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)


‘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.


Fabricating to Wahhābify Taqwiyat al-Īmān – The Case of Faḍl-e-Rasūl Badāyūnī and Sayful Jabbār

December 18, 2019

Faḍl-e-Rasūl Badāyūnī (1798 – 1872), a predecessor to Aḥmad Riḍā Khān (& someone greatly admired by him), and someone who opposed Shāh Waliyyullāh in writing (& apparently had Shī‘ī tendencies), wrote a tract called Sayful Jabbār against Mawlānā Ismā‘īl Dehlawī and his Taqwiyat al-Īmān, alleging that Taqwiyat al-Īmān is a spinoff of Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb‘s Kitāb al-Tawḥīd, and is thus literally Wahhābī in its provenance.

Sayful Jabbār was written around 1849, almost two decades after Shāh Ismā‘īl Shahīd was martyred, and more than three decades after Taqwiyat al-Īmān was written. In this work, Faḍl-e-Rasūl Badāyūnī presents to readers an Arabic epistle that he claims is authored by Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb as a summary of the contents of his larger work Kitāb al-Tawḥīd. He states that this summary was refuted by scholars of Makkah in 1221 H/1806 CE, which was penned down by a certain “Aḥmad ibn Yūnus al-Bā‘alawī”. However, this entire tale and the epistle itself are an obvious forgery.

Fabricators (including Faḍl-e-Rasūl Badāyūnī himself?) had taken Taqwiyat al-Īmān as a base text, and “translated” parts of it into Arabic, giving it the worst possible interpretation, and then claimed that this is Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb’s summary of his own book Kitāb al-Tawḥīd! One can read Kitāb al-Tawḥīd, and find that it bears no resemblance with this supposed summary. Rather, the alleged summary follows the order of Taqwiyat al-Īmān topically, but with additions and alterations that make it appear “Wahhābī” and extreme, and without the clear reference in the original Taqwiyat al-Īmān to the Hindu and Shi‘ī influences peculiar to an Indian context that Shāh Ismā‘īl Dehlawī was refuting.

The following are some examples showing clearly that this is a fabrication, and neither Ibn ‘Abdul Wahhāb nor Shāh Ismā‘īl could have written such a thing. References are to this edition of Sayful Jabbār. For the entire section describing the alleged Arabic epistle, see pages 99 – 193 of the work.

On page 156 of Sayful Jabbār, Faḍl-e-Rasūl Badāyūnī quotes from this alleged summary of Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb’s Kitāb al-Tawḥīd:

وأما الشفاعة بالإذن التي كلا شفاعة وهو المذكور فى القرآن والحديث فحالها أنها لا تكون لأهل الكبائر الذين ماتوا بلا توبة ولا للمصرين

“Intercession by permission which is like no intercession, and which is the one that is mentioned in the Qur’ān and Ḥadīth, its condition is that it will not occur for the perpetrators of major sins who died without repentance nor for those who persisted [on sins].”

The passage of Taqwiyat al-Īmān (p45) from which the fabricators drew this sentence is talking about the correct type of Shafā‘ah, which is that the sinner knows he doesn’t have anywhere to hide or run or seek protection against Allāh’s judgement i.e. he is a Muwaḥḥid, not a Mushrik. In this case, he will be deserving of Allāh granting permission to a close slave of His to seek intercession for him which will be a means of his being pardoned.

On page 169 of Sayful Jabbār, Faḍl-e-Rasūl Badāyūnī quotes from this alleged summary:

 فثبت بهذه الآية أن السفر إلى قبر محمد ومشاهده ومساجده وآثاره وقبر نبي وولي وسائر الأوثان وكذا طوافه وتعظيم حرمه وترك الصيد والتحرز عن قطع الشجر وغيرها شرك أكبر، فإن الله تعالى خصص هذه الأمور لذاته وأنزل هذه الآية لبيانه

“It is proven from this verse that travelling to the grave of Muḥammad and his sites, masjids and relics, and the grave of a prophet or saint and all idols, and likewise, circumambulating it and glorying its sanctuary, and leaving out hunting and avoiding cutting the trees etc., are Shirk Akbar (!), because Allāh, exalted is He, has made these things specific to His being and sent down this verse to explain this.”

Even Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb does not go as far as to say undertaking a journey to visit the grave of Rasūlullāh (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) is Shirk Akbar!

In Taqwiyat al-Īmān p57 the passage from which this sentence is “translated” is censuring the treatment of any place as a place of pilgrimage, where one slaughters an animal, makes ṭawāf and offerings etc. It does not refer to the grave of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) specifically; and it does not say that these actions are “Shirk Akbar”! It says only that they are “things to do with Shirk” (shirk kī bātein), which can refer to the lesser Shirk which Shāh Ismā‘īl explicitly referred to in an earlier part of his book.

On page 183 of Sayful Jabbār, Faḍl-e-Rasūl Badāyūnī quotes from this alleged summary of Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb’s Kitāb al-Tawḥīd:

أنظر كيف صرح النبي بشرك من حلف بغير الله فكيف نقول بإيمان من يقول بأبي وأمي وأبيه وبالنبي والمولى، فالحالف لهم مشرك كالحالف باللات والعزى

“Look how the Prophet has stated the one who takes an oath by other than Allāh has committed Shirk, so how can we propose one who says: ‘I swear by my father’ or: ‘I swear by my mother’ or: ‘I swear by his father’ or ‘by the Prophet’ or ‘by the master’ has faith? The one who swears by them is a Mushrik just like one who swears by Lāt and ‘Uzzā.”

Again, this is extremism not found even in Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb. What the corresponding passage of Taqwiyat al-Īmān (p85-6) actually states is: “It is realised from these ḥadīths that oaths are not to be taken by other than Allāh, and if it emerges from the tongue, then repentance should be made. Those by whom taking oaths was normal practice for the Mushrikīn [i.e. like Lāt and ‘Uzzā], there is infraction to īmān by taking oath by them.”

Shāh Ismā‘īl clearly differentiates between taking oath by Lāt, ‘Uzzā etc., in which case there is danger to īmān; and taking oath by others, which is not a danger to īmān but requires repentance.

There can be no doubt that the Arabic epistle Faḍl-e-Rasūl Badāyūnī presents here is a fabrication. Even the introduction to the epistle suggests fabrication, as it calls Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb “‘Abd al-Wahhāb”. The language throughout is poor, and is further proof that it could not have been authored by Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb or Shāh Ismā‘īl al-Dehlawī.

It is based on this fabrication that Faḍl-e-Rasūl Badāyūnī says Taqwiyat al-Īmān is like a translation and commentary of a summary of Kitāb al-Tawḥīd (Sayful Jabbār, p99) and Aḥmad Riḍā Khān says it is a translation of Kitāb al-Tawḥīd itself. This fabrication then formed the basis of the critique of the likes of Abu ‘l-Ḥasan Fārūqī (in his Mawlānā Ismā‘īl aur Taqwiyatul Īmān).

The alleged summary of Kitāb al-Tawḥīd was probably fabricated some time in the 1840s. Given a whole book was fabricated to defame Shāh Ismā‘īl Shahīd in order to make Taqwiyat al-Īmān out to be an outrageous book, and a spinoff of the notorious Arabian Kitāb al-Tawḥīd, is it difficult to believe that in the 1890s (or a little sooner) a fatwā was fabricated in the name of Mawlānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī that made out he believed it is permissible to hold the view that lying has actually occurred in Allāh’s speech? – A fatwā that he denied, as recorded by his student Mawlānā Murtaḍā Ḥasan Chāndpūrī, and not found in any of his published Fatāwā, and not recognised by his students. (The fabricated fatwā appears to be based on a passage of Barāhīn Qāṭi‘ah, just like the fabricated book was based on Taqwiyat al-Īmān itself.)

These are examples of outright fabrication, on the latter of which Aḥmad Riḍā Khān based his takfīr of Mawlānā Gangohī and all who do not recognise him to be a kāfir. The other takfīrs of the elders of Deoband are also in reality based on “fabrications”, although fabrications of meaning rather than fabrications of text, like the fabrication that Mawlānā Nānotwī claimed it actually possible for a new prophet to be appointed after the Prophet Muḥammad (ṣallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), or the fabrication that Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī had written that Satan’s knowledge is superior to the Prophet’s, or that Mawlānā Thānawī had written that the Prophet’s knowledge of unseen is equal to that of animals, children and madmen. See for refutations: here, here and here.

Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s contemporary heirs also have no problem with outright fabrication and lies. Like Aqdas Misbahi, who was exposed for lying about Taqwiyat al-Īmān, and still has not made a proper retraction or any kind of apology.

See also: the lies of Asrar Rashid, and the lies of Abu Hasan Barelwi.


Who was Shāh Muḥammad Ismā‘īl al-Dehlawī Refuting in Taqwiyat al-Īmān?

December 17, 2019

Shāh Muḥammad Ismā‘īl al-Dehlawī (1779 – 1831), who grew up in the household of his uncle Shāh ‘Abdul Qādir al-Dehlawī and studied under his esteemed uncle, Shāh ‘Abdul ‘Azīz al-Dehlawī (d. 1824), wrote Taqwiyat al-Īmān 6 years prior to the latter’s death, in 1818. In those 6 years, no one voiced any opposition to the work.

Taqwiyat al-Īmān was essentially a wake-up call to the common Muslims of India who were stooped in Hindu and Shī‘ī ritual practices and beliefs. It is clear from several places of Taqwiyat al-Īmān itself that Shāh Muḥammad Ismā‘īl Dehlawī is countering the “folk-religion” that had become popular amongst Muslims as a result of Hindu and Shī‘ī influence.

References below are from this edition of Taqwiyat al- Īmān.

Shāh Ismā‘īl says in one place:

It is realised from this ḥadīth that at the end of time even the ancient Shirk will become popular. This has occurred in accordance with what the Messenger of God foretold. Meaning, just like Muslim people behave idolatrously with prophets, saints, imāms and martyrs, in the same way, they are spreading the ancient Shirk and regarding [as divine] the idols of the disbelievers and are perpetuating their customs, like consulting the Brahmans, taking omens, believing [in the ill-omen of inauspicious] times, asking Shitala and Masani…,all such customs of Hindus and Majūs have found popularity amongst the Muslims. It is realised from this that the path of Shirk will open up for Muslims in this manner, such that they abandon Qur’ān and Ḥadīth and fall behind the customs of their ancestors. (Taqwiyat al-Īmān, p64)*

He also says:

In just the same manner that Christians say that all the workings of the universe and the universe [itself] are in the control of Ḥaḍrat ‘Īsā (upon him peace), and whoever accepts him and relies on him will not need to engage in any servitude, and no sin will harm him, and he will not have to distinguish ḥalāl and ḥarām, he will become as God’s shadow, whatever he wants he may do & will be protected in the afterlife with Ḥaḍrat ‘Īsa’s intercession for him, similarly, ignorant Muslims maintain a similar belief with respect to Ḥaḍrat Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace), and in fact even below him, with imāms and saints, and in fact maintain this belief in respect to all mullās and mashāyikh. May Allāh give guidance. (Taqwiyat al-Īmān, p91)

He further explains which Shirk he is refuting towards the beginning of the work:

In short, whatever Hindus do with their idols, these fake Muslims undertake with saints, prophets and imāms, angels and fairies, and make the claim of being Muslim. Subḥānallāh! This is the practice and this the claim. Allāh Ṣāḥib [2] has spoken the truth in Sūrah Yūsuf:

وما يؤمن أكثرهم بالله إلا وهم مشركون

“Most of them do not believe in Allāh but do Shirk.”

That is, most people who make the claim of īmān are caught up in Shirk. Further, if a sensible person were to ask these people: “You claim īmān but do acts of Shirk, why do you combine these two [contradictory] paths?” They answer:

“We don’t do Shirk, but we are expressing our devotion towards prophets and saints. We would only be Mushrik if we regarded these prophets, saints, pirs and martyrs as equals to Allah. This is not what we believe. Rather, we regard them to be slaves of Allāh and to be His creatures. The power of discretion (taṣarruf) Allāh Himself gave to them. By His approval they apply their control over the universe. Calling on them is the very same as calling onto Allāh, asking help from them is the very same as asking Him. They are beloved to Allāh, so whatever they want they will do. They will intercede to Him on our behalf and are agents. By reaching them we reach Him and by calling them we draw near to Allāh. The more we obey them the closer we get to Allāh.”

And they express [other] such superstitions. (Taqwiyat al-Īmān, p8)

From this, it is clear that Shāh Ismā‘īl al-Dehlawī is targeting a specific belief that the ignorant masses would hold: that beings apart from Allāh have independent powers of discretion (bestowed upon them by Allāh), based on which devotion of the kinds he listed are expressed towards them. It is not the case that he believed all such actions or devotions were in and of themselves impermissible or Shirk, but rather that they represent a culture of Shirk emerging from the idolatrous belief he describes. He refers to such idolatrous beliefs of the common people in other sections of Taqwiyat al-Īmān also.

He says in another place:

Meaning, [idolaters amongst Jews and Christians] would regard Allāh to be the greater Owner but would determine other, smaller, owners apart from him – the learned and the dervishes. They were not commanded to do this, and based on this, Shirk was established on them. He is unique, no one can be His partner.

Thus, He states in Sūrah Maryam:

إن كل من فى السموات والأرض إلا آتى الرحمن عبدا، لقد أحصهم وعدهم عدا وكلهم آتيه يوم القيمة فردا

“All who are in the heavens and the earth will come to the All-Merciful as slaves. He has control of them and has counted them. Each of them will come to him alone on the Day of Resurrection.”

Meaning, no angel or man maintains a position higher than slavehood, and are helpless in His grip, maintaining no power, and He applies His discretion over each one, not putting any in the control of another, and in every affair each will be present before Him alone, without making any a protector or agent over another. There are many other such verses bearing such meaning. Whoever understands these two to four verses, will be vigilant of the matter of Shirk and Tawḥīd. (Taqwiyat al-Īmān, p12-3)

In one place, he defines a person “free of Shirk” as “he does not regard any other apart from Allāh as owner, and does not recognise any place to flee from Him, and it is well established in his heart that a sinner has no refuge to flee to from Him, and that no-one’s strength has any force in opposition to Him, and no-one’s protection in opposition to Him has any force, and no-one can intercede for another by their own power”.  (Taqwiyat al-Īmān, p28)

He describes two mistaken beliefs in intercession, one which entails there are those whose dominion Allāh fears, and another which entails there are those whose love (na‘ūdhū billāh) incapacitates Allāh from executing His will (Taqwiyat al-Īmān, p43-5). Such beliefs probably originate from the Shī‘ah.

He speaks against the Muḥarram rituals of the Shī‘ah (Taqwiyat al-Īmān, p61-2), as explained in Abu ‘l-Ḥasan ‘Alī Nadwī’s footnotes to his Arabic translation (Risālat al-Tawḥīd, p108-10). Beliefs that most likely derive from Shī‘ah are also described e.g. believing in all encompassing knowledge of creation for prophets and imāms. (Taqwiyat al-Īmān, p13-4)

Hence, Shāh Muḥammad Ismā‘īl Dehlawī was refuting a culture of mistaken beliefs towards Allāh, that derive from regarding Allāh as a “superior” divine being, while there are other “inferior” divine beings with powers which were attained from Allāh Himself, and in which they are independent. He says in Radd al-Ishrāk, a work written approximately 20 years before Taqwiyat al-Īmān on which the latter work is based:

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, control by mere power and will, that he is beyond comparison and similarity with the rest of creation; which is by believing that nothing occurs…but that it is impossible for it to be hidden from his knowledge and he is witness to it; or believing that he controls things by force, meaning his control is not part of the means [Allāh has put in creation] but he has control over 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 power over 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… (Radd al-Ishrāk, p15-6)

This is also the type of Shirk that Shāh Waliyyullāh al-Dehlawī defines in his celebrated Ḥujjatullāh al-Bālighah:

The Mushrikūn agreed with the Muslims on the management of the major affairs, and in those things that have been decided and resolved and no choice has been left for another, but did not agree with them in everything else. They took the view that the righteous before them worshipped Allāh and gained nearness to Him so Allāh granted them divinity and they deserved worship from all of Allāh’s creation – just like the highest king, his slave serves him well so he grants him the cloak of kingdom, and hands over to him the management of a land so he deserves to be heard and obeyed by the residents of that land. They say worship of Allāh is not accepted unless joined to their worship, and in fact Allāh is in the height of loftiness so worshipping Him will not achieve drawing near to Him but rather it is necessary to worship these [co-gods] so they bring one near to Allāh; and they say they hear and see and intercede for their slaves and manage their affairs and assist them, so they carved out stones in their names and made them a qiblah for when they would turn their attention towards these [co-gods]… (Ḥujjatullāh al-Bālighah, p116)

If one reads the entire section of Ḥujjatullāh al-Bālighah on Tawḥid and Shirk, one will find Taqwiyat al-Īmān is effectively a restatement and expansion of what is found there. It should be noted Shāh Ismā‘īl was very familiar with his grandfather’s Ḥujjatullāh al-Bālighah and even taught it in the Ḥaram when he travelled to make Ḥajj in 1821/1822 with Sayyid Aḥmad Shahīd and his group. Shāh Waliyyullāh also said this type of Shirk is prevalent amongst the ignorant masses.

Shāh Ismā‘īl Shahīd also says in Taqwiyat al-Imān that Shirk is of two kinds: those that make a person a Kāfir and those that do not (Taqwiyat al-Īmān, p19). Some actions and beliefs he condemns (e.g. prostrating to another, slaughtering for another and taking oath by another) should therefore be understood to be referring to the latter kind; while some beliefs he mentions (e.g. belief in independent supernatural powers for individuals; belief in an incarnation; and belief in the incorrect types of intercession he describes) should be understood to be from the first kind.

If these two points are kept in mind:

  1. Shāh Ismā‘īl was refuting the folk-religion of common Muslims engrossed in actual Shirk of the type found amongst Hindus and extreme Shī‘ah
  2. He differentiated between Shirk that takes one out of Islām and one that doesn’t

One will not find anything that is problematic in Taqwiyat al-Īmān.

Note that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī held the absurd belief that Taqwiyat al-Īmān is a translation of Kitāb al-Tawḥīd. Are any of the above passages (or the passage translated below) found in Kitāb al-Tawḥīd? Does Kitāb al-Tawḥīd say one should take a person as their Ustādh and Pīr, as Taqwiyat al-Īmān does (see below)? Does Kitāb al-Tawḥīd say it is permitted to make Tawassul via a personality, as Taqwiyat al-Īmān (p82) does? Does Kitāb al-Tawḥīd refer to the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) as master of all the world and the greatest of creation, as Taqwiyat al-Īmān does?

* One point of note here is that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī claimed based on this passage that Shāh Ismā‘īl Dehlawī admitted to being a disbeliever, and had thus committed disbelief! (al-Kawkabat al-Shihābiyyah; al-Fatāwā al-Riḍawiyyah, Riḍā Foundation, 15:177-8) He bases this on the fact that the ḥadīth Shāh Ismā‘īl is commenting on talks about a wind that will take the lives of all believers and people will then return to the idolatry of their forefathers, under the commentary of which Shāh Ismā‘īl said: “This has occurred in accordance with what the Messenger of God foretold.” (Which, in his usual deceptive manner, is the only sentence Aḥmad Riḍā Khān quotes from the paragraph.) But it is clear from the entire paragraph that Shāh Ismā‘īl is talking about the beginning phase or the setting stage of what the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) foretold. This is also clear in both the English translation of Mir Shahamat Ali (“so the prophecy of the Prophet has begun to be verified in the present age”) and the Arabic translation of Abu ‘l-Ḥasan ‘Alī Nadwī (وقد تحقق ما أخبر به الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم فقد بدأ الشرك القديم), and the subsequent explanation of Shāh Ismā‘īl himself, and the fact that he ends by saying “the path of Shirk will open up for Muslims in this manner…”. See a refutation of this absurd objection in al-Junnah li Ahl al-Sunnah, p 81.

This is on top of the fact that Shāh Ismā‘īl Shahīd says clearly in Taqwiyat al-Īmān that he is a believer, in the very first paragraph: “My God: Thousands upon thousands of thanks to Your Pure Being for having bestowed upon us thousands of favours, and having demonstrated to us Your true Dīn, and brought us onto the straight path, and taught us true Tawḥīd, and made us from the Ummah of Your Beloved.” (Taqwiyat al-Īmān, p3). And he closed the book with the following: “Oh Owner of ours! Send thousands of blessings and peace upon this merciful and generous Messenger of Yours. The extraordinary efforts he has made to teach ignorant ones like us the Dīn, You repay this effort, for we are helpless slaves, completely powerless. And just as You have by Your grace taught us the meaning of Shirk and Tawḥīd well, and taught us the meaning of lā ilāha illAllāh well, and brought us out from the Mushrik people and made us Muwaḥḥids and pure Muslims, in the same manner, make us understand the meaning of Bid‘ah and Sunnah well, and teach us well the meaning of Muḥammadur Rasūlullāh, and bring us out from the deviant innovators and make us Sunnīs and pure adherents of Sunnah. Āmīn O Lord of the Worlds.” (Taqwiyat al-Īmān, p96)

———————————————-

We end here with a fresh translation of the first 10 or so pages of the book (which make up 1/10 of the book).

In Allāh’s Name, the Most Merciful, the Beneficent

My God:

Thousands upon thousands of thanks to Your Pure Being for having bestowed upon us thousands of favours, and having demonstrated to us Your true Dīn, and brought us onto the straight path, and taught us true Tawḥīd, and made us from the Ummah of Your Beloved, Muḥammad, the Messenger of Allāh, Allāh bless him and grant him peace, and put in us the passion to learn his way, and put in us love for his representatives who show his way and bring [people] to his path.

O Lord:

Send thousands upon thousands of salutations upon Your Beloved, his progeny, companions and his representatives, and show mercy on those who follow him, and make us of them, and keep us on this path in life and death, and count us amongst his followers. Āmīn, Lord of the Worlds.

To proceed:

It should be heard that all people are Allāh’s slaves and a slave’s job is servitude. The slave who does not serve is not a slave. The foundation of servitude is to correct one’s īmān, since when there is any infringement in īmān no service will be accepted, and when īmān is sound, then even a little servitude will be much. Thus, every person should make considerable effort to correct his faith, and should consider the obtainment of this as having priority over all else.

In this time, in regards to religion, people have trodden upon different paths. Some hold onto the traditions of those before them; many look to the tales of the saints; some hold as support what the Molvīs hastily extract with their minds; and some involve their own intellects. A superior path to all of these is to keep the statement of Allāh and His Messenger as foundation and hold it as support and have no intrusion of personal reason; and the tales of the saints and speech of the Molvīs that are in agreement with them are to be accepted and those that are not in agreement will not be held onto as support; and the custom that is not in agreement with them will be abandoned. [1]

The Words of Allāh and His Messenger are for Everybody

That which is popular amongst the common people [who say]:

“It is very difficult to understand the speech of Allāh and His Messenger. Immense knowledge is needed for this. We don’t have the ability to understand their speech, and to tread this path is the activity of great personalities, so what ability do we have to proceed in accordance with them? In fact, we have to suffice on such things.”

Such statements are very wrong because Allāh Saḥib [2] has said that the statements of the Qur’ān Majīd are very clear and straightforward. There is no difficulty in understanding them. Thus, He says in Sūrah Baqarah:

ولقد أنزلنا إليك آيات بينات وما يكفر بها إلا الفسقون

“Undoubtedly, we have sent to you clear verses, and only the lawless refuse them.”

Meaning, there is no difficulty in understanding these verses. However, applying them is difficult to the soul because the soul does not like obedience to anyone. Thus, those who are lawless refuse them. Immense knowledge is not needed to understand the speech of Allāh and His Messenger since the Messenger came to show the way to the unlearned, to make the ignorant understand and to teach the religion to the ignorant. Thus, Allāh (Exalted is He) says in Sūrah Jumu‘ah:

هو الذي بعث فى الأميين رسولا منهم يتلو عليهم آياته ويزكيهم ويعلمهم الكتب والحكمة وان كانوا من قبل لفي ضلال مبين

“He is the One who sent a Messenger to the unlettered from amongst them, reciting His verses onto them, purifying them and teaching them the Book and Wisdom. Undoubtedly they were in manifest error before.”

It is a great blessing of Allāh that He sent such a Messenger who made the uninformed informed, the impure pure, the unlearned learned, the foolish intelligent, the misguided guided. Whoever, having heard this verse, says that no one besides the learned can understand the speech of the Messenger, and no one besides the saints can follow his path, they have rejected this verse and have not valued this blessing. Rather it should be said that an ignorant person, having understood his speech, will become learned, and misguided folk, following his words, will become saints.

An example of this speech is like that of a great physician and a very ill person. So, someone says to this ill person: “Go to so-and-so physician, and get treatment from him.” The ill person responds: “Going to him and getting treatment from him is the job of very healthy people. How can I do so since I am very unwell?” This ill person is a great fool, and is rejecting the skill of this physician because a physician’s purpose is only to treat ill people. One who treats the healthy, and they are the ones who benefit from his medicine, and the sick gain no benefit, what kind of a physician is he?

In short, the greater the ignorance, the greater desire there should be to understand the word of Allāh and His Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace). And the one who is a greater sinner should try harder to follow the path of Allāh and His Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace). Everyone, the public and the elite, should study the speech of Allāh and His Messenger, understand them, follow them, and correct their īmān according to them.

Two Components to Īmān

Thus, it should be heard that īmān has two components:

  1. To recognise God as God
  2. To acknowledge the Messenger as Messenger

 

  • Recognising God as God is done in this way: that none is regarded as His partner (sharīk). And the Messenger is recognised as Messenger in this way: that besides his [path], no other path is adopted.

The first component is called Tawḥīd and its opposite Shirk. And the second component is called Ittibā‘ al-Sunnah and its opposite Bid‘ah.

Thus, everyone should strongly hold on to Tawḥīd and Ittibā‘ al-Sunnah and stay far-removed from Shirk and Bid‘ah since these two things cause an infraction to true īmān, while all [remaining] sins are beneath them because they cause an infraction to deeds. One who is very accomplished in Tawḥīd and Ittibā‘ al-Sunnah and is very far from Shirk and Bid‘ah and people acquire this quality by staying in his company, you should regard as your Pīr and Ustādh.

This is why several verses and ḥadīths which describe Tawḥīd and Itibbā al-Sunnah and [describe] the evils of Shrik and Bid‘ah will be compiled in this treatise. And the translation of the resultant meaning of these verses and ḥadīths will be made in simple Urdu so that that the public and elite can equally derive benefit from it. May whoever is granted Tawfīq by Allāh come onto the straight path, and become a means to the salvation of the one providing this explanation. Ᾱmīn, O God of all things.

The treatise’s name has been kept as Taqwiyat al-Īmān. Two chapters have been determined for it, the first chapter on the explanation of Tawḥīd and the evil of Shirk and the second chapter on Ittibā‘ al-Sunnah and the evil of Bi‘dah. [3]

Chapter One: On the Explanation of Tawḥīd and Shirk

It should be heard that Shirk is very widespread amongst people and true Tawḥīd rare. Most people don’t even know the meaning of Shirk and Tawḥīd and claim īmān while being engaged in Shirk. Thus, firstly the meaning of Shirk and Tawḥīd must be understood, so that the evil and good of them can then be realised from the Qur’ān and Ḥadīth.

Thus, it should be heard that most people call out to Pīrs, Messengers, Imāms, martyrs, angels and fairies at the time of difficulties and ask their desires of them and make vows to them. For fulfilling needs they make vows and offerings (nazr wa niyāz) to them. To remove afflictions, they attribute their children to them. Some keep their child’s name as ‘Abd al-Nabī (the Prophet’s slave), some as ‘Alī Bakhsh (a gift from ‘Alī), some as Pīr Bakhsh (a gift of Pīr), some as Madār Bakhsh (a gift of Madār) and some as Sālār Bakhsh (a gift of Sālār), some as Ghulām Muḥyiddīn (‘Abdul Qādir al-Jīlānī’s slave), some as Ghulām Mu‘īn al-Dīn (Mu‘īn al-Dīn Chishtī’s slave). For [their children] to live, some keep a lock of hair in someone’s name. Some tie a garland in someone’s name. Some put on a garment in someone’s name. Some put chains on in someone’s name. Some slaughter an animal in someone’s name. Some cry out [to someone] at the time of hardship. Some, in their speech, take oath on someone’s name.

In short, whatever Hindus do with their idols, these fake Muslims undertake with saints, prophets and imāms, angels and fairies, and make the claim of being Muslim. Subḥānallāh! This is the practice and this the claim. Allāh Ṣāḥib has spoken the truth in Sūrah Yūsuf:

وما يؤمن أكثرهم بالله إلا وهم مشركون

“Most of them do not believe in Allāh but do Shirk.”

That is, most people who make the claim of īmān are caught up in Shirk. Further, if a sensible person were to ask these people: “You claim īmān but do acts of Shirk, why do you combine these two [contradictory] paths?” They answer:

“We don’t do Shirk, but we are expressing our devotion towards prophets and saints. We would only be Mushrik if we regarded these prophets, saints, pirs and martyrs as equals to Allah. This is not what we believe. Rather, we regard them to be slaves of Allāh and to be His creatures. The power of discretion (taṣarruf) Allāh Himself gave to them. By His approval they apply their control over the universe. Calling on them is the very same as calling onto Allāh, asking help from them is the very same as asking Him. They are beloved to Allāh, so whatever they want they will do. They will intercede to Him on our behalf and are agents. By reaching them we reach Him and by calling them we draw near to Allāh. The more we obey them the closer we get to Allāh.” And they express [other] such superstitions.

The reason for such statements is that they have involved their intellects and abandoned the speech of God and the Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace), and they have fallen after false tales, and held as support wrong customs. If they were to investigate the speech of Allāh and the Messenger, they would come to realise that disbelieving folk would make such statements before the Messenger of God (Allāh bless him and grant him peace). Allāh Ṣāḥib did not accept a single one of these [excuses] and became angry at them and called them liars. Thus, Allāh Ṣāḥib says in Sūrah Yūnus:

ويعبدون من دون الله ما لا يضرهم ولا ينفعهم ويقولون هؤلاء شفعاءنا عند الله، قل: أتنبئون الله بما لا يعلم فى السموات ولا فى الأرض؟! سبحانه وتعالى عما يشركون

“They worship besides Allāh things that do not harm them nor benefit them and say: ‘These are our intercessors with Allāh.’ Say: ‘Do you inform Allāh of something He does not know in the heavens nor on the earth?’ Glorified is He and Exalted beyond what they ascribe to Him.”

Meaning, those that people call upon, Allāh has not given them any power, neither to give benefit nor to cause harm, and that which they assert, that these are our intercessors with Allāh, this was not communicated by Allāh, so are you more aware than Allāh to tell Him what He does not know?!

It is realised from this verse that in the whole of the heavens and earth, there is no such intercessor for anyone who to recognise [as divine] and call out to will cause any benefit or harm. In fact, the intercession that the prophets and saints have is within the control of Allāh. Nothing will happen from calling out to them or not calling out to them. It is also realised that one who worships another regarding him to be an intercessor, he too is a Mushrik.

Allāh Ṣāḥib says in Sūrah Zumar:

والذين اتخذوا من دونه أولياء، ما نعبدهم إلا ليقربونا إلى الله زلفى، إن الله يحكم بينهم فيما هم فيه يختلفون، إن الله لا يهدي من هو كاذب كفار

“And those who take protectors from apart from Him, [they say:] We do not worship them but for them to bring us near to Allāh closely. Certainly, Allāh will judge between them in that in which they differ. Certainly, Allāh does not guide the one who is lying, ungrateful.”

Meaning, abandoning that which is truth: that Allāh is nearest to a slave, and taking others as protectors; and not fulfilling the right nor giving thanks to Allāh’s favour, that He, purely by virtue of His grace, directly fulfils the desires of everyone and stalls all tribulations, but rather seeking them from others; and then in this inverted path, they seek nearness to Allāh! Thus, Allāh will never give them guidance, and from this path they will never acquire nearness to Him, but rather those who proceed on this path will become distant from Him.

It is realised from this verse that whoever considers another as protector [4], even if recognising that on account of asking him nearness is achieved to God, he too is Mushrik and is a liar and ungrateful to Allāh.

Allāh Ṣāḥib says in Sūrah Mu’minūn:

قل من بيده ملكوت كل شيء وهو يجير ولا يجار عليه إن كنتم تعلمون سيقولون لله قل فأنى تسحرون

“Say: Who is it that has the control of all things in his hand, and he grants protection and none can be granted protection against him, if you know? They will say: ‘Allāh.’ Say: ‘Then wherefrom your befuddlement?’”

Meaning, when the disbelievers are asked whose control is the entire world under, and against whom no protection can be made, they will say this is Allāh’s character. Thus, to then regard others [as divine] is pure befuddlement.

From this verse it is realised that Allāh Ṣāḥib has not given the power of control within the world, and no one can protect another, and it is also realised that at the time of the Prophet of God, the disbelievers too did not regard their idols to be equal to Allāh, but considered them His creation and slave, and they would not affirm power for them comparable to Him [5], but calling out to them, and making vows to them, and making offerings, and considering them their agents and intercessors, this was their disbelief and Shirk. Whoever treats another in this way, even if they regard him Allāh’s slave and creation, he and Abū Jahl are equal in Shirk.

It should be understood that Shirk does not depend on regarding someone equal to Allāh and comparable to Him, but rather the meaning of Shirk is that those things Allāh has made specific to Himself, and has specified as signs of His slaves’ servitude, doing them to another; like prostrating, slaughtering an animal on their name, taking a vow by them, and calling them in time of difficulty, and regarding them to be present and seeing at every place, and affirming the power of discretion for them. From these matters, Shirk is established, even if thereafter he regards them to be less than Allāh and to be His creation and slave. In this matter, there is no distinction between saints and prophets, and jinn and shayṭān, and spirits and phantoms. Meaning, with whomever one behaves in this way, he becomes a Mushrik, whether with the prophets or saints, or the pīrs and martyrs, or spirits and fairies. Thus, just as Allāh was angry with those who worshipped idols, He was just as angry with Jews and Christians, even though they would behave in this way with prophets and saints. Thus, it comes in Sūrah al-Barā’ah:

اتخذوا أحبارهم ورهبانهم أربابا من دون الله والمسيح بن مريم وما أمروا إلا ليعبدوا إلها واحدا، لا إله إلا هو، سبحانه عما يشركون

“They determine their scholars and dervishes as their owners apart from Allāh, as well as the Messiah son of Maryam, while they were commanded to worship One God, there is no God but He; He is Unique from those they make His partners.”

Meaning, they would regard Allāh to be the greater Owner but would determine other, smaller, owners apart from him – scholars and dervishes. They were not commanded to do this, and based on this Shirk was established on them. And He is unique, no one can be His partner. Thus, He states in Sūrah Maryam:

إن كل من فى السموات والأرض إلا آتى الرحمن عبدا، لقد أحصهم وعدهم عدا وكلهم آتيه يوم القيمة فردا

“All that are in the heavens and the eeath will come to the All-Merciful as slaves. He has control of them and counted them. Each of them will come to him alone on the Day of Resurreciton.”

Meaning, no angel or man maintains a position higher than slavehood, and are helpless under His sovereignty, maintaining no power, and He applies His discretion over each one, not putting any in the control of another, and in every affair each will be present before Him alone, without making any a protector or agent over another. There are many other such verses bearing such meaning. Whoever understands these two to four verses, will be vigilant of the matter of Shirk and Tawḥīd.

Now, this matter ought to be scrutinised, which matters has Allāh Ṣāḥib made specific to Himself, which no one can be made partner with Him in? These are many. But it is necessary to mention several matters and prove them from Qur’ān and Ḥadīth, so that people can understand all other matters from them.

[1] Shāh Ismā‘īl Dehlawī is not denouncing all adherence to scholarly and saintly guidance, but only that which goes against clear teachings of Qur’ān and Ḥadīth. Otherwise, very shortly after this, he instructs readers to take a scholar and saint as one’s Ustādh and Pīr, when they adhere strictly to the fundamental teachings of Qur’ān and Ḥadīth (of Tawḥīd and Ittibā‘ al-Sunnah).

[2] “In old Urdu the expression ‘Allāh Ṣāḥib said…’ would be used, but in new Urdu its use has been discarded. It appears that at that time, it would be treated as a term of veneration, but in the later vernacular it did not hold such veneration that it be used for Allāh Most Exalted, noble prophets or ṣaḥābah/tābi‘īn.” (Mawlānā Yūsuf Ludhyānwī) Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī was asked if the expression ‘Allāh Ṣāḥib’ is permissible; he replied: “It is permissible.” (Malfūẓāt A‘lā Ḥaḍrat, Da‘wat Islāmī, p. 327)

[3] Shāh Ismā‘īl did not include the section on Bid‘ah in this work.

[4] An independent protector, apart from Allāh.

[5] From this it is clear that Shāh Ismā‘īl al-Dehlawī believed that the disbelievers would affirm independent powers (bestowed by Allāh Himself) for the gods, albeit powers that were not on par with Allāh’s powers.