Aḥmad Riḍā Khān states:
An English translation follows:
A valuable point came to me during a lecture of mine. Keep it in mind. The totality of virtues is the full standard for the Messenger of Allāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace). There are [only] four reasons why a benefactor would not grant a favour to another:
- Either the one giving is not able to bestow this favour
- He can give it but stinginess prevents him
- The one he is giving is not deserving of it
- Or he is deserving but there is one more beloved than him for whom he is reserving it.
Ulūhiyyah (divinity) is the only perfection that is not within divine power. All other perfections are within divine power. Allāh (exalted is He) is the most generous of the generous and the most giving of givers, and the Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) is deserving of every virtue and excellence. And there is none more beloved than the Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) to Allāh. This entails that as many perfections, favours and blessings there are below divinity, God has granted them all in a complete way to the Prophet. Had granting divinity been within divine power, He would definitely have granted this also! Just as He said:
لو أردنا أن نتخذ لهوا لاتخذناه من لدنا إن كنا فعلين
“If We desired a son, then indeed We [would take one] from Our own side, if we were to do so.”
It is as though He is saying, Oh Christians, Jews and Arab polytheists, you have taken the Messiah, Ezra and the Angels as My sons. If I were to take a son for Myself, would I not take the one that is closest of all? Meaning, Muḥammad (Allāh bless him and grant him peace). (Malfūẓāt A‘lā Ḥaḍrat, p226-7)
An Arabic translation follows:
إني قد ألقي علي نكتة نفيسة عندما كنت ألقي وعظا. احفظوها
إن الفضائل جملةً هي المعيار الكامل لرسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم؛ وذلك أن المنعم لعدم إعطائه نعمةً ما لغيره أربعة احتمالات: إما أن المعطي ليست له قدرة على هذه النعمة، أو يمكن له الإعطاء لكن منعه البخل، أو أن الذي لم يعطها إياه ليس أهلا لها، أو كان أهلا لكنه استأثر به من هو أحب إليه منه
الألوهية هي الكمال الوحيد الذي هو ليس تحت القدرة الإلهية، وأما سائر الكمالات سوى الألوهية فإنها تحت القدرة الإهية، والله تعالى أكرم الأكرمين وأجود من يجود، والرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم أهل لكل فضل وكمال، وليس أحد أحب إلى الله من الرسول، فاللازم أن الفضائل والنعم والبركات سوى الألوهية مهما قدرها فالله تعالى أعطاها على وجه الكمال للرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم، ولو كانت الألوهية تحت القدرة ليعطيها إياه أيضا لا محالة! كما قال: ((لو أردنا أن نتخذ لهوا – أي ولدا – لاتخذناه من لدنا إن كنا فعلين.)) كأنه قال: يا أيها النصارى ويا أيها اليهود ويا مشركي العرب! إنكم جعلتم المسيح وعزيرا والملائكة أولادا لي، ولو كنت متخذا ولدا ألست متخذا من هو الأقرب عندي؟ أي: محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم – من ملفوظات أعلحضرت، ص٢٢٦-٢٢٧
In other words, according to Barelwī logic all possible feats, powers and positive qualities must have been acquired by the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). They can thus affirm the Prophet’s complete power and knowledge – he can hear everything, see everything, do everything; fly, breathe under water or not even breathe all (!), teleport, travel through space, time travel, etc. etc. It doesn’t matter to Barelwīs that this will result in going against clear evidence of Qur’ān (e.g. of the Prophet being Ummi and not knowing the Final Hour) and going against the rule of not affirming anything for the Prophet unless it is proven.
‘Allamāh ‘Abd al-Ḥayy al-Lakhnawī writes:
Attributing a virtue or a rank to his purified essence, the existence of which is not established in the holy prophetic essence by verses or reliable hadīths, is also from the greatest of major sins. The preachers should, therefore, pay attention, and the story-tellers and the exhorting and reproving sermonisers should beware, since they attribute many things to the holy person, the existence of which has not been established therein, and they think that in this is great reward due to establishing a virtue for the holy essence and elevating its stature, yet they are unaware that the prophetic virtues established in the authentic hadīths dispose of the need for these flimsy falsehoods. By my life, his (Allah bless him and grant him peace) virtues are outside the limit of encompassment and enumeration, and his merits, by which he excels all creation, are very many without end, so what is the need to extol him using falsehoods? Rather, this is a cause for great sin and deviation from the Straight Path. (al-Āthār al-Marfū‘ah)
If one is wondering how Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s logic above is flawed, there are two things to keep in mind:
- Human virtue is mainly determined by voluntary acts and spiritual condition, like worship, slavehood, abstinence, scrupulousness, sincerity, devotion etc. It is not determined by involuntary powers or feats Allāh grants like knowledge of useless things or powers of a supernatural nature. If Allāh grants these to some and not others, this does not prove the excellence of one and not the other.
- Premises two and four from Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s four premises are flawed. It is not only “stinginess” or “another being more deserving” that would prevent Allāh from giving a favour to someone. There could be a vast array of wisdoms and reasons why Allāh would withhold a quality from someone, including the Prophet. Does Aḥmad Riḍā Khān claim to encompass God’s knowledge? Allāh says: “He knows all that is before them and behind them, and they do not encompass Him in knowledge.” (20:110) Mawlānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī said to the effect: “The Ahl al-Bida‘ treat the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) as though a god, but a deficient god, while the Ahl al-Sunnah treat the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) as a slave but a perfect slave.”
What genuine Muslims and true Sunnis are supposed to do is accept what Allāh and His Messenger have taught; not contrive some formula to justify believing in fairy tales that go against explicit texts.
Also see: Barelwī Belief about the Prophet