disparagement, is he a Kafir or not? If he is a Kafir then why is Takfir not made of Rashid Ahmad Gangohi and Khalil Ahmad Ambethwi? If someone claims that it is possible for a new prophet to emerge after our Noble Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم then is such a person a Kafir or not? If he is then one who writes or says this, is he Kafir or not? If he is a Kafir then why is Takfir not made of Qasim Nanotwi?

It is not contested that drawing an equivalence between prophetic knowledge and knowledge of children, madmen and animals, or saying Shayṭān is more knowledgeable than the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) or believing it is factually possible for another prophet to emerge after the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) is kufr. What is contested is that these things were said by these scholars. And as shown an umpteen number of times, the attributions are completely false.

The letter continues:

Our question is not regarding the Takfir of every Deobandi individual. Rather, specifically it is regarding the four leading Deobandi scholars, whose aforementioned statements from their books have been translated into Arabic and English and brought to your attention by Indo-Pak scholars numerous times alongside the explanation for their Takfir. Generally it is regarding every individual, upon whom the Kufr of these statements has been made clear from debates, speeches and writings. Notwithstanding this, such individuals consider these scholars as their religious guides. To this extent, after this much clarification, one who doubts the Kufr of these Deobandi leaders also becomes a Kafir.

This statement shows the efforts to which Barelwīs go to satisfy their urges of meritless takfīr against Deobandīs. They will try to throw it in the faces of outside scholars, alongside their usual deceptive “explanation” and commentary. The letter-writers should consider that maybe not all outside scholars can be intimidated and browbeaten. Some may actually choose to look into the matter and with a little inspection conclude that the allegations are false and slanderous. If the takfīr was so clear-cut and obvious (like the takfīr of Qādiyānīs), why are Barelwīs so hellbent on mutilating passages, and why do they have to distort evidence while “proving” the takfīr?

Imkān al-Kidhb

The letter then brings up the issue of imkān al-kidhb:

It is also the belief of Deobandis that lying is a possibility for Allah تعالى ,i.e. speaking a lie is within the Divine Power. This was written by Rashid Ahmad Gangohi in his Fatawa and Isma’il Dehlawi in his epistle Yak Rozi. However in many books of ‘Aqa’id of Ahl-us-Sunnah it is clearly stated that the Divine Power is only related to possibilities, not necessities nor impossibilities. This is because if a necessary matter is within the Divine Power then it becomes a possibility, whereas it is necessary. Likewise if an impossible matter is within the Divine Power then it becomes a possibility, whereas it is impossible.

It is strange that they provide references to an Urdu work, Fatāwā Rashīdiyyah, and a Farsi work, Yak Rozī, even though this issue is explained in al-Muhannad ‘ala ‘l-Mufannad, an easily accessible Arabic work attested to by all major Deobandī scholars of the early era. They probably chose not to refer to al-Muhannad because it provides evidence from the statements of the scholars of Kalām that issuing false speech within the kalām lafẓī is within Allāh’s power though its occurrence is not possible, and scholars from the Arab world of that time endorsed their explanation.

Yes, necessities and impossibilities are not included within Allāh’s power. Issuing a false statement, however, does not fall under intrinsic impossibilities but under intrinsic possibilities. It is just like putting a pious believer in Hell or putting a wretched disbeliever in Heaven – such things are intrinsically possible given Allāh’s power over them, but their occurrence is impossible. For an explanation, see this (in English) and this (in Arabic).

The letter continues to provide evidence that issuing false speech is impossible:

Lying is a defect and it is impossible to ascribe defects to the Divine Essence of Allah تعالى. It is stated in Sharh-ul-‘Aqa’id Jalali, “Lying is a defect and defects are impossible for Allah. Thus lying is not from possibilities, nor is it included within the Divine Power, just as all causes of defect are impossible for Allah تعالى ,e.g. ignorance and incapacity.” [Al-Dawwani ‘Alal ‘Aqa’id Al-‘Adadiyyah, p73, Mujtaba’i, Delhi, reference from Fatawa Ridawiyyah 15:329] In Sharh-ul-Maqasid it is stated, 6 “Lying is impossible for Allah. Firstly due to the consensus of the scholars. Secondly due to mass transmission of reports of the Prophets والسالم الصالة عليهم .Thirdly due to lying being a defect by the unanimous agreement of intellectuals. It is impossible for Allah تعالى”. [Sharh-ul-Maqasid 2:104, Dar-ul-Ma’arif an-Nu’maniyyah, Lahore, reference from Fatawa Ridawiyyah 15:517]

It should first be noted that there are explicit statements from the scholars of Kalām stating that issuing a false statement within the kalām lafẓī (verbalised speech), as opposed to the kalām nafsī (self speech), is from the possibilities contained within Allāh’s power, although its occurrence is impossible. For example, al-Sharīf al-Jurjānī writes about falsehood in the verbalised speech that it is “from the possibilities included within Allah’s power” (min al-mumkināt allatī tashmaluhū qudratuh). (Sharḥ al-Mawāqif, 8:331) ‘Allāmah Isma‘il al-Kalnabawi (d 1205 H) says: “In sum, lying being ugly in the kalām lafẓī, in the sense that it is an attribute of imperfection, is not accepted according to the Ash‘arīs. That is why al-Sharīf al-Muḥaqqiq said it is from the category of possibilities, while acquiring decisive knowledge of its non-occurrence in His speech by consensus of scholars and prophets does not negate its intrinsic possibility.” (Ḥāshiyat al-Kalnabawī ‘ala ‘l-Jalāl, p.449-50)

More quotes can be found in al-Muhannad ‘ala ‘l-Mufannad and in Juhd al-Muqill.

What about the quotes the Barelwī letter-writers reproduce from Aḥmad Riḍā Khān? Regarding the first quote from al-Dawwānī, Maulānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī contends that it is regarding the kalām nafsī and not the kalām lafẓī. (Tazkirat al-Khalīl, p145) The statement from Sharḥ al-Maqāṣid is also very clearly regarding the kalām nafsī. The original quote can be found on page 158-9 of the fourth volume of Sharḥ al-Maqāṣid (available here). In this way, it is possible to reconcile the apparently conflicting statements.

Istighāthah

The letter further alleges:

Furthermore Deobandis generally consider the one who seeks help from the inhabitants of graves as a disbeliever and polytheist. They consider the one who calls upon inhabitants of graves from afar as a polytheist akin to the disbelievers of the Quraysh who call upon idols.

This is false. Deobandīs do not say istighāthah (asking for help from saints who have passed away) is always major shirk. They regard it to be impermissible and expressions of shirk (and thus sometimes refer to it as “shirk”), but only true shirk when accompanied by a belief that the being called for help is an independent agent. This same position on istighāthah was articulated by Ḥanafis before Deobandīs like Ṣun‘ullāh al-Ḥalabī (who is also pre-Wahhābī), Qāḍī Thanā’ullāh Pānipatī and Shaykh Maḥmūd Ālūsī.

Maulānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī has a short Arabic write-up on tawassul. One of the types of tawassul he describes is istighāthah. He defines it as “calling to [a creature] and seeking his help in the manner of the idolaters. This is ḥarām by consensus. As for whether it is manifest shirk or not, its criterion is that if he believes in his independence in bringing about an effect, it is shirk in creed, of a blasphemous nature…[and otherwise, it is not]” (Bawādir al-Nawādir, p. 706) Then, explaining the meaning of “independence”, he says:

معنى استقلاله أن الله قد فوض إليه الأمور بحيث لا يحتاج في إمضائها إلى مشيئته الجزئية وإن قدر على عزله عن هذا التفويض

“The meaning of his ‘independence’ is that Allāh had authorised him with powers in such a way that he does not need His particular will in [each instance of] executing those [powers], although He has the ability to depose him from this authorisation.” (Bawādir al-Nawādir, p. 708)

He has also explained a similar principle in a work called Nihāyat al-Idrāk fi Aqsām al-Ishrāk, which has been translated.

Maulānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī also differentiates between different beliefs, and does not state istighāthah is automatically shirk akbar. He references Shah Isḥāq Dehlawī, the grandson and successor of Shāh ‘Abdul Azīz Dehlawī.

Mawlid

They continue:

They consider those who commemorate the Mawlid as misguided innovators etc.

To celebrate the birthday of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) in the month of Rabī‘ al-Awwal as an institutionalised, habitual, ritual practice done each year is indeed an innovation. Deobandī elders were not the only ones to denounce this practice. Abū Isḥāq al-Shāṭibī, Tāj al-Dīn al-Fākihānī, Abū ‘Abdillāh al-Ḥaffār and other scholars had also denounced the birthday celebration, which was initially introduced by the Shī‘ī Rawāfiḍ some time around the fourth or fifth centuries of Hijrah.

Deobandīs do not have issue with holding a gathering, without ritualising or institutionalising a particular time, to praise and glorify the Prophet Muḥammad (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). For more detail, see here and here.

Takfīr

The letter-writers finally make the absurd claim:

The Wahhabis and Deobandis consider Ahl-us-Sunnah as hell bound polytheists. Are such Wahhabis and Deobandis people of truth?

Takfīr is the pastime of Barelwīs and Wahhābīs, not Deobandīs. Deobandīs do not consider Ahl al-Sunnah to be hell-bound polytheists. On the other hand, Barelwīs do consider innocent imāms of Ahl al-Sunnah and those who do not consider them to be disbelievers hell-bound disbelievers. Maulānā Ḥusayn Aḥmad Madanī points out in al-Shihāb al-Thāqib (p221-4) that in truth it is Barelwīs that resemble Wahhābīs in their most characteristic trait i.e. takfīr, and thus are more deserving of that appellation than Deobandīs.

Concluding Note

Evidence-based critique of the takfīr and false allegations against Deobandīs as presented above generally elude dyed-in-the-wool Barelwīs like those that authored this letter. For them it makes no difference whether an explanation is given or not, whether their misinformation is exposed or not. The verdict given by Maulānā Manẓūr Nu‘mānī based on a decade-long experience from a century ago still rings true today. He writes:

In my earlier phase, after ten years of experience, it became a ‘true certainty’ for me that the educated flag bearers and leaders of this [Barelwī] fitnah of takfīr never misunderstood or made an academic slip. They themselves know very well that our elders are completely free of those heretical beliefs they attribute to them. In short, I do not have even an atom’s weight of doubt in the ungodliness that purely for their worldly benefits and interest, they wilfully slandered and falsely accused our elders. Therefore, there is no hope that if they understand the matter through the means of writing or lecturing, this fitnah will end. Not only once or twice, again and again, through the means of writing and lecturing and discussion, attempts have been made to make them understand. Books have been written. Debates have been had. And by the grace and mercy of Allāh Almighty and His accordance and support, in those books and those debates, the matter was composed and written in such a way that if in reality there was some misunderstanding or academic error then this matter would have ended long ago. But the reality is that, since this fitnah-mongering is the means of their work and livelihood, even if they are made to understand a thousand times, they will never accept. This condition of theirs is exactly like the stubborn actions of those who oppose Allāh, regarding whom the Noble Qur’ān says: ‘And they denied them, though their souls acknowledged them, for spite and arrogance.’ (27:14)

This is why I am certain that talking with these instigators to make them understand is merely a waste of time and actually helps their cause. This is why it is my sure opinion that all of this should be avoided, and the policy mentioned in these words of the Qur’ān should be adopted clearly: ‘There is no argumentation between us and you. Allāh will bring us together, and to Him is the final return.’ (42:15) Thus, I will no longer correspond with the flag bearers and leaders of this fitnah of takfīr who have made this fitnah-mongering their occupation and work.

However, it is no doubt the right of those poor Muslim laymen who, being deceived by their scholarly form and scholarly dress, became afflicted by this fitnah of takfīr, that in a suitable manner they are made to understand and an attempt is made to save them from this fitnah. In this respect a grassroots and general method is that in the place where this fitnah is manifest, to explain to the educated Muslims amongst them the actual truth and the reality of these fitnah-stirrers, and then they will make attempts to make the masses understand. (The Decisive Debate, p. 13-4)


Shāh Ismā‘īl Shahīd’s Definition of Shirk in Radd al-Ishrāk

March 5, 2020

Shāh Ismā‘īl Shahīd (1779 – 1831) wrote Taqwiyat al-Īmān (Strengthening Īmān) in 1818. Some decades later, Faḍl e Rasūl Badāyūnī (1798 – 1872) – a predecessor to Aḥmad Riḍā Khān – alleged in a work called Sayf al-Jabbār that Taqwiyat al-Īmān was literally a translation and explanation of a summary of Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb’s (1703 – 1792) Kitāb al-Tawīd, written by Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb himself – and hence was literally a Wahhābī document. Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī (1856 – 1921) then repeated this claim. As explained in an earlier post, this narrative is entirely fictional and based completely on a fabrication.

Taqwiyat al-Īmān is indeed based on an earlier work, but an earlier work written by Shāh Ismā‘īl Shahīd himself called Radd al-Ishrāk (Refutation of Shirk), which he wrote some decades previously in 1799, in Arabic.

Radd al-Ishrāk is essentially a collection of verses and ḥadīths refuting shirk proper as well as things derived from shirk and things leading to it. In a very important introduction to Radd al-Ishrāk, Shāh Ismā‘īl Shahīd explains what shirk means, leaving no doubt whatsoever that his definition of shirk is far-removed from that of Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb.

The following images are from pages 15 – 17 of this edition of the book.

 

The Arabic is as follows:

اعلم أن الإشراك – الذي أنزل الكتب الإلهية لإبطاله وبعث الأنبياء لمحقه – ليس مقصورا على أن يعتقد أحد أن معبوده مماثل للرب تبارك وتعالى في وجوب الوجود، أو إحاطة العلم بجميع الكائنات، أو الخالقية لأصول العوالم كالسماء والأرض، أو التصرف في جميع الممكنات، فإن هذا الإعتقاد ليس من شأن الإنسان أن يتلوث به، اللهم (إلا) أن كان ممسوخا كفرعون وأمثاله، وليس لأحد أن يذعن بأن الكتب الإلهية إنما نزلت والأنبياء إنما بعثت لأجل إصلاح أمثال هؤلاء الممسوخين فقط، كيف ومشركوا العرب الذين سماهم النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم بالمشركين وقاتلهم وأراق دماءهم وسبى ذراريهم ونهب أموالهم لم يكونوا مذعنين بهذا الإعتقاد، بدليل قوله تعالى: ((قل من بيده ملكوت كل شيء وهو يجير ولا يجار عليه إن كنتم تعلمون، سيقولون: الله، فل: فأنى تسحرون؟)) وأمثال هذه الآية كثيرة جدا.

بل معناه أن يشرك أحدا من سوى الله معه تعالى فى الألوهية أو الربوبية.

ومعنى الألوهية أن يعتقد في حقه أنه بلغ فى الإتصاف بصفات الكمال من العلم المحيط أو التصرف بمجرد القهر والإرادة مبلغا جل عن المماثلة والمجانسة مع سائر المخلوقين، وذلك بأن يعتقد أنه ما من أمر يحدث سواء كان من الجواهر أو الأعراض فى الأقوال أو الأفعال أو الإعتقاد أو العزائم والإرادات والنيات إلا وهو ممتنع أن يغيب من علمه وهو شاهد عليه أو يعتقد أنه يتصرف فى الأشياء بالقهر أي: ليس تصرفه فى الأشياء من جملة الأسباب بل هو قاهر على الأسباب.

ومعنى الربوبية أنه بلغ في رجوع الحوائج واستحلال المشكلات واستدفاع البلايا بمجرد الإرادة والقهر على الأسباب مبلغا استحق به غاية الخضوع والتذلل، أي: ليس للتذلل لديه والخضوع عنده حد محدود، فما من تذلل وخضوع إلا وهو مستحسن بالنسبة إليه وهو مستحق له.

فتحقق أن الإشراك على نوعين: إشراك فى العلم وإشراك فى التصرف. ويتفرع منهما: الإشراك فى العبادات، وذلك بأنه إذا اعتقد في أحد أن علمه محيط وتصرفه قاهر فلا بد أنه يتذلل عنده ويفعل لديه أفعال التعظيم والخضوع، ويعظمه تعظيما لا يكون من جنس التعظيمات المتعارفة فيما بين الناس، وهو المسمى بالعبادة. ثم يتفرع عليه: الإشراك فى العادات وذلك بأنه إذا اعتقد أن معبوده عالم بالعلم المحيط متصرف بالتصرف القهري لا جرم أنه يعظمه في أثناء مجارى عاداته بأن يميز ما ينتسب إليه كاسمه وبيته ونذره وأمثال ذلك من سائر الأمور بتعظيم ما.

وقد رد الله تعالى في محكم كتابه أولا وعلى لسان نبيه صلى الله عليه وسلم ثانيا على جميع أنواع الشرك على أصوله وفروعه وذرائعه وأبوابه ومجمله ومفضله

A translation is as follows:

Realise that the shirk which the divine books came to nullify and the prophets were sent to eradicate is not limited to someone believing that the one he worships is equal to the Creator (Blessed and Exalted is He) in the necessity of existence or in encompassing knowledge of all creation or in creating the basic existents like the heaven and the earth, because it is not from the character of a human being to be mixed up with such belief unless he is disfigured like Fir‘awn and his likes, and no one can believe that the divine books were revealed and prophets were sent only to correct such disfigured ones only. How can this be when the Arab idolaters who the Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) called “idolaters” and fought and spilt their blood, put their children into captivity, and took their wealth as spoils, would not believe this as evidenced by His (Exalted is He) statement: “Say: In Whose hand is the dominion of all things and He grants protection and is not granted protection against, if you know, and they will say: Allāh. Say: Then how are you deluded?’ (Qur’ān, 23:88-9) and there are many such verses?

Rather, the meaning is to make another besides Allāh a partner with Him (Exalted is He) in divinity (ulūhiyyah) or lordship (rubūbiyyah).

The meaning of “divinity” is to believe in respect to him that he has reached such a degree in qualities of perfection like encompassing knowledge, disposal by mere subjugation and will, that he is beyond comparison and similarity with the rest of creation; which is by believing that nothing occurs, whether from substances or accidents in statements or deeds, belief or commitments, wills or intentions, but that it is impossible for it to be hidden from his knowledge and he is witness to it; or believing that he disposes in things by subjugation, meaning his disposal in things is not from the totality of the means [Allāh has put in creation] but he subjugates the means.

The meaning of “lordship” is that he has reached such a degree in referring needs [to him], asking for solutions to problems and asking for the removal of tribulations by his mere will and subjugating the means that he deserves utmost servility and humbleness. That is, there is no limit to the extent of servility and humbleness shown to him, and there is no servility or humbleness but it is good in respect to him, and he is deserving of it.

Thus, it is realised that shirk is of two types: shirk in knowledge and shirk in disposal. Shirk in rituals (‘ibādāt) derives from them, which is when one believes about someone that his knowledge is encompassing and his disposal is subjugating he will inevitably become servile before him and do with him acts of exaltation and humility, and glorify him with such glorification that is not from the category of normal glorifications amongst people – this is called worship.

Further, shirk in customs derives from this, which is that when one believes that the one worshipped is knowing with encompassing knowledge and disposing with subjugating disposal, he will inevitably glorify him within the course of his habits in that he will distinguish that which is attributed to him like his name, house and vow and the likes of that from all matters with some form of glorification. Allāh, exalted is He, has refuted within His decisive speech first, and on the tongue of his Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) secondly all types of shirk: its foundations and its branches, its means and its doors, its generality and its specifics.

Note how Shāh Ismā‘īl Shahīd – contra Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb – very clearly explains the meaning of shirk in ‘ibādah as something emanating from a false belief. This is something that sets him apart from Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb and Wahhābīs.

Shaykh ‘Uthmān Nābulusī from Jordan wrote a detailed work on mistaken Wahhābī conceptions on tawīd and shirk (available here). Having read this introduction from Radd al-Ishrāk, he wrote:

هذه المقدمة لا غبار عليها، والفرق شاسع جدا بين كلامه وكلام محمد بن عبد الوهاب

“This introduction is unproblematic, and the difference is very vast between his speech and the speech of Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb.”

Sharīf Ḥātim al-‘Awnī, a Makkah-based researcher, has written against extremist Wahhābī views on shrik. Recently, he has posted images of this introduction from a more recent edition of Radd al-Ishrāk:

He commented:

معنى الألوهية والربوبية وبيان شرك العبادة، بما يوافق تعريفي لها ويخالف تعريف المكفرين

“The meaning of ulūhiyyah and rubūbiyyah and an explanation of shirk al-‘ibādah in a manner that accords with my definition of them and opposes the definition of the takfīrīs.”

Regarding Shāh Ismā‘īl Shahīd’s more non-technical explanation and denunciation of shirk within Taqwiyat al-Īmān, see here and here.

Another thing to note is that Shāh Ismā‘īl Shahīd and Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb can both be described as “activists”. The latter however targeted Muslims with takfir and subsequently took military action against them. Shāh Ismā‘īl Shahīd and his movement under the leadership of Sayyid Aḥmad Shahīd did not target Muslims, but carried out the work of reformation (iṣlāḥ). Tens of thousands of ignorant and nonpractising Muslims repented at their hands and perfected their Islām. (Ṣiyānat al-Nās, p4) When Sayyid Aḥmad Shahīd and Shāh Ismā‘īl Shahīd engaged in Jihād, military activity, it was not against Muslims that were wrongly accused of having disbelieved, but against actual disbelievers: the Sikhs of Punjab. They were eventually martyred at the hands of these very Sikhs.

The contrast between the ideology and activism of Shāh Ismā‘īl Shahīd and Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb, therefore, could not have been greater. To link the two is a great calumny and slander.

“And those who abuse believing men and women, when they have not merited it, bear the weight of slander and manifest sin.” (Qur’ān, 33:58)

See also:

‘Abaqat of Shah Isma’il Shahid

Mawlana Madani on the Accusation that Sayyid Ahmad Shahid was a “Wahhabi”


Latest Print of Nibrās – ‘Allāmah ‘Abdul ‘Azīz al-Farhārī al-Multānī on the Definition of ‘Ilm al-Ghayb

January 8, 2020

‘Allāmah ‘Abdul ‘Azīz ibn Aḥmad al-Qurashī al-Farhārī (approx. 1794 – 1825 CE), from Multan (in present-day Pakistan), one of the great Sunnī scholars of that region and a prolific author (despite young age), wrote a widely-accepted marginalia on Sharḥ al-‘Aqā’id al-Nasafiyya, called al-Nibrās. A recent edition has been made available online – find here.

One of the gems from this marginalia is his comprehensive explanation of the meaning/definition of ghayb in Sharī‘ah:

A translation is as follows:

Realise that people have unrefined words on the topic of ghayb. The verification is that ghayb is that which is hidden from the senses, necessary knowledge and deductive knowledge. The Qur’ān has pronounced its negation from all besides Him, exalted is He. Thus, whoever claims that he knows it has disbelieved, and whoever assents to (the claim of) a claimant has disbelieved. As for that which is known through sense or necessity or evidence, it is not ghayb, nor has one disbelieved by claiming it, nor by assenting to it with certainty in that which is certain and with uncertainty in that which is conjectural, according to the verifiers.

With this verification, the difficulty in the issues which are assumed that they are from the ghayb but are not (in fact) from them as they are perceived by hearing, seeing, necessity or evidence, is dispelled. One of them is the reports of the prophets because they are acquired from revelation and from the creation of a necessary knowledge in them or from the exposure of the existents to their senses.

The second of them is the reports of a saint because it is acquired from a prophet or a pious dream or divine inspiration or from looking into the Preserved Tablet which is established from those who experience [mystical] unveiling, although some jurists deny it.

The third of them is the report of the one who calculates the solar and lunar eclipse because it is based on decisive mathematical evidences.

The fourth of them is the reports of an astrologer and geomancer because astrology and geomancy are two evidentiary sciences that were sent down on some of the prophets and were then lost and the people became confused over them, so whoever draws evidence using a prophetic principle, he will be correct in the report.

The fifth of them is the report of a soothsayer because it is from that which the jinn inform him from observation or hearing the angels who are aware of future existents by means of revelation.

Further, we say: Many of the ḥadīths and statements of the Salaf have pronounced kufr on the astrologer and soothsayer and whoever assents to them, and several verifiers have stated that anathematisation is limited to the one who claims knowledge of ghayb or believes the stars manage (the creation) independently or believes the jinn know the ghayb.

I say: And despite this, engaging in astrology and soothsaying and assenting to them is not from the practice of the righteous people, and there is no doubt that they entail damaging the beliefs of the weak amongst the Muslims as they suppose the one giving the information is knower of ghayb; on top it being difficult for the īmān of a soothsayer to be secure as he seeks assistance from the devils.

Preserve this verification as it is from the unique features of our writings.

(al-Nibrās, p739-40)


‘Allāmah Barzanjī on ‘Ilm al-Ghayb – A Response to Munawwar Ateeq Rizvi

January 6, 2020

‘Allāmah Sayyid Aḥmad al-Barzanjī has two treatises refuting the belief [famously held by Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī] that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) was bestowed knowledge of literally every single thing in creation up to the Day of Judgement. The first treatise is available as a manuscript, and was written in 1322 H, called Risālah fī ‘Ilm al-Ghayb (available here) and the second the famous Ghāyat al-Ma’mūl written some time after 1324 H (available here; see also here). To cast doubt on the authorship of the second treatise, Munawwar Ateeq Rizvi suggests there is a contradiction between the two treatises, and in doing so, quotes Sayyid Barzanjī’s first treatise deceptively (see, for what he says: p28 here).

In fact, in both treatises, Sayyid Barzanjī says the view that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) was given ‘ilm jamī‘ mā kāna wa mā yakūn is bāṭil and an unacceptable view.

The full quote, after mentioning that some late scholars like Ibrāhīm al-Bājūrī held this incorrect view*, is as follows:

فما تقول في قول هؤلاء؟ فالجواب الذي أقوله: أن هذا القول خلاف  التحقيق ودعوى بلا دليل وهجوم فى العلم بلا مستند، بل مخالف ومبارز لصريح الآيات والأحاديث وكلام أئمة الدين الذين عليهم التعويل في مثل هذا المقام المهم كما تقدم بيان كثير منه، وقد قال الله تعالى: ولا تقف ما ليس لك به علم، إن السمع والبصر والفؤاد كل أولاؤك كان عنه مسؤولا، ومع هذا لا يلزم من قولهم المذكور كفر ولا بدعة لأنه مبني منهم على تأويل تلك الآيات والأحاديث كما هو الظاهر اللائق بشأنهم

“What do you say about the view of these [scholars]? The answer that I say is that this view is against verification and is a claim without [proper] evidence and is an attack on [religious] knowledge without basis; in fact, it is in conflict and opposition to clear verses and ḥadīths and the statement of the imāms on whom is dependence in such an important topic, just as the presentation of much of it has passed. Allāh, exalted is He, has said: ‘Do not pursue what you have no knowledge of, indeed th e hearing, sight and heart – all of them will be questioned about.’ But despite this, the aforementioned view of theirs does not necessitate [passing a judgement of] kufr or bid‘ah [on them] because it is based on them having made ta’wīl in those verses and ḥadīths, as is evident and suitable to their position.”

Note: He also refers to this view of some late scholars in Ghāyat al-Ma’mūl, p81-2, and says the same – that it is not a followable position.

The parts in bold are significant passages that Munawwar did not reveal to his readers.

Sayyid Barzanjī is not saying that the misguided view he describes is not itself kufr or bid‘ah – how can it not be kufr or bid‘ah when it opposes clear texts of Qur’ān and ḥadīth, and opposes the statements of the imāms that are depended on?! But that the individual scholars of the past who held this view will not be called mubtadi‘ or kāfir because it was based on an error of judgement, and a mistaken ta’wīl. Ibrāhīm al-Bājūrī and his likes would fall in this category.

But when a person is adamant on such a position, even after the clear evidence of the truth opposing it comes to light, then it will definitely amount to kufr or bid‘ah. Aḥmad Riḍā Khān falls in the latter category.

* As follows:

فإن قلت: قد قال بعض المتأخرين ممن قرب عصره أن علمه صلى الله عليه وسلم محيط بجميع المعلومات حتى المغيبات الخمس، منهم العلامة الباجوري فى حاشيته على سلم المنطق المنظوم فإنه بعد أن نقل اختلاف علماء عصره في ذلك قال: والتحقيق الذي نعتقده أنه صلى الله عليه وسلم لم يفارق الدنيا حتى أفاض الله عليه علم الأشياء كلها لكن لا كعلم الله، أي: الفرق بين علمه تعالى وعلمه صلى الله عليه وسلم على تسليم هذا أن علمه تعالى محيط بالأشياء كلها أزلا وأبدا إجمالا وتفصيلا ولا يشغله حضور معلوم في علمه عن حضور معلوم آخر، وأن علمه صلى الله عليه وسلم مع كونه حادثا ليس بالوجه المذكور

See for earlier refutations of Munawwar: here, here, here, here.