Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī Explains Absurd Barelwī Philosophy on Prophetic Attributes

June 20, 2020

Aḥmad Riḍā Khān states:

An English translation follows:

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

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

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

لو أردنا أن نتخذ لهوا لاتخذناه من لدنا إن كنا فعلين

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

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

An Arabic translation follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also see: Barelwī Belief about the Prophet

 


Majālis al-Abrār by Shaykh Aḥmad Rūmī (d. 1041 H) – Endorsements of Shāh ‘Abdul ‘Azīz Dehlawī and ‘Allāmah ‘Abdul Ḥayy al-Laknawī

May 10, 2020

Majālis al-Abrār was written by Shaykh Aḥmad ibn al-Qādir al-Rūmī (d. 1041 H), a Turkish-Ottoman scholar from over 400 years ago. It is a book full of very beneficial discussions on a wide variety of subjects. He mentions the objective of the book in the introduction: “I compiled it for some of the brothers of ākhirah, along with adding what I found in reliable books of Tafsīr, Ḥadīth, Fiqh, Kalām and the Taṣawwuf of the elect, and I will explain in it the sound beliefs and the deeds of the next life, and I will caution against seeking help from graves and other acts of the disbelievers and misguided & misguiding wicked heretics, since I have seen many people of this time treating some graves like idols praying near them and sacrificing offerings, and acts and statements issuing from them not suited to possessors of īmān.” (Majālis al-Abrār, p2-3) He has an entire chapter (Majlis 17) refuting the practice of istighāthah and excesses done at graves.

Shāh ‘Abdul ‘Azīz al-Dehlawī (1746 – 1824) said in his published fatāwā about Majālis al-Abrār: “It is a reliable book.” (mutabar ast) (Fatāwā ‘Azīzī, Mujtabā’ī Press, v2 p115)

Shāh ‘Abdul ‘Azīz al-Dehlawī also said according to Ṣiddiq Ḥasan Khān al-Qinnawjaī in Itḥāf al-Nubalā’: “The book Majālis al-Abrār on knowledge, admonition and advice, contains many useful points of benefit on the secrets of Sharī‘ah, topics of Fiqh, topics of Sulūk and refuting innovations and despicable practices. We don’t know more about the status of the author than what is apparent from the work – which is that the author is a religious and scrupulous scholar, and had amassed different fields of the Shar‘i sciences. How brilliant is what someone said: ‘Don’t look at the speaker but look at the speech.’ Because people are recognised by truth; truth is not recognised by people.” (Majālis al-Abrār, Urdu Translation, p36)

‘Allāmah ‘Abdul Ḥayy al-Laknawi (1848 – 1886) said: It is a valuable book, relied upon (huwa kitābun nafīs mu‘tamad ‘alayh).” (Iqāmat al-Ḥujjah, ed. ‘Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah, p. 19)

Read the book here.

See also:

Shah ‘Abdul ‘Aziz Dehlawi on Istighathah


Barelwi Belief About the Prophet

April 22, 2020

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

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

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

How do Barelwis justify such beliefs? By saying:

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

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

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


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!