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

March 17, 2020

Read this and this first.

Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s Allegation & A Brief Explanation of his Deception

Aḥmad Riḍā Khān claimed the author of Barāhīn e Qāṭi‘ah (written in: 1887), Maulānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī (1852 – 1927), considered Shayṭān more knowledgeable than the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), and had thus blasphemed him and diminished his status.

But in making this allegation, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān is guilty of deception because:

  1. Maulānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī did not make a general statement about all types of knowledge
  2. He said explicitly in the very same context about the type of knowledge under discussion that it does not prove virtue and excellence, and hence to say Shayṭān has more of this worthless/valueless knowledge than the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) does not at all diminish the status of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). In fact, as we will see below, to say the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) does not have extensive knowledge of insignificant details of the world, even if Shayṭān does, elevates his status and does not diminish it.

The Allegation in Tamhīd e Īmān

In the Urdu work Tamhīd e Īmān (written in: 1908), Aḥmad Riḍā Khān presents the allegation as follows:

“Say with fairness and faith, has not the one who has said: ‘This extensiveness of Shayṭān is proven by text, & from which categorical text is the Pride of the World’s extensive knowledge proven?’ committed blasphemy in respect to Muḥammad Rasūlullāh? Has he not regarded the knowledge of the accursed Iblīs to be more than the holy knowledge of Rasūlullāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace)? Has he not disbelieved in the expansive knowledge of Rasūlullāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) and adopted faith in the expansive knowledge of Shayṭān?” (Fatāwā Riḍawiyyah, 30:316)

Note: As explained in detail here, the example of Shayṭān was only used in response to the author of Anwār e Sāṭi‘ah, who was the first to bring up the example of Shayṭān to apparently argue by analogy for the Prophet’s extensive knowledge of insignificant worldly details. Moreover, in the passage of Barāhīn e Qāṭi‘ah in question, both Shayṭān and the Angel of Death are mentioned, while Aḥmad Riḍā Khān here only mentions Shayṭān, of course to play on the emotions of readers and achieve greatest impact.

al-Mustanad al-Mu‘tamad and Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn

Aḥmad Riḍā Khān presents the allegation in the Arabic work al-Mustanad al-Mu‘tamad (written in: 1902) as follows:

The part that is relevant to the takfīr is as follows:

صرح في كتابه البراهين القاطعة…بأن شيخهم إبليس أوسع علما من رسول الله صلى الله تعالى عليه وسلم…وقد قال في نسيم الرياض كما تقدم: من قال فلان أعلم منه صلى الله تعالى عليه وسلم فقد عابه ونقصه فهو ساب، والحكم فيه حكم الساب من غير فرق، لا تستثني من صورة

“He stated explicitly in his book al-Barāhīn al-Qāṭi‘ah that their teacher Iblīs has more expansive knowledge than Allāh’s Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace)…It states in Nasīm al-Riyāḍ as has preceded: ‘Whoever says so-and-so is more knowledgeable than him (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) has faulted him, diminished him so is an insulter and the ruling about him is the ruling of an insulter without differentiating, we make no exception of any situation.’” (al-Mustanad al-Mu‘tamad, p226-7)

Aḥmad Riḍā Khān then reproduced this in Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn (written in: 1906).

The Quote from Nasīm al-Riyāḍ

The first thing to note is that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān played around with the quote from Nasīm al-Riyāḍ. In Nasīm al-Riyāḍ (6:146), the author was actually using the statement “so-and-so is more knowledgeable than the Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace)” as something which is not technically an insult (sabb), but an example of faulting (‘ayb) and dimishment of status (tanqīṣ). He says: “He has faulted him and dimished him but not insulted him.” Aḥmad Riḍā Khān skips “but has not insulted him” (wa lam yasubbahū), and jumps to a later part that explains even though it is not an insult the ruling will be the same as the ruling of an insult.

Maulānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī is not Guilty of Diminishment

This is significant because the passage of Nasīm al-Riyāḍ defines what is blasphemous about saying “so-and-so is more knowledgeable than the Prophet”. It is not that it is an insult, but that it faults the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) and brings down his status. The question therefore will be: Has Maulānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī done this? And the answer is a categorical no because he makes it clear in the very same discussion that the type of knowledge he is speaking of is not one on which virtue or excellence depends.

Just a few paragraphs before the alleged “blasphemous sentence” that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān quotes, Maulānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī says:

“The expanse that was given to Shayṭān, as well as the Angel of Death, and the extent of the condition upon which the sun and moon were made, they have no power to add to that. More activity will not emerge from them. Nor is lesser or greater virtue dependent on this fewness or muchness.” (Barāhīn e Qāṭi‘ah, p54)

It should also be kept in mind that Maulānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī is responding to the author of Anwār e Sāṭi‘ah (written in: 1886) who uses these examples of Shayṭān and the Angel of Death, and the sun and moon, to argue for greater worldly knowledge and worldly presence for the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam).

The Passage in Question

The passage based on which Aḥmad Riḍā Khān made takfīr is as follows:

The outcome is: It ought to be contemplated: Seeing the state of Shayṭān and the Angel of Death, affirming encompassing knowledge of the world for the Pride of the World, against categorical texts, without evidence, based purely on corrupt analogy, if not shirk, which part of īmān is it? This expanse has been established for Shayṭān and the Angel of Death from texts. Which categorical text is there for the expanse of knowledge [of the world] for the Pride of the World, based on which all texts will be rejected, and one shirk established?” (Barāhīn e Qāṭi‘ah, p55)

As can be seen, the passage begins with “the outcome is”, and thus hinges on the full discussion that precedes it. It is therefore dishonest to quote an isolated statement from this passage without the context of what has come before. Maulānā Sahāranpūrī is referring to the texts of Qur’ān, Ḥadīth and Fiqh that disprove the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) has detailed worldly knowledge. The author of Anwār e Sāṭi‘ah presents Shayṭān apparently as an analogy to argue for detailed worldly knowledge for the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). From such corrupt analogy (that goes against categorical evidence), only self-generated or intrinsic knowledge of unseen can be affirmed. And this is of course shirk. Thus, the meaning of the rhetorical question is that there are no categorical texts which affirm detailed worldly knowledge for the Prophet, so to affirm such knowledge without evidence is to affirm intrinsic, non-granted knowledge, for him – and this is shirk. This meaning is clear from the preceding discussion and succeeding discussion. For details, see here.

This is similar to what is found in the books of Fiqh – which Maulānā Sahāranpūrī quotes – which state that to affirm knowledge of a marriage session for the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) is disbelief but it is not disbelief if affirmed for the angels on the right and left shoulders. It states in al-Fatāwā al-Bazzāziyyah:

A [man] weds [a woman] without witnesses, saying: ‘I make the Messenger of Allāh and Angels witness’, he has become a Kāfir, because he believes that the Messenger and Angel know the Ghayb, as distinguished from his saying: ‘I make the angel on the left shoulder and the angel on the right shoulder witness’, he would not become Kāfir, because they are aware [of that].” (al-Fatāwā al-Bazzāziyyah, 6:325)

In al-Muḥīṭ al-Burhānī (Idārat al-Qur’ān, 7:407), the same is found ending with: “because they are aware of that as they are not absent from him.”

Diminishing or Elevating Prophetic Status?

If someone said as an isolated statement: “So-and-so is more knowledgeable than the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasllam)”, this is no doubt diminishing the status of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) and is disbelief. But if someone says: “In matters on which virtue does not depend, like knowledge on worldly gatherings and interactions, and details about insignificant worldly details, another has more knowledge than the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam),” this is not diminishing the status of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam).

The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) himself said:

أَنْتُم أعلم بأمر دنياكم

“You are more knowledgeable of the affairs of your world.” (Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim)

In matters of virtue, Maulānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī clearly states the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) is most knowledgeable. He says in a later work al-Muhannad ‘ala ‘l-Mufannad (written in: 1907):

“We say with the tongue and we believe in the heart that our master, the Messenger of Allāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace), is the most knowledgeable of all creation, with sciences pertaining to the Essence and Attributes [of Allāh], legislations of Sharī‘ah (tashrī‘at), of the practical rules and the theoretical wisdoms, the true realities and the hidden secrets, and other sciences, the walls of whose grounds none of creation have reached, neither an angel brought near nor a messenger sent. He was certainly given knowledge of the earlier and later ones and Allāh’s grace on him was immense.” (al-Muhannad ‘ala ‘l-Mufannad, p70)

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).

Clarifying what he meant by the passage in question from Barāhīn e Qāṭi‘ah, he further states in al-Muhannad:

The concealment of some insignificant particular details from the Prophet (upon him be peace) due to his inattention to them does not cause any defect to his (upon him be peace) being the most knowledgeable once it is established that he is the most knowledgeable of the noble sciences that are fitting to his lofty station, just as cognizance of most of those insignificant things due to the intensity of Iblīs’s attention to them does not cause glory and perfection of knowledge in him, since virtue and excellence do not hinge on this. Thus, it is not correct to say that Iblīs is more knowledgeable than the Messenger of Allāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) just as it is not correct to say about a child who knows some particulars that he is more knowledgeable than an erudite scholar deeply immersed in the sciences, from whom those particulars are hidden(al-Muhannad ‘ala ‘l-Mufannad, p71)

In fact, to negate the Prophet’s knowledge of insignificant (and perhaps even ugly) things of the world is to elevate him. In refuting an individual who tried to argue from the ḥadīth “You are more knowledgeable of the affairs of your world” that therefore others have a kind of excellence (faḍl) over the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), Mullā ‘Alī al-Qārī refutes him and says this is no excellence at all. He said:

“You heedless ignoramus, is all humanity then more excellent than the Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) from one perspective because they are more aware of trade and more capable [with inventions and contraptions] of lifting stones and more skilled in dyeing and manufacturing and tailoring and cultivating and types of lowly professions?!…Despite him (upon him blessing and peace) having treated these as unbeneficial knowledges and sought protection from them…and praised the inhabitants of paradise for not knowing worldly knowledge and their knowledges being limited to the religious actions and conditions of the next world where he said: ‘Most of the inhabitants of paradise are the simple-minded’, extracted from the meaning of His, exalted is He, statement in censuring disbelievers: ‘They know the outward of the life of this world and are ignorant of the next life.’” (al-Radd ‘ala ‘l-Qā’ilīn bi Waḥdat al-Wujūd, p86)

As Mullā ‘Alī al-Qārī here points out, the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) sought protection from knowledge that is of no benefit (Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim). That the Prophet made this supplication is reported by several ṣaḥābah including ‘Abdullāh ibn ‘Amr, Abū Hurayrah, Anas ibn Mālik and Zayd ibn Arqam with authentic chains – making it close to a categorically established ḥadīth. Knowledge of no benefit would of course include useless knowledge of the world, let alone knowledge of dirty and filthy things which is unbefitting the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam).

Hence, to negate the Prophet’s knowledge of insignificant details of the world is in fact to elevate the Prophet. This is not to say the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) is completely ignorant of the world (Allāh forbid!). He of course knows the necessary knowledge of the world from which he could teach the ummah what is in its interests for dīn and ākhirah. Thus, after referring to the hadith “You are more aware of the affairs of your world”, Qāḍī ‘Iyāḍ makes the general point:

“In such things and their likes from the matters of the world which have no involvement in religious knowledge, belief or education, what we mentioned is possible for him, as none of this is deficiency or diminishment. Rather, they are ordinary things known to those who have experience of them and make it their concern and occupy their minds with them. The Prophet’s (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) heart is filled with knowledge of the divine, his sides filled with knowledges of Sharī‘ah, his mind restrained by the religious and worldly interests of the Ummah. But this will only be in some affairs…not in many, which would signify stupidity or ignorance.” (al-Shifā’, Jā’izah Dubai, p. 724)

Thus, to regard the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) as not having extensive knowledge of the insignificant details of the world is not at all to diminish his status, but is in fact to elevate him.

Final Points

When we keep in mind that knowledge of insignificant details of the world is not virtuous, and does not make its bearer exceed another in virtue, the entire premise on which Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī made takfīr on Maulānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī is proven false. Maulānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī clearly states the matters under discussion are those referred to by the author of Anwār e Sāṭi‘ah, i.e. insignificant details of the world, and clearly states in Barāhīn e Qāṭi‘ah itself that these are not what virtue depends on.

In fact, it is a virtue of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) to be unaware of these useless, insignificant details of the world as it shows his attention is towards Allāh, dīn and things of benefit, and shows the Prophet’s supplication to be protected from useless knowledge was answered. In short, Maulānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī was thus elevating the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) and not at all diminishing his status.

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 )


“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!


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):


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?




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.

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

March 13, 2020

First read this and this.

How Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Quotes the Passage

The statement from Ḥifẓ al-Īmān (written in: 1901) for which Aḥmad Riḍā Khān (1856 – 1921) declared Maulānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī (1863 – 1943) a Kāfir is as follows:

If some unseen knowledges are intended what then is the distinction of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) in this? Such knowledge of ghayb is acquired by Zaid, Amr, indeed every child and madman, and indeed all animals and beasts.

A transliteration of the original Urdu is as follows:

Agar baz ulūm ghaibiah murād hein to is mein Ḥuzūr S kī kiyā takhṣīṣ he? Eysā ‘ilm ghaib to Zayd wa ‘Amr balkeh har ṣabi wa majnūn balkeh jamī ḥaiwānāt wa bahāim ke lie bihī ḥāṣil hein

Aḥmad Riḍā Khān isolates this statement even though the latter sentence does not end there. The sentence continues: “since each individual knows something or another that is hidden to someone else, so everyone should be called ‘Ālim al-Ghayb.” (kiyūnkeh har shakhṣ ko kisī nah kisī eysī bāt kā ‘ilm hotā hey jo dosre shakhṣ sey makhfī he to chāhie keh sub ko ‘ālim al-ghaib kahā jāwe).

See how Aḥmad Riḍā Khān quoted the passage in his Urdu book Tamhīd e Īmān (written in: 1908):

He quotes the isolated statement above, without completing the sentence, and then says: “Has he not clearly sworn at Muḥammad Rasūlullāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace)? Was the Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) given only as much ‘ilm ghayb as acquired by every madman and every quadruped?” (Tamhīd e Īmān; Quoted in: Fatāwā Riḍawiyyah, Riḍā Foundation, 30:317)

He continues to say – as imitated by many insolent Barelwīs today – that one should ask these “swearers” if they can say to their teachers: “You have only so much knowledge as a pig, your teacher only had such knowledge as a dog does….”

Aḥmad Riḍā Khān makes the same allegation in the Arabic al-Mustanad al-Mu‘tamad (p229) (written in: 1902):

He asserts Maulānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī said: “The knowledge of the unseen that the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhuu ‘alayh wasallam) had, the very same has been acquired by every child and every madman in fact every animal and every beast.”

صرح فيها بأن العلم الذي لرسول الله صلى الله تعالى عليه وسلم بالمغيبات فإن مثله حاصل لكل صبي وكل مجنون بل لكل حيوان وكل بهيمة

This is then reproduced in Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn, p62-3 (written in: 1906). He concludes: “Look…how he equates the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhuu ‘alayh wasallam) with such-and-such and such-and-such.”

[Note: For a full, faithful Arabic translation, see here.]

The Correct Meaning of the Passage

Recall the original passage:

If some unseen knowledges are intended what then is the distinction of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) in this? Such knowledge of ghayb is acquired by Zaid, Amr, indeed every child and madman, and indeed all animals and beasts.

Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s allegation hinges on the word “such” (eysā). According to him, the phrase “such knowledge of ghayb” in this passage refers to the knowledge that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) actually possessed of the ghayb. In other words, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān interpreted the passage to mean (na‘ūdhu billāh): “The very same knowledge that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) actually possesses of the ghayb is found in every child and madman, indeed all animals and beasts.”

It is this interpretation (if it can be called this), about which Maulānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī would later say in Basṭ al-Banān: “I did not write this revolting content in any book. Let alone writing it, the thought never crossed my heart. Nor is it the necessary conclusion of any passage of mine, as I will explain later. Since I understand this content to be revolting…how can it be my intent? The person who believes this, or without belief utters it explicitly or implicitly, I believe this person to be outside the fold of Islām because he has denied decisive texts and lessened the Revered King of the World and Pride of Humanity, Allāh bless him and grant him peace.”

In fact what the word “such knowledge of ghayb” means is: “partial knowledge of ghayb”, irrespective of quantity or quality, irrespective of the actual amount or the actual kind. In other words, Maulānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī said: Partial knowledge of unseen is not specific to the Prophet Muḥammad (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam); partial knowledge of unseen is also found in Zayd, ‘Amr, child and madman, animals and beasts.

If we give Aḥmad Riḍā Khān the benefit of the doubt and say the phrase “such knowledge of ghayb” can mean what he said, then there are two possible meanings of the phrase “such knowledge of ghayb”. It can mean either:

  1. The knowledge actually possessed by the Prophet Muḥammad (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). This is the meaning Aḥmad Riḍā Khān took.
  2. Partial knowledge of ghayb – irrespective of the actual amount or actual kind.

According to the first meaning, it is of course an insult, and is kufr, as Maulānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī himself said in Basṭ al-Banān.

According to the second meaning it is not kufr.

Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s Deception

Even with a cursory reading of the whole passage from Ḥifẓ al-Īmān, one will not understand the meaning of kufr (i.e. the first meaning) that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān imputed to the author of Ḥifẓ al-Īmān. Only if someone was desperately trying to find kufr and blasphemy in the work would he interpret it so.

But, more importantly, just by completing the sentence that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān himself quoted, one can see that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s interpretation is not possible and only the second meaning can be meant. The complete sentence, recall, is: “Such knowledge of ghayb is acquired by Zaid, Amr, indeed every child and madman, and indeed all animals and beasts since each individual knows something or another that is hidden to someone else, so everyone should be called ‘Ālim al-Ghayb.” This crucial concluding part of the sentence, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān omitted in presenting the so-called “blasphemous passage”.

Why did he omit it? Because it leaves no room for doubt that Maulānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī’s intent by “such knowledge of ghayb” is: partial knowledge of ghayb irrespective of the actual quantity or quality. If his intent was the actual knowledge possessed by the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) then he should have said: “since each individual knows precisely what the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) knows”, but of course this is not what he said nor what he meant. Hence, this is clear deception on the part of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān.

In fact, regarding the knowledge actually possessed by the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), Maulānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī says shortly after in Ḥifẓ al-Īmān itself: “The knowledges that are consequential to and necessary for prophethood were acquired by [the Prophet (allallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam)] in their totality.” (nubuwwat ke lie jo ‘ulūm lāzim wa zarūrī hein woh āp ko bitamāmihā ḥāṣil ho gie the) Someone who believes this, how can he possibly believe that children, madmen and animals possess equal knowledge?



Maulānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī’s Explanation in Basṭ al-Banān

Note: Maulānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī’s response to the allegation in Basṭ al-Banān (written in: 1911) makes the very same point/s as above. See in particular the following passage:


The Ruling on Mawlid

March 6, 2020

When considering the permissibility or otherwise of the “Mawlid”, it is necessary to define what is meant by “Mawlid”. “Mawlid” can be used in two different senses:

1. Gatherings in which the Messenger of Allāh (peace and blessings be upon him) is extolled and glorified, by reciting ḥadiths on his shamā’il (characteristics), reciting poetry on his praise and so on.

2. The public religious celebration of the time of year in which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was born – i.e. what is commonly known as “‘Īd Mīlād al-Nabī”, or what al-Shāṭibī (d. 790) defines as “treating the day of the prophetic birth as an ‘Id” (al-I‘tiṣām, 1:46) or what Abū Shāmah (599 – 665 H) defines as: “That which is done each year on the day coinciding with his (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) birth, in giving charity and doing good, and public display of adornment and joy.” (al-Bā‘ith ‘alā Inkār al-Bida‘ wa l-Ḥawādith, p. 21)

Notice, the first definition refers to a general gathering of praise, irrespective of time. The second definition refers to the celebration of a particular time of the year and treating that as a religious occasion.

The first definition of Mawlid is permissible at all times, in Rabī‘ al-Awwal and outside of Rabī‘ al-Awwal, as long as it is not accompanied by any evils or impermissible activities.

The second definition of Mawlid is an impermissible innovation. Yes, there were some great scholars after the sixth century of Hijrah who deemed it permissible, including Abū Shāmah himself, but this on its own does not make it an acceptable practice. (Some scholars who deemed “Mawlid” permissible were referring to the first meaning and not the second.)

At times, views that become popular at later times can be in error and can be a result of foreign influence. A good example is the belief regarding the parents of the Beloved Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him). In the first few centuries of Islām, Sunnī scholars were clear on their belief that the parents of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) are not saved, while Shī‘ah adhere to a doctrine of prophetic bloodline and hence believe (in spite of conflicting evidence) that they are saved. Hence, Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī mentions in a general sense that the Ahl al-Sunnah believe the parents of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) are not saved while the Shī‘ah say otherwise. But later scholars were influenced by some weak arguments and fabricated ḥadīths, and popularised the view that they were saved. A good, detailed discussion on this can be found in Niḍāl Ᾱlah Rashshī’s recent commentary on al-Fiqh al-Akbar (al-Badr al-Anwar, p. 401-449). [He also demonstrates that al-Suyūṭī misattributed the Shī‘ī view Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī was describing to al-Rāzī himself!]

Hence, just because something becomes popular in the later Ummah, and is supported by prominent scholars, it does not automatically mean that it is good or even an acceptable difference of opinion.

The public religious celebration of the time of year in which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was born, which we will refer to as “‘Īd Mīlād al-Nabī” for short, was initiated by the Shī‘ah (Mawsū‘at al-Shaykh al-Mufīd, 7:50-1; al-Khiṭaṭ, 2:216-8), whose religion is full of innovation and fabrication. It was then adopted by some Sunnīs some time during the end of the sixth century of Hijrah, and gained popular support.

Inventing a Religious Season is not Permissible

Ibn Daqīq al-‘Īd (625 – 702 H) writes:

قد منعنا إحداث ما هو شعار في الدين. ومثاله: ما أحدثته الروافض من عيد ثالث، سموه عيد الغدير. وكذلك الاجتماع وإقامة شعاره في وقت مخصوص على شيء مخصوص، لم يثبت شرعا 

We have indeed been forbidden from inventing something that becomes a symbol of the religion, like what the Rawāfiḍ invented, of a third ‘Īd which they call ‘Īd al-Ghadīr. And similarly [we are forbidden from] assembling and making it a symbol for a specific occasion for a particular matter, that has not been established in Sharī‘ah.” (Iḥkām al-Aḥkām, 1:170)

Al-‘Izz ibn Abd al-Salām (577 – 660 H) states:

وأما ليلة النصف من شعبان فلها فضيلة، وإحياؤها بالعبادة مستحب، ولكن على الإنفراد من غير جماعة، واتخاذ الناس لها ولليلة الرغائب موسما وشعارا بدعة منكرة

“As for the night of mid-Sha‘bān, it has virtue, and reviving it with worship is recommended, but individually and without congregation. People [publicly] treating this and the night of Raghā’ib as a [religious] season and symbol [of religion] is an evil innovation.” (Musājalah ‘Ilmiyyah, p.41)

Ibn al-Ḥājj (d. 737) said:

فأولى بالمنع إذا أحدثت لتلك الصلاة تسمية ووقت خاص بها، وصارت شعارا ظاهرا شائعا لم يكن معروفا إلا فى القرن الخامس، فقد صارت هذه الصلاة بهذه الهيئة الإجتماعية يفتقر استحبابها إلى دليل شرعي مستقل على مشروعية إقامتها جماعة فى المساجد والمواضع المشهورة

“More deserving of prohibition is when this ṣalāh is invented a name and time particular to it, and it becomes a public, widespread, symbol, that was not known except in the fifth century. Indeed the recommendation of this ṣalāh, in this public manner, requires a separate Shar‘ī evidence on the legality of establishing it in congregation in the masjids and public places.” (al-Madkhal, 4:260)

Ḥāfiẓ Zayn al-Dīn Ibn Rajab al-Ḥanbalī (736 – 795 H) said:

عن معمر عن ابن طاووس عن أبيه قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: لا تتخذوا شهرا عيدا ولا يوما عيدا. وأصل هذا أنه لا يشرع أن يتخذ المسلمون عيدا إلا ما جاءت الشريعة باتخاذه عيدا، وهو يوم الفطر ويوم الأضحى وأيام التشريق، وهي أعياد العام، ويوم الجمعة، وهو عيد الأسبوع، عما عدا ذلك فاتخاذه عيدا أو موسما بدعة لا أصل لها فى الشريعة

“It is reported from Ma‘mar from Ibn Ṭāwūs from his father, he said: The Messenger of Allāh said: ‘Do not treat any month as an ‘Īd, nor any day as an ‘Īd.’ (Muṣannaf ‘Abd al-Razzāq, 4:291)* The basis of this is that it is not legislated for Muslims to treat as ‘Īd beside what the Sharī‘ah has presented as it being treated as ‘Īd, which is the day of Fiṭr, the day of Aḍḥā and the days of Tashrīq, and these are the ‘Īds of the year, and Friday, the ‘Īd of the week, and anything besides this [not established in Sharī‘ah], to treat it as ‘Īd or a [religious] season is a bid‘ah having no basis in the Sharī‘ah.” (Laṭā’if al-Ma‘ārif, Dār Ibn Khuzaymah, p. 285)

* ‘Abd al-Razzāq also narrates from Ibn Jurayj from ‘Aṭā’ ibn Abī Rabāḥ: “Ibn ‘Abbās would forbid fasting the whole of Rajab, so that it is not treated as an ‘Īd.” (Muṣannaf ‘Abd al-Razzāq, 4:292)

It should be noted that this ruling refers to the situation that such a practice (of treating a time of the year as a religious season) is done in a ritualistic way – in that it appears to be a fixed ritual celebration of the religion. If it is done for obvious practical (non-ritualistic) reasons, like holding a ceremony upon the completion of Qur’ān or a book of ḥadīth, this would not fall under the same category.

The ‘Īd Mīlād al-Nabī is an Impermissible Innovation

Since the ‘Īd Mīlād al-Nabī is a ritualised, public celebration of a particular time of the year, that has no basis in the first few centuries of Islām, it falls under the category of what the scholars above have mentioned, and thus is a reprehensible innovation. Ibn al-Ḥājj said: “Amongst the bid‘ahs they have innovated – while believing that it is from the greatest of rituals – and has been publicised as a symbol [of the religion] is: the Mawlid that they practise in the month of Rabī‘ al-Awwal.” (al-Madkhal, 2:2)

The love for the Messenger of Allāh (peace and blessings be upon) should be expressed in the manner expressed by the ṣaḥābah, and if anything extra is done to make up for a shortcoming in this regard, it should be done in ways that are permissible in the Sharī‘ah conveyed to us by the Beloved Messenger (peace and blessing be upon him), not by inventing a new ‘Īd or religious season.

Regarding the ‘Id Mīlād al-Nabī, ‘Allāmah Ẓaḥir al-Dīn Ja‘far al-Tazmantī (d. 682) said: “This practice did not occur in the early period of the pious Salaf, in spite of their glorification and their love for him – such glorification and love that us put together will not amount to [the love of] even one of them, and not even an atom’s weight of it!” (Subul al-Hudā, 1:442) Referring to the “gathering some people do in Rabī‘ al-Awwal”, Imām al-Fākihānī (654 – 731 H) states “the Sharī‘ah has not given permission for this, nor did the ṣaḥābah practise it, nor the tābi‘īn, and nor the practising ‘ulamā’.” (al-Mawrid fi l-Mawlid)

Often supporters of ‘Īd Mīlād al-Nabī conflate the second meaning of Mawlid with the first, and accuse those who oppose the ‘Īd Mīlād al-Nabī of opposing the general mention and glorification of the Messenger of Allāh (peace and blessing be upon him). It should be clear that such a conflation is incorrect.

Those who do not partake in the ‘Īd Mīlād al-Nabī should not be accused of lacking in love for the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). Their non-participation is a consequence of their love for the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and for what he taught, in particular his teaching not to introduce anything new into the religion that he came to convey to us. It does not make sense to do something that the Beloved Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) would himself disapprove of in the name of his love.

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

March 5, 2020

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

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

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

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


The Arabic is as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

A translation is as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He commented:

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

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

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

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

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

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

See also:

‘Abaqat of Shah Isma’il Shahid

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

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

January 8, 2020

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

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

A translation is as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(al-Nibrās, p739-40)