Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Mistranslates Verses of Qur’ān

February 13, 2019

We have encountered Abu Hasan Barelwi of sunniport carelessly translating verses of Qur’ān and making horrible errors.* (In one instance, he translated shajara in verse 4:65 as “tree”!!!)

It turns out Abu Hasan was only following the footsteps of his arch-idol, the mujaddid of takfīr and ḍalalāh, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī (1856 – 1921).

Although there were already reputable Urdu translations of the Qur’ān available like that of Mawlānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānwī (completed in 1907) or of Mawlānā ‘Āshiq Ilāhī Mīruthī (completed in 1909 under the supervision of Shaykh al-Hind), Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī on the suggestion of his student Amjad ‘Alī A‘ẓamī thought he will try his hand at translating/interpreting the Qur’ān. (Some years later, in 1918, Shaykh al-Hind Mawlānā Maḥmūd Ḥasan Deobandī had completed his own widely-accepted Urdu translation of Qur’ān.)

Unlike other reputable translations, the intention of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s translation it seems was not to be faithful to the message of the Qur’ān, but to put across particular Barelwī ideas in the guise of a translation. (Tanqīd e Matīn, p. 17-20) Hence, there wasn’t any careful study and attention to detail that would be required before writing a translation. Shaykh al-Hind (1851 – 1920), for instance, completed his translation over a period of nearly 10 years (between 1909 and 1918), carefully consulting the earlier reputable Urdu translations (mainly, Mūḍiḥ al-Qur’ān of Shāh ‘Abdul Qādir Dehlawī) and tafsīrs, and having it checked by students and colleagues (like Shāh ‘Abd al-Raḥīm Rāipūrī). (For a detailed study, see Mawlānā Nūrul Ḥasan Kāndahlawī’s Shaykh al-Hind Mawlānā Maḥmūd asan Deobandī Ka Aṣl Muqaddama Tarjama e Qur’ān Majīd.)

On the other hand, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān spontaneously dictated his translation to his student in some free moments at the time of resting at midday or at night, without checking earlier translations or tafsīrs. (Sawāniḥ A’lā Hazrat, p. 367) Barelwīs treat this as a great achievement, claiming that his translation miraculously corresponded to well-known tafsīrs (a false claim). Muslims conscious of the great awe and respect due to the Qur’ān know, however, that such a method is reckless and a great sin.

The clearest example of the “fruits” of such recklessness is mistranslating/misinterpreting verses of Qur’ān. Three examples are given below.

Mistranslation Number One

Allāh says in the Qur’ān:

قُلْ هَلْ أُنَبِّئُكُمْ بِشَرٍّ مِنْ ذَلِكَ مَثُوبَةً عِنْدَ اللَّهِ مَنْ لَعَنَهُ اللَّهُ وَغَضِبَ عَلَيْهِ وَجَعَلَ مِنْهُمُ الْقِرَدَةَ وَالْخَنَازِيرَ وَعَبَدَ الطَّاغُوتَ أُولَئِكَ شَرٌّ مَكَانًا وَأَضَلُّ عَنْ سَوَاءِ السَّبِيلِ

“Say: ‘Shall I tell you of a reward with Allāh worse than that: that of those whom Allāh has cursed and [those] with whom He is angry and [those] from whom He has made monkeys and swine and [those who] worshipped false gods/satan? Such people are in a worse situation and further from the right way.’” (Qur’ān, 5:60)

As can be seen this verse lists 4 characteristics of people that are in a worse-off state:

  1. Those who are cursed by Allāh
  2. Those on whom is His anger
  3. Those from whom He has made monkeys and swine
  4. Those who worship false gods/Satan

But how does Aḥmad Riḍā Khān translate it? He translates it as follows:

“…Those on whom is Allāh’s curse, and on whom is His anger, and from whom He has made monkeys, swine and Satan-worshippers.”

The fourth category, those who worship Satan, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān has treated as a third object of the verb ja‘ala (He made). However, this is not possible grammatically. The last category here is ‘abada al-ṭāghūt ([those who] worship Satan/false gods), it is not a noun like qiradah and khanāzīr, so cannot be made an object of ja‘ala. It appears Aḥmad Riḍā Khān mistook ‘abada (worshipped) for abadata (worshippers).

This is a clear error. The meaning of the verse and Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s translation are both very different. The Qur’ān refers to those who worship Satan as a category of people in a worse-off state. But in Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s translation these people were made Satan-worshippers by Allāh Himself as punishment just as He made people into monkeys and swine!

This is not a minor mistranslation or mistake. But shows a daringness in casually interpreting the Qur’ān without prior study. And this is not the only example.

For comparison, Shaykh al-Hind’s translation is as follows:

As can be seen, he correctly translates the last phrase as “and those who worshipped Satan”.

Mistranslation Number Two 

Allāh says in the Qur’ān:

وَمَا بِكُم مِّن نِّعْمَةٍۢ فَمِنَ ٱللَّهِ ۖ ثُمَّ إِذَا مَسَّكُمُ ٱلضُّرُّ فَإِلَيْهِ تَجْـَٔرُونَ

“Any blessing you have is from Allāh. Then when harm touches you, it is to Him you cry for help.” (16:53)

Aḥmad Riḍā Khān translated this as follows:

As can be seen, he translated the last verb taj’arūn as “you take refuge in Him”. Yet this verb is from ju’ār, meaning to “cry out”, not from ijārah, to grant protection/refuge. Aḥmad Riḍā Khān apparently mistook the latter for the former. This is another glaring error. Even a perfunctory glance at the tafsīrs would have borne this out.

Shaykh al-Hind translates it correctly as follows:

Mistranslation Number Three

Allāh says in the Qur’ān:

ذو العرش المجيد

“Glorious Owner of the Throne.” (85:15)

Aḥmad Riḍā Khān mistranslates it as follows:

“Owner of the Glorious Throne.”

As can be seen, there is a ḍammah on the “majīd” (glorious) which means it is a characteristic of Owner (“dhū”), not of the throne (‘arsh). Aḥmad Riḍā Khān made it a characteristic of the Throne. This is another clear error.

Shaykh al-Hind’s translation is as follows:

“Owner of the Throne, One of High Status.”

Concluding Remarks

The above is clear proof that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī didn’t even, at places, while dealing with the most sacred and perilous of tasks, glance at the tafsīrs. Barelwī biographers admit this, but perversely take pride in it.

Can a person who makes such reckless “translations” of verses of the Qur’ān be regarded as a pious Muslim authority? Let alone a mujaddid?! Of course not.

This is an objective test for any Barelwī claiming to be “sincere”, “neutral” and “objective” (like the liar Asrar Rashid). They cannot escape the fact that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān was careless and reckless in his translation of the Qur’ān, and given that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) has severely warned against such a practice and said such a person “should prepare his place in the Fire”, he is guilty of a grave and major sin. Can such a flagrant and incompetent fāsiq be taken as one’s guide and leader?

* https://barelwism.wordpress.com/2013/06/14/abu-hasans-distorted-translation-of-quran-verses/ . It should be noted Abu Hasan has acknowledged these stupid and careless errors.

UPDATE (23/03/19)

Abu Hasan Barelwī has written a response to the above.

On the third verse (dhu l-‘arsh al-majīdu), he points out that it is common knowledge that majīd can be read with both ḍamma and with kasra. According to the latter reading, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s translation will be correct. But it is also common knowledge that the reading Aḥmad Riḍā Khān was using is not the one with kasra but the one with ḍamma. And in fact, this is what is found in the Arabic script itself alongside which the “translation” is written! So are we to suppose, the Arabic can reflect one reading and the translation another?!

He further claims Mawlānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī in his translation treated majīd as an adjective of ‘arsh also, just like Aḥmad Riḍā Khān. But one can easily verify that Mawlānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī’s translation (‘arsh ka malik aur azmat wala hai) treats it as an attribute of Allāh:

https://ia801900.us.archive.org/17/items/BayanUlQuranurdu-MoulanaAshrafAliThanviRh.a/BayanUlQuran.pdf (p. 1216)

https://ia600501.us.archive.org/15/items/TaraajimAlQuran-Urdu/AlQuranTarjamaThanvi-AshrafAliThanvi.pdf (p. 773)

On the second verse, he claims Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s translation is the intended meaning, not the direct or literal meaning, and thus his translation of taj’arūn as “seeking refuge” is fine. The literal meaning of taj’arūn is to cry out. Yes, it means to cry out taking refuge from Allāh. But there is no reason to translate it as “taking refuge from Allāh” when there would be no problem, linguistic or otherwise, to translate it as crying out. Unless of course Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s objective was to, na‘ūdhu billāh, improve on the Qur’ān (!), rather than simply convey accurately what it says. (For more examples of this, see Tanqīd e Matīn and other critiques of Kanz al-Īmān.) Of course, if there are idioms or expressions in the Qur’ān or linguistic barriers to a direct translation, a non-literal translation can be employed to help convey what the Qur’ān is saying. But here there is no need whatsoever to move away from a literal translation.

On the first verse, he claims Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s “and Satan-worshippers” is not a third object of ja’ala but a fourth characteristic of those who are in a worse-off state (as it should be). While this is a possible reading of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s translation, it is certainly not how a person who saw only the translation (with no background knowledge regarding the verse) will understand it. What is immediately understood from his translation is that “Satan-worshippers” is made an object of ja’ala just like monkeys and swine. Abu Hasan’s ta’wil is a bit of a stretch, so we are justified in regarding Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s rendition to be a mistranslation.

—————

Abu Hasan the hypocrite claims this genuine critique is a result of “hate”. While we do not deny hating Aḥmad Riḍā Khān for his deviation and wickedness, there is no evidence that this hate has taken us out of fairness. The Qur’ān orders that despite the hate that we harbour for enemies this should not swerve us from justice.

But with Abu Hasan his hatred for the ulama of Deoband is undeniable. And it is also undeniable that his hatred has led him to lie against them.* These lies Abu Hasan has not accounted for, and by the looks of it never will. Hence he is not only a liar and a fraud, he is a hypocrite.

* For examples, see here and here.

—————

It should be noted that these are not the only examples of mistranslations or highly problematic translations in Kanz al-Īmān. Apart from Tanqīd e Matīn, one may consult the following books:

https://ia802703.us.archive.org/26/items/FazilBarelviKayKirdarONazriyatKaMukhtasarJaizaByProf.AbuUbaidDehlvi_201412/FazilBarelviKayKirdarONazriyatKaMukhtasarJaizaByProf.AbuUbaidDehlvi.pdf

https://ia902703.us.archive.org/29/items/KanzulImanKaTehqiqiJaizaByMolanaMuhammadIlyasGhumman/KanzulImanKaTehqiqiJaizaByMolanaMuhammadIlyasGhumman.pdf

Update 2 (24/03/19)

In the interest of fairness, we acknowledge that Abu Hasan’s response to verse 1 and verse 2 above do have some merit. However, the objections also hold merit. Truly neutral readers can assess for themselves which perspective they deem stronger.

Note, however, there was no foul play in writing the above. Abu Hasan on the other hand has many documented distortions and lies – clear examples of foul play, incompetence and carelessness. Will he acknowledge them? Don’t count on it.


Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s Sloppy Research

February 10, 2019

Aḥmad Riḍā Khān states in his treatise al-Kawkabat al-Shihābiyyah:

“Wahhābīs are attributed to ‘Abd al-Wahhāb Najdī. Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb was their first teacher. He wrote Kitāb al-Tawḥīd, in which he treated all Muslims apart from his vile group as open Mushriks…Taqwiyat al-Īmān is a translation of this very Kitāb al-Tawḥīd.” (Fatāwā Riḍawiyyāh, Riḍā Foundation, 15:235)

In Sayf al-Jabbār, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s predecessor, Fāḍl al-Rasūl Badāyūnī, claimed Taqwiyat al-Īman was akin to a commentary of Kitāb al-Tawḥīd.

The reality is Taqwiyat al-Īman and Kitāb al-Tawḥīd are two very different books. Refuting these preposterous claims of Badāyūnī and Barelwī, Mawlānā Manẓūr Nu‘mānī highlights and explains the “massive difference in the nature” (naw‘iyyat mein boht barā farq) of the two works. (For more detail, see: Shaykh Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb aur Hindūstān Ke ‘Ulamā’ e Ḥaqq, p. 66-8)

This is thus either an example of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s sloppy research or a further example of his deception and lies.


British India is Dārul Islām According to Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwi!

February 10, 2019

In a fatwā written in the 1880s, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī declared British India a Dārul Islām (an Islāmic territory) as opposed to a Dārul Ḥarb (a disbelieving territory). He called this fatwā I‘lām al-A‘lām bi Anna Hindūstān Dārul Islām (found in Fatāwā Riḍawiyyāh, Riḍā Foundation, 14:106-141). He also refers to this fatwā in later writings/fatwās.

He says in I‘lām al-A‘lām:

 

“According to the madhhab of our Imām A‘ẓam (Allāh be pleased with him), in fact the ‘Ulamā’ Thalāthah (Allāh have mercy on them), Hindūstān is Dārul Islām, and not at all Dārul Ḥarb, since one of the three conditions that are required for a Dārul Islām to become Dārul Ḥarb according to Imām A‘ẓam Imām al-Aimmah (Allāh be pleased with him) is that the rules of shirk are openly operational there and it is not found in an absolute sense that the rules and symbols of Islām are operational. According to Ṣāḥibayn just this is sufficient.

“However, this, with praise to Allāh, is definitely not realised here. Muslims openly perform Jumu‘ah, ‘Īds, Adhān, Iqāmah, Ṣalāh with congregation and other symbols of Sharī‘ah without resistance. Inheritance, marriage, breastfeeding, divorce, waiting-period, revoking [divorce], dowry, khul‘, expenses, child custody, lineage, gift, endowment, bequest, shuf‘ah and many  other such transactions of Muslims are decided according to our bright and white Sharī‘ah. The English officers are also compelled to take fatwā from the respected ‘Ulamā’ and implement and enforce them in these matters even if they are Hindus, Majūs or Christians. With praise to Allāh, this is also the supremacy and the power of the lofty elevated Sharī‘ah, Allāh elevate its glorious rule, since opponents are forced to follow and obey it.” (Fatāwā Riḍawiyyah, 14:106-7)

This is a nonsensical and delusional fatwā. The British did not resort to the ‘Ulamā’ because they were compelled in any way; but because this was their policy, and in accordance with their interests. Their policy was to not interfere in a community’s innocuous ritual devotions. They probably also knew they could win some dim-witted Muslims over by employing such a tactic – and they definitely succeeded with Aḥmad Riḍā Khān! Aḥmad Riḍā Khān even goes as far as to say: “There is no doubt in Hindūstān being Dārul Islām!” (ibid. 14:115)

Aḥmad Riḍā Khān quotes several fiqh passages which he thinks supports his thesis. What these passages really mean is that if Muslims can operationalise their rules by their own sovereignty and power, by their own military might and strength (and not by mere permission), then the land they reside in is Dārul Islām. Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s view has the strange consequence that western nations like the UK and USA would be regarded as Dārul Islām because Jumu‘ah, ‘Īd and other Islāmic rules are conducted there without any resistance.

For a proper understanding of this matter by a real Ḥanafī faqīh of that era, see Mawlānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī’s detailed fatwā, translated here:

https://reliablefatwas.com/darul-islam-and-darul-harb/

Another great Ḥanafī faqīh and muḥaddith, and one of the leading scholarly figures of India from a pre-Deobandī/Barelwī era, Shāh ‘Abdul ‘Azīz Dehlawī, also declared India Dārul Ḥarb. He quotes al-Durr al-Mukhtār, which states:

لا تصير دار الإسلام دارَ حرب إلا بأمور ثلاثة بإجراء أحكام أهل الشرك، وباتصالها بدار الحرب، وبأن لا يبقى فيها مسلمٌ أو ذميِّ آمناً بالأمان الأول، ودارُ الحرب تصير دارَ الإسلام بإجراء أحكام أهل الإسلام فيها

“Dārul Islām does not become Dārul Ḥarb except with three things: with the operationalising of laws of idolaters, with its joining with Dārul Ḥarb, and with no Muslim or Dhimmi remaining secure therein with the previous amnesty. And Dārul Ḥarb becomes Dārul Islām with the operationalising of the laws of Muslims therein.”

He then quotes a passage from al-Kāfī:

إن المراد ببلاد إسلام بلاد يجرى فيها حكم إمام المسلمين ويكون تحت قهره، وبدار الحرب بلاد يجرى فيها أمر عظيمها ويكون تحت قهره

“The intent of ‘the lands of Islām’ are lands in which the rule of the imām of the Muslims is enforced and is under his control, and of ‘Dār al-Ḥarb’ is lands in which the command of its ruler is enforced and is under his control.”

Shāh ‘Abdul ‘Azīz then says:

“In this city, the rule of the Imām al-Muslimīn is not operational at all, while the rule of Christian officers is in operation with no fear. The promulgation of the commands of kufr means that in administration and justice, collection of tax and revenue, policing bandits and thieves, deciding disputes and punishing offences, – disbelievers are independently powerful. Yes, there are certain Islāmic laws, e.g. Jumu‘ah and ‘Īd prayers, Adhān and cow slaughter, in which they make no interference; but the very root of these rituals is of no value to them. They demolish mosques without the least hesitation and no Muslim or any dhimmi can enter into the city or its suburbs but with their permission. It is in their own interests if they do not object to the travellers and traders to visit the city. On the other hand, distinguished persons like Shujā‘ al-Mulk and Vilayati Begum cannot dare visit the city without their permission. From here to Calcutta the Christians are in complete control. There is no doubt that in principalities like Hyderabad, Rampur, Lucknow etc., [the British] have left the administration in the hands of the local authorities, but it is because they have accepted the lordship [of the British] and have submitted to their authority.” (Fatāwā ‘Azīzī, Maṭba‘ Mujtabā’ī, p. 16-7)

He then explains that in the time of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) and khulafā’ there were lands that were considered Dārul Ḥarb despite some of the salient aspects of Islām being conducted by the Muslims residing there.

This is an example of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s tafaqquh-less (bereft of understanding) “fiqh”, and his departure from the traditional scholarship of India; while the ‘Ulamā’ of Deoband upheld and explained the correct Ḥanafī understanding in accordance with what their learned predecessors taught.

It also demonstrates how Aḥmad Riḍā Khān promoted a clearly Kāfir government as “Islāmic” while denouncing the workers of Islām and great saints and ‘Ulamā’ of his time as “Kāfirs” (precisely the behaviour that would be expected of a munāfiq). (Rāh e Sunnat, p. 7)


Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s Mad Takfīrism

February 4, 2019

Aḥmad Riḍā Khān states:

The worst of the murtaddīn is the murtadd munāfiq –whose company is more harmful than the company of a thousand Kāfirs, since they teach Kufr while behaving as Muslims. Especially the Deobandī Wahhābīs, because they call themselves specifically Ahl al-Sunnah wa l Jamā‘ah, and behave as Ḥanafīs, behave as Chishtī Naqshbandīs. They pray and fast like we do; they read and teach our books; and they swear at Allāh and His Messenger.* They are the deadliest poison. (Aḥkām e Sharī‘at, p. 130)

* When quoting this passage, Mawlānā Sarfrāz Khān Ṣafdar comments on these words: “Allāh’s curse be on the liars.” (Rāh e Sunnat, p. 7)

Aḥmad Riḍā Khān also says:

The Tabarrā’ī Rāfiḍī, Deobandī Wahhābī, Ghayr Muqallid Wahhābī, Qādiyānī, Chakrālwī (“Ahl al-Qur’ān”), naturists (Sayyid Aḥmad Khān etc.) – the slaughtered meat of all of these is pure filth and carrion, and categorically ḥarām, no matter if they take the divine name a thousand times, and however pious and scrupulous their behaviour, because these are all Murtaddīn; and there is no slaughter for a Murtadd. (Aḥkām e Sharī‘at, p. 140)

Notice, he makes a blanket rule for all “Deobandīs”, grouping them with Qādiyānīs, Rāfiḍīs and Chakrālwīs, and makes no exception whatsoever.

Aḥmad Riḍā Khān further states:

Nadhīr Ḥusayn Dihlawī, Amīr Aḥmad Sahsawānī, Amīr Ḥasan Sahsawānī, Qāsim Nānotwī, Mirzā Ghulām Aḥmad Qādiyānī, Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī, Ashraf Alī Thānawī, and all their adherents, followers and devotees and those who praise them are by agreement of the notable scholars Kāfirs; and those who do not recognise them to be Kāfirs, and doubt their Kufr, are also without doubt Kāfirs, let alone regarding them to be leaders and masters! (‘Irfān e Sharī‘ah, p. 54)

In other words, even those who praise the elders of Deoband or regard them to be their teachers and leaders are also Kāfirs according to Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī!

He also states:

My approach is that [Shāh Ismā‘īl] is like Yazīd: if someone calls him Kāfir I wouldn’t stop him and I wouldn’t call him [this] myself. However, anyone who doubts the disbelief of Ghulām Aḥmad [Qādiyānī], Sayyid Aḥmad [Khān], Khalīl Aḥmad [Sahāranpūrī], Rashīd Aḥmad [Gangohī] and Ashraf ‘Alī [Thānawī] is himself a Kāfir. (Malfūẓāt A‘lā Ḥāḍrat, Da‘wat e Islāmī, p. 172)

Note, how he treats these senior Sunnī Ḥanafī imāms of the Deobandī tradition as being equal to the false prophet Ghulām Aḥmad Qādiyānī and the extreme modernist Sayyid Aḥmad Khān. And on what basis? For Mawlānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī, based on a fatwā misattributed to him which he himself denied! For Mawlānā Qāsim Nānotwī, based on an assumption that his explanation of the title Khātam al-Nabiyyīn in Taḥdhīr al-Nās allows for new prophets to come, despite the fact that Mawlānā Qāsim Nānotwī explicitly states in Taḥdhīr al-Nās itself that this is not possible and if anyone claims that it is he is a Kāfir! For Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī and Mawlānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī, based on a clear misreading of their passages from Barāhīn e Qāṭiah and Ḥifẓ al-Imān respectively.

Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī refutes a false analogy which affirms greater knowledge for the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) in certain (unbeneficial) worldly matters to that of Satan and the Angel of Death. Aḥmad Riḍā Khān interpreted this as Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī declaring Satan as being more knowledgeable than the Prophet! Mawlānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī argued that if a person calls the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) ‘Alim al-Ghayb on account of partial knowledge of the unseen, then this is not a quality unique to the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) since partial knowledge of the unseen is also found in laymen, children, madmen and animals. Aḥmad Riḍā Khān interpreted this as Mawlānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī having equated prophetic knowledge to that of animals and madmen!

Based on these (deliberate) misreadings, he engaged in a campaign of mass/chain-takfīr, which makes Kāfirs of a significant population of the Muslims of India and beyond, numbering in the tens of millions if not in the hundreds of millions of Muslims. Many Barelwīs who would have at least momentarily experienced or even expressed doubts over Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s fatwās of Kufr on the elders of Deoband will according to his fatwā automatically become Kāfir and have to renew their īmān!

What can this mad takfīrism of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān be called? Insanity? Madness? Dajl? Shayṭāniyyah? Whatever it is, a mad takfīrī like Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī cannot be a pious Muslim authority, let alone a Mujaddid! He must either be an insane, raving lunatic, or a wicked shayṭānic dajjāl.


Blasphemous Barelwī Belief: The Prophet is Not a Human Being in Reality but Only Appeared in Human “Garb”

January 25, 2019

One of the most perverted and repugnant Barelwī beliefs is that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) was not from the jins (species) of humanity, but was a separate creation made of light that came in human form. To illustrate their belief, Barelwīs will often draw an analogy with Jibrīl (‘alayhissalām) – who is an angel made of light that at times came in human form. Hence, according to this Barelwī belief, in his physical reality, the Prophet is not a human being. This is a blasphemous belief.

The Fatwā of Ḥakīm al-Ummat Mawlānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī

In a fatwā dated Shawwāl of 1346 H (1928 CE), Ḥakīm al-Ummat Mawlānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī (1863 – 1943) describes the statement of a preacher that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) was a human being in outward form but not in reality (ānḥaḍrat ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam dar ẓāhir ṣūrat bashar būd walekin dar ḥaqīqat bashar nabūd) as kufr. (Imdād al-Fatāwā, Maktabah Dārul ‘Ulūm Karāchī, 5:234)

The Correct Sunnī Belief

Describing correct Sunnī belief, Mawlānā Sarfrāz Khān Ṣafdar (1914 – 2009) said: “Our īmān and conclusion is that Imām al-Rusul Khātam al-Nabiyyīn Ḥaḍrat Muḥammad Rasūlullāh (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) was a human being as well as light. From the perspective of his species and essence, he was a human being, and from the perspective of his character and guidance he was a light. By virtue of him, the world of darkness acquired light. The darkness of kufr and shirk disappeared and from the rays of the light of īmān and tawḥīd, the surface of the earth became illuminated.” (Nūr wa Bashar, Maktabah ‘Ukāẓ, p. 8) Explaining correct belief, Mawlānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī said: “In terms of being a human being, in terms of physical composition and make-up, he is the same as the ummah.” (Quoted in Nūr wa Bashar, p. 82-3)

Disrespect of the Prophet

Indeed, denying that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) is from the human species is degrading his lofty status since human beings are the greatest of species. ‘Allāmah Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī (1852 – 1927) said: “To take out his (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) person from being human – which is the noblest and most exalted of creation – and placing him in another species is pure disrespect and degradation of his lofty station…There is no doubt that brotherhood in the very property of being a human being, and equality in terms of being from the children of Ādam, has been established in the text of the Qur’ān; while, in the perfections of proximity, nobody has called him a brother or believes him to be equal [with others].” (al-Barāhīn al-Qāṭi‘ah, Dārul Ishā‘at, p. 7)

Muḥammad ‘Umar Icharvī: The Prophet is a Light that Came in Human Garb

According to this popular Barelwī belief, articulated by some of their leading scholars, the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) was not a human being in reality, but only appeared as one outwardly. Muḥammad ‘Umar Icharvī (1901 – 1971), a prominent Barelwī scholar, debater and writer, said: “It is established from this noble verse that the reality of the Chosen One (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) was not of human nature, but his reality was of light.” (Miqyās e Nūr, Makabah Sulṭāniyyah, p. 24)

Muḥammad ‘Umar Icharvī further says: “The Chosen One (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) was really light, and the divine power sent him into the world through the intermediary of parents by giving the light a human and luminous form. The Muḥammadan reality of light overpowered his blessed body. Thus, from amongst the creatures made of light, angels were also of light. However, when Ḥaḍrat Jibrīl Amīn (upon him peace) appeared, dressed in a human body, his human body overpowered his luminuous nature, such that in this specific bodily form he could not fly to the furthest lote tree, and in fact he could not go to the first heaven. But the true light of the Chosen One (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) overpowered his human body, which together with the bodily and luminous nature traversed all the heavens.” (ibid. 26-7)

While justifying his belief vis a vis the Prophet’s clearly human features, ‘Umar Icharvī says: “Jibrīl too came in the form of a human being, and he too came adorned with human features like hands, feet, nose, ears…If Jibrīl (upon him peace) coming in human garb and hands, feet and so on appearing on him do not cause any difference to him being a light, then the Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace)’s pure hand and pure feet being apparent does not necessitate any difference to him being a [physical] light.” (Miqyās e Ḥanafiyyat, p. 242-3)

Icharvī even goes as far as to analogise the Prophet in this respect to Allāh! He says: “Just as it is necessary to adopt īmān in hands that are without equal, a shin without equal and a face without equal for the pure and free essence of Allāh (Exalted is He), you have been prohibited from drawing any likeness with the pure limbs of the embodied light of the Noble Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) and have to adopt īmān [in this]. Allāh (Exalted is He) is without comparison in His essence and characteristics and He created His beloved (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) from pure light, so he manifested his essence together with his characteristics without any equal.” (ibid. p. 243)

Analogies of this kind between the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) and Allāh when making such points are not uncommon in Barelwī literature.

Aḥmad Yār Khān Na‘īmī: The Prophet is not from Jinn, Man or Angels

Aḥmad Yār Khān Na‘īmī (1906 – 1971), another very well-known and accepted Barelwī scholar (and student of famous Barelwī scholar Na‘īmuddīn Murādābādī), says: “The Prophet appears from the species of man and is a human [but] is neither jinn, man nor angel. These are material laws. Otherwise, being a human being started at Ādam (upon him peace) since he is the father of man, while Ḥuḍūr (upon him peace) was a prophet at the very time that Ādam was between water and clay. He himself said: ‘I was a prophet while Ādam was between water and clay.’ At this time Ḥuḍūr was a prophet not a human being.” (Jā’ al-Ḥaqq, Na‘īmī Kutub Khānah, p.173)

Note: He is arguing from this ḥadīth that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) existed in his true form before Ādam (‘alayhissalām) was created. But the correct meaning of this ḥadīth (the correct wording of which is, “I was a Prophet while Ādam was between spirit and body”) is, as explained by al-Ṭaḥāwī, that Allāh had sent a written decree confirming his prophethood at this time. (Sharḥ Mushkil al-Athār, Mu’assasat al-Risālah, 15:234)

Aḥmad Yār Khān Na‘īmī: The Prophet Said he is a “Human Like You” just as a Hunter Imitates his Prey!

Aḥmad Yār Khān Na‘īmī says about the verse of Qur’ān: “Say: I am only a man like you” (18:110): “The address in this verse is towards the Kuffār. Since each thing repels a foreign species, therefore it was said: ‘O Kuffār, don’t fear me, I am from your species, I am a human being.’ A hunter produces the sound of animals to hunt. The aim of this is to draw the Kuffār towards him. If Deobandīs are also from the Kuffār, this address may also be towards them.” (Jā’ al-Ḥaqq, p.176)

Here, Aḥmad Yār Khān Na‘īmī compares the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) to a hunter pretending to be something he is not so as to catch prey! Is this not disrespect? Is this not accusing the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) – na‘ūdhu billāh – of deception?

His point is all the more flawed from the perspective that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, “I am a man like you” (innamā ana basharun mithlukum) to the ṣaḥābah – the most elite of Muslims. According to the Muwaṭṭa’ of Imām Mālik in the transmission of Abū Muṣ‘ab al-Zuhrī (Mu’assasat al-Risālah, no. 2877), Umm Salamah (raḍiyallāhu ‘anhā) narrated from the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) that he said: “I am only a human being like you. Indeed, you argue before me and one of you may be more expressive in his argumentation than the other, so I will decree in his favour according to what I hear from him…”

Ibn Mas‘ūd (raḍiyallāhu ‘anhu) transmitted from the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) that he said: “I am a man like you, I forget like you forget.” (Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, Maktabat al-Bushrā, no. 1282) Ṭalḥah ibn ‘Ubaydillāh (raḍiyallāhu ‘anhu) transmitted from the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) that he said: “I am a man like you, and [my] speculation may be incorrect or correct.” (Sunan Ibn Mājah, Dār al-Risālat al-‘Alamiyyah, no. 2470)

In all of these instances, the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said “I am a man like you” to his believing companions.

Na‘īmī’s take on the verse is thus an example of tafsīr bi ‘l-ra’y (misinterpreting the Qur’ān based on personal judgement), an activity strongly condemned in ḥadīth, and something that betrays the falseness of Barelwī claims to orthodoxy and adhering to tradition.

Aḥmad Yār Khān Na‘īmī: “Say: I am a Man Like You” is from the Mutashābihāt!

Aḥmad Yār Khān Na‘īmī further says: “Just as ‘Allāh’s hand is above their hands’ or ‘the likeness of His light is like a niche…’ and other verses which are found to apparently be against divine nature and are from the mutashābihāt (unclear verses), in the same way innamā ana basharun mithlukum and other verses which are apparently against the status of the Chosen One are from the mutashābihāt. Thus, to adhere to their outward as evidence is wrong.” (Jā’ al-Ḥaqq, p. 178)

This is a further example of Barelwī literature drawing a false analogy between the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) and Allāh.

Muḥammad ‘Abd al-Rashīd Rizvī: The Prophet was Light that Appeared in Human Garb

Barelwī, Muḥammad ‘Abd al-Rashīd Rizvī, says: “Ḥuḍūr Raḥmatun lil ‘Ālamīn was in reality and in origin light. For the guidance of human beings, to present an example worthy of imitation before people, his light was made to appear in the form of a human being. When the light was made to appear in human garb, he remains a light despite being affected by human attributes, and his reality and origin is not negated. Several accounts of such are found in Qur’ān and Ḥadīth. Thus in a pure ḥadīth it is narrated that the angel of death came to Mūsā (upon him peace) so Mūsā struck the eye of the angel and gouged it out. Jibrīl Amīn is light yet to grant Sayyidah Maryam (Allāh be pleased with her) a child he came in the garb of a human being. Despite this, he remained a light.” (Rushd al-Īmān, Maktabah Rushd al-Īmān, p. 45)

Conclusion

In correct Islāmic/Sunnī belief the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) is from the species of man and did not just appear as a man. In the Barelwī belief described above, the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) is only a man in as much as Jibrīl (‘alayhissalām) was “a man” i.e. in mere appearance, not in reality. This belief amounts to denying the reality of the Prophet’s humanity, and is thus disbelief and diminishment of the lofty status of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). (Aḥsan al-Fatāwā, 1:57)

Will Barelwīs who pretend to be neutral, objective Sunnīs (like the liar Asrar Rashid) denounce this unIslāmic, repugnant and blasphemous belief?

What this example (and others like it) illustrate is that Deobandī ‘Ulamā’ were true defenders of the correct, orthodox Islāmic creed, while Barelwīs were innovators and distorters of Sunnī belief. Barelwīs are the ones who in truth are guilty of heresy while they casually and unjustifiably throw around accusations of heresy at those undeserving of it. It may even be that their deviance is a punishment for their unfounded attacks of righteous ‘Ulamā’ and Awliyā’.

 


Ghāyat al-Ma’mūl: The Scholars of Madīnah Refute Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s Views on ‘Ilm al-Ghayb

January 19, 2019

Ghāyat al-Ma’mūl is a work that was written by Shaykh Sayyid Aḥmad al-Barzanjī (d. 1919), one of the greatest scholars of Madīnah of that era, and its Shāfi‘ī Muftī. It was written in refutation of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s view that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) was given complete and exhaustive knowledge of creation from the beginning of creation till the end of the world and beyond.

One can find the most recent edition of the work, published by Shirkah Dār al-Mashārī‘, at the following link:

https://barelwism.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/ghayat-al-mamul-sayyid-ahmad-barzanji.pdf

Barelwīs will point out that Sayyid Aḥmad al-Barzanjī was a signatory of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn – which is true.* But the reality of his signature was described by Shaykh al-Islām Mawlānā Sayyid Ḥusayn Aḥmad Madanī (1879 – 1957) (who was at that time residing in Madīnah) in his al-Shihāb al-Thāqib. He explains that Sayyid Aḥmad Barzanjī initially felt that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān was reliable and a person of learning. Based on this good opinion, he signed his treatise, and even encouraged others to do so. However, when he had his final meeting with him in the house of Sayyid ‘Abdullāh Madanī, and they discussed the issue of ‘ilm al-ghayb, he realised the academic and ideological reality of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān and began to regret his previous actions. At this time, he took back his commendation and demanded his seal be removed, and told them that he has come to realise that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān is a person of misguidance and thus spoke very harshly about him.

Muftī Aḥmad Barzanjī himself told Mawlānā Madanī afterwards that on the following day, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s son came to him, kissed his feet and hands, and begged him to keep the seal on the commendation, saying: “Do not take back the endorsement because we have no disagreement on these issues, and while we disagree on the issue of ‘ilm al-ghayb, let that remain as it is.” He also showed extreme flattery in speech and conduct. Muftī Aḥmad Barzanjī used some harsh words, but feeling embarrassed at his pleading, said it will be fine to keep the seal. However, he also pointed out that the seal is of no benefit to them given that his endorsement was conditional. A number of other ‘Ulamā’ from the Ḥaramayn also made their endorsements conditional. (Mawlānā Madanī quotes some of these on page 215-6 of al-Shihāb al-Thāqib.) Mawlānā Madanī notes that even those ‘Ulamā’ who did not put conditions, it is obvious that their endorsements were premised on the information in the treatise being correct.

Sayyid Aḥmad Barzanjī, soon after the last meeting with Aḥmad Riḍā Khān, began to pen a detailed refutation of the latter’s views on the knowledge of ghayb given to the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). In al-Shihāb al-Thāqib, Mawlānā Madanī said the treatise is in the process of being published. (It was eventually published as Ghāyat al-Ma’mūl.) In this treatise, Sayyid Barzanjī, and by extension those who approved of it, used harsh words against Aḥmad Riḍā Khān. The positive words that were said of him by some of the scholars, either out of good character or because of not being fully aware of his true character, must be weighed against the negative words used by Sayyid Barzanjī. (see for this account: al-Shihāb al-Thāqib, p. 210-1)

In Ghāyat al-Ma’mūl, Sayyid Barzanjī refers to Aḥmad Riḍā Khān as follows:

ثم بعد ذلك  ورد إلى المدينة المنورة رجل من علماء الهند يدعى أحمد رضا خان

“Then after that a man from the ‘Ulamā’ of India arrived at Madīna Munawwara called Aḥmad Riḍā Khān…” (Ghāyat al-Ma’mūl, p. 9)

Note, he does not use any honorifics or words of praise to describe Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī. Similarly, he says afterwards:

ثم بعد ذلك أطلعني أحمد رضا خان المذكور على رسالة له

“Then after that the aforementioned Aḥmad Riḍā Khān made me aware of a treatise of his…” (ibid. p. 10)

He mentions that he explained to Aḥmad Riḍā Khān why his views are unacceptable but he “persisted and was obstinate” (aṣarra wa ‘ānada) (ibid. p. 11)

He further says:

زعم هذا غلطا وجرأة على تفسير كتاب الله بغير دليل

“[Aḥmad Riḍā Khān] made this claim erroneously and being daring in interpreting the Book of Allāh without evidence.” (ibid)

Here he finds Aḥmad Riḍā Khān guilty of tafsīr bi ‘l-ra’y which is severely condemned in ḥadīth.

Then he goes into detail in refuting Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s view. He refers to his view as “a grave error” (khaṭa’ ‘aẓīm) (ibid. p. 14) and as being “rejected” (mardūd) (ibid. p. 57)

Ghāyat al-Ma’mūl was endorsed by several leading scholars of Madīnah including Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qādir ibn Tawfīq al-Shalabī (1878 – 1950), the imām of the Ḥanafīs in Madīnah, and Shaykh Tāj al-Dīn ibn Ilyās al-Ḥanafī, the Ḥanafī Muftī of Madīnah. This is clear evidence that it is not only the Ahl al-Sunnah of the Deobandī school/orientation that refuted Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s heretical views, but the Ahl al-Sunnah of Madīnah had also done so.

One of the great imāms of the subcontinent from the Firangī Maḥall school (non-Deobandī), ‘Allāmah ‘Ayn al-Quḍāt al-Ḥaydarābādī al-Lakhnawī al-Ḥanafī (1858 – 1924) – a foremost student of ‘Allāmah ‘Abd al-Ḥayy al-Lakhnawī – also wrote a refutation of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s view in a work called Ibrāz al-Maknūn fī Mabḥath al-‘Ilm bi Ma Kāna wa Mā Yakūn.

Sayyid Aḥmad Barzanji also endorsed al-Muhannad in a treatise called Kamāl al-Tathqīf, which was written in response to ‘Allāmah Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī’s request to review al-Muhannad. In Kamāl al-Tathqīf, he refers to ‘Allamah Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri as “al-‘Allāmah al-Fāḍil” (the virtuous erudite scholar) and “al-Muḥaqqiq al-Kāmil” (the accomplished research-scholar) and “one of the well-known ‘Ulamā’ of India”. (al-Muhannad, Dār al-Fatḥ, p. 122) Clearly, he did not believe ‘Allamah Khalil Ahmad Sahāranpūrī, one of the four elders of Deoband that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān targeted with his takfīr campaign, to be a disbeliever.

His general endorsement of al-Muhannad in Kamāl al-Tathqīf (ibid. p. 124) shows he agreed that the allegations against Mawlānā Gangohī, Mawlānā Nānotwī, Mawlānā Sahāranpūrī and Mawlānā Thānawī are false and he did not agree with the takfīr. Al-Muhannad clarifies that the fatwā attributed to Mawlānā Gangohī which was the basis of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s takfīr is spurious and fabricated, and opposes what he has clearly articulated in his published fatwās; that Mawlānā Nānotwī in Taḥdhīr al-Nās did not deny the finality of prophethood but merely elaborated upon and expanded the meaning of the title “Khātam al-Nabiyyīn”; that Mawlānā Sahāranpūrī in al-Barāhīn al-Qāṭi‘ah did not make a blanket judgement of Satan’s knowledge being more expansive than the Prophet’s but was referring to lowly, insignificant knowledge of worldly matters; and that Mawlānā Thānawī in Ḥifẓ al-Īmān did not compare prophetic knowledge to that of laymen, madmen and animals, but only affirmed partial knowledge of ghayb for laymen, madmen and animals and thus concluded that if someone insists on calling another “‘Ālim al-Ghayb” based on partial knowledge of ghayb this would not be exclusive to the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). (see: al-Muhannad, p. 67-8; 71-3; 74-7; 84-6)

In Kamāl al-Tathqīf, Sayyid Barzanjī also supports the Deobandī/Sunnī position (as opposed to the Barelwī position) on the expanse of Allah’s power as it relates to issuing a statement that is not true. See: https://barelwism.wordpress.com/2018/12/31/imkan-al-kidhb-and-the-arab-scholars/

* However, most of the content of his attestation is known only on Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s authority, who is not reliable. There is proof he meddled with at least one of the attestations. See: https://zakariyya.wordpress.com/2007/04/02/molwi-ahmed-radha-khan-among-the-arab-ulama/

 

 

 


Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s Allegations: Deliberate Slanders or Innocent Misunderstandings? – A Conversation between Ḥakīm al-Ummat Thānawī and Mawlānā Manẓūr Nu‘mānī

January 14, 2019

Once while Mawlānā Manẓur Nu‘mānī was in the company of Ḥakīm al-Ummat Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī, the latter asked him: “You are well-read on Mawlawī Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Ṣāḥib’s books. What is your opinion – that which he has written about us and our Akābir, did he really misunderstand and understand it in that way, or did he knowingly make these false allegations?”

He further said: “I don’t understand how a person who has even a little īmān and fear of God can knowingly make such false allegations?

Mawlānā Manẓur Nu‘mānī replied: “Ḥaḍrat, Allāh Ta’ālā knows the reality, but having read his books I reached the conclusion that he is not an ignoramus, he was very knowledgeable. Nor was he short of understanding or stupid, he was very smart and intelligent. So my heart can never accept that he misunderstood. If it was some stupid person or ignoramus, there might have been room for such speculation. My feeling is his mentality and attitude was just as the Qur’ān Majīd describes the scholars of Banū Isrā’īl.

Ḥakīm al-Ummat said: “I would entertain the doubt that he misunderstood.”

After reporting this conversation, Mawlānā Manẓūr Nu‘mānī comments: “Had Ḥaḍrat (Allāh have mercy on him) seen his books, he would most probably not have entertained such a doubt.”

(Barelwī Fitnah Kā Nayā Rūp, p. 15-6)