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

December 17, 2019

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

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

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

Shāh Ismā‘īl says in one place:

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

He also says:

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

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

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

وما يؤمن أكثرهم بالله إلا وهم مشركون

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

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

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

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

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

He says in another place:

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

Thus, He states in Sūrah Maryam:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rather, the meaning is to make another besides Allāh a partner with Him (Exalted is He) in divinity (ulūhiyyah) or lordship (rubūbiyyah). The meaning of “divinity” is to believe in respect to him that he has reached such a degree in qualities of perfection like encompassing knowledge, control by mere power and will, that he is beyond comparison and similarity with the rest of creation; which is by believing that nothing occurs…but that it is impossible for it to be hidden from his knowledge and he is witness to it; or believing that he controls things by force, meaning his control is not part of the means [Allāh has put in creation] but he has control over the means. The meaning of “lordship” is that he has reached such a degree in referring needs [to him], asking for solutions to problems and asking for the removal of tribulations by his mere will and power over the means that he deserves utmost servility and humbleness. That is, there is no limit to the extent of servility and humbleness shown to him, and there is no servility or humbleness but it is good in respect to him, and he is deserving of it… (Radd al-Ishrāk, p15-6)

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

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

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

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

If these two points are kept in mind:

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

My God:

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

O Lord:

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

To proceed:

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

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

The Words of Allāh and His Messenger are for Everybody

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

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

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

ولقد أنزلنا إليك آيات بينات وما يكفر بها إلا الفسقون

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two Components to Īmān

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Chapter One: On the Explanation of Tawḥīd and Shirk

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

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

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

وما يؤمن أكثرهم بالله إلا وهم مشركون

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Allāh Ṣāḥib says in Sūrah Zumar:

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

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

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

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

Allāh Ṣāḥib says in Sūrah Mu’minūn:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[4] An independent protector, apart from Allāh.

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



Shah Isma’il & the Belief in Shafa’ah

January 4, 2014

In his classic and conclusive defence of the Ash’ari school, Tabyin Kadhib al-Muftari, the Imam and Hafiz, Ibn ‘Asakir (rahimahullah) (d. 571 H), quotes Imam al-Juwayni’s praise of the excellent belief of Imam al-Ash’ari. Al-Juwayni lists those beliefs in which Imam Abu l-Hasan al-Ash’ari adopted a via media between the extreme positions of deviants on opposite ends of the spectrum. At one point, he says:

وكذلك قالت الرافضة أن للرسول صلوات الله عليه وسلامه ولعلي عليه السلام شفاعة من غير أمر الله تعالى ولا إذنه حتى لو شفعا فى الكفار قبلت وقالت المعتزلة لا شفاعة له بحال، فسلك رضي الله عنه طريقة بينهما فقال بأن للرسول صلوات الله عليه وسلامه شفاعة مقبولة فى المؤمنين المستحقين للعقوبة، يشفع لهم بأمر الله تعالى وإذنه ولا يشفع إلا لمن ارتضى

“Likewise, the Rafidah say that the Messenger (upon him blessings and peace) and ‘Ali (upon him peace) are entitled to an intercession without the command of Allah (Exalted is He), nor His permission, such that if they were to intercede for the disbelievers, it would be accepted! And the Mu’tazilah say there is no intercession at all. Thus, he (Abu l-Hasan al-Ash’ari) adopted a path between the two, and he said: The Messenger (upon him blessings of Allah and His peace) will have an intercession that is accepted with respect to the believers who are deserving of punishment. He will intercede for them by the command of Allah (Exalted is He) and His permission, and He will not intercede except for one He approves.” (Tabyin Kadhib al-Muftari, al-Maktabat al-Azhariyyah, 120-1)

This is the simple belief which no one truly from Ahlus Sunnah can contest or deny. The belief of the Rafidah is clear shirk, and the belief of the Mu’tazilah is clear denial of mutawatir reports. This is also the belief of Shah Isma’il Shaheed, for which the innovators (ahl al-bid’ah) of India accused him of denying shafa’ah! This is a clear illustration of where the innovators have much in common with the Rafidah, and hold beliefs that are shirk or border on shirk.

Here is an answer that was written sometime back to Gibril Haddad who attempted to support this false Barelwi accusation that Shah Isma’il Shaheed denied shafa’ah:

The final accusation made against Shah Isma’ill which Mawlana Nu’mani discusses is that he denied intercession (shafa’ah) (pp. 82-102) and Gibril Haddad regurgitates this claim in his review. Naim al-Din al-Muradabadi claimed in his Atyab al-Bayan that Shah Isma’il’s denial of intercession was more severe than the denial of the Mu’tazilis as they accept intercession for the elevation of ranks in paradise but not for the pardoning of sins, whereas Shah Isma’il denied intercession altogether. The reality, however, is that Shah Isma’il did not deny intercession in its true form but rejected those types of intercession that are inadmissible for Allah.

In the third section (fasl) “ishtirak fi al-tasarruf” he elaborates on the issue of intercession. For an accurate translation of the section in question, see Mir Shahamat’s translation here from pages 338-41.

Shah Ismai’il first quotes some verses of Sura Saba’ which includes the verse, “No intercession can avail in His Presence, except for those for whom He has granted permission.” (34:23)

He then goes on to describe three types of intercession or commendation (safarish) that are known and practiced, and he says the first two are inadmissible for Allah while the third is what is meant by intercession when it appears in Qur’an and hadith:

The first is “intercession by status” (shafa‘at al-wajaha) where the king desires to punish a criminal but because a high-ranking officer interceded on his behalf, fearing the loss of such a valuable officer, the king suppresses his desire to punish the criminal and pardons him.

A second type he discusses is “intercession from affection” (shafa’at al-mahabba) where the king suppresses his desire to punish because of his love for the one who interceded on behalf of the criminal like his wife, son etc.

The third and final type of intercession is that the criminal is deserving of forgiveness because although he committed a crime it was uncommon for him and he was truly repentant and remorseful, and seeing the desire of the king to forgive, a minister comes forward with the king’s approval to intercede on his behalf and seemingly because of his intercession, he pardons him. This is “intercession with permission” (shafaa bi l-idhn).

The first two are impossible with respect to Allah because Allah can never be forced or pressured into acting against His will or His desire because of affection or fear of losing a high-ranking servant, as ultimately all before Him are servants while He is the King of Kings with no need. The Qur’an says “O men! You are they who stand in need of Allah, and Allah is He Who is the Self-sufficient, the Praised One. If He wills, He can be rid of you and bring [instead of you] a new creation, and that is not a hard thing for Allah.” (35:15-7)

The third type is the type of intercession which will occur in the afterlife. Shah Isma’il explicitly mentioned that this is what is meant by the intercession mentioned in verses of the Qur’an and hadiths.

Mawlana Nu’mani after quoting the passage from Taqwiyat al-Iman, comments that no Muslim can deny that what Shah Isma’il said is undeniably true as Allah is completely independent of all creation (ghani) and in absolutely no need of them (samad). It is clear from the passage of Taqwiyat al-Iman that Shah Ismail only denies the first two types of intercession which no Muslim can possibly support, while he accepts the last type.

Mawlana Nu’mani says: wherever in the Qur’an intercession is mentioned in the affirmative, it always qualifies this with the condition “with permission” (bi al-idhn), the very type that Shah Ismail shows to be the only type of intercession possible with respect to Allah. It is also clear from the hadiths that without permission not even the closest servant can come forward to Allah to intercede for anyone. Mawlana Nu’mani then goes on to offer proofs from the Qur’an, its commentaries, and the hadiths and their commentaries, some of which are provided below:

Allah says: “Who is he that intercedes in His presence except with His permission?” (2:255) Al-Nasafi says in its commentary: “It is not [possible] for anyone to intercede in His presence except with His permission, and this is a demonstration of His sovereignty and His greatness, and that no one has the ability to speak on the Day of Resurrection except when He gives him permission to speak.”

ليس لأحد أن يشفع عنده إلا بإذنه وهو بيان لملكوته وكبريائه، وأن أحداً لا يتمالك أن يتكلم يوم القيامة إلا إذا أذن له في الكلام

Allah says: “There is no intercessor except after His permission” (10:3) Al-Baghawi says: “Its meaning is that the intercessors will not intercede except after His permission.”

معناه: أن الشفعاء لا يشفعون إلا بإذنه

Khazin says: “Meaning, no intercessor will intercede in His presence on the Day of Resurrection except after He gives permission to him to intercede.”

لا يشفع عنده شافع يوم القيامة إلا من بعد أن يأذن له في الشفاعة

Alusi says in his tafsir of this verse: “I.e. there is no intercessor interceding on behalf of another in any one time except after His (Almighty) permission based on [His] manifest wisdom, and that is when the intercessor is from the chosen [servants] and the one interceded for is deserving of intercession.”

أي ما من شفيع يشفع لأحد في وقت من الأوقات إلا بعد إذنه تعالى المبني على الحكمة الباهرة وذلك عند كون الشفيع من المصطفين الأخيار والمشفوع له ممن يليق بالشفاعة

Allah says: “On that day shall no intercession avail except of him whom the Beneficent allows and whose word He is pleased with.” (20:109) Nasafi: “I.e. the intercession will avail none except the intercession of the one the Beneficent allows i.e. the intercessor He allows to intercede.”

أي لا تنفع الشفاعة إلا شفاعة من أذن له الرحمن أي أذن للشافع في الشفاعة

Alusi says there are two possible interpretations of the one who the Beneficient “allows,” either the intercessor or the one interceded for. On the second possibility he writes: “The sum meaning of this is intercession will avail none except one who the Beneficent allows to be interceded for while he was a believer.”

وحاصل المعنى عليه لا تنفع الشفاعة أحداً إلا من أذن الرحمن في أن يشفع له وكان مؤمناً

Allah says: “Say: Unto Allah belongs all intercession” (39:44) Alusi says: “The meaning is that Allah is possessor of all intercession. No one can intercede unless the one interceded for is approved [by Allah] and the intercessor is allowed [by Allah to intercede].”

والمعنى أنه تعالى مالك الشفاعة كلها لا يستطيع أحد شفاعة ما إلا أن يكون المشفوع [له] مرتضى والشفيع مأذوناً له

Khazin says: “None intercedes on behalf of another except by His permission so busying oneself with His worship is worthier, because in reality He is the Intercessor and He allows intercession from whoever of His servants He wishes.”

أي لا يشفع أحد إلا بإذنه فكان الاشتغال بعبادته أولى لأنه هو الشفيع في الحقيقة وهو يأذن في الشفاعة لمن يشاء من عباده

Mawlana Nu’mani comments: This is precisely what Shah Isma’il said in the section of Taqwiyat al-Iman in question.

He then quotes the hadith of intercession from Bukhari which shows the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) only interecedes with Allah’s permission and he mentions specifically in this hadith: “He places boundaries for me [i.e. for my intercession]” under which al-‘Asqalani said quoting from al-Tibi: “He shows to me in every stage of the intercession a boundary I must stay within and not trespass e.g. He says: I allow you intercession for those who were deficient in congregational [prayer], and then those who were deficient in prayer, and then those who drank wine, and then those who committed adultery, and in this fashion.”

قَوْلُهُ فَيَحُدُّ لِي حَدًّا يُبَيِّنُ لِي فِي كُلِّ طَوْرٍ مِنْ أَطْوَارِ الشَّفَاعَةِ حَدًّا أَقِفُ عِنْدَهُ فَلَا أَتَعَدَّاهُ مِثْلَ أَنْ يَقُولَ شَفَّعْتُكَ فِيمَنْ أَخَلَّ بِالْجَمَاعَةِ ثُمَّ فِيمَنْ أَخَلَّ بِالصَّلَاةِ ثُمَّ فِيمَنْ شَرِبَ الْخَمْرَ ثُمَّ فِيمَنْ زَنَى وَعَلَى هَذَا الْأُسْلُوبِ كَذَا حَكَاهُ الطِّيبِيُّ

G.F. Haddad and Hazir Nazir

January 30, 2013

GF Haddad wrote this article several years ago on the “Omnipresence of the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam,” in which he attempts to prove the Barelwi doctrine of “Hazir Nazir.” http://sunnah.org/aqida/haadir_wa_naadir.htm A brother asked me to reply to GF Haddad’s “proofs,” as the belief that the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) is omnipresent (i.e. present in all places) is a belief that opposes the clear verses of the Qur’an, statements of the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) and the established beliefs of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa l-Jama‘ah.It should be remembered, firstly, that GF Haddad is unreliable in his unsupported claims and assertions (of which there are many). See for example here. Secondly, it should be understood that the mark of the people of innovation (ahl al-bid‘ah) is that they rely on ambiguous evidences (mutashabihat) instead of clear evidences (wadihat). So you will see them relying on some farfetched interpretations of verses, coupled irresponsibly with statements of some scholars and isolated hadiths taken out of context, and so on. Imam al-Shatibi discusses this characteristic of the people of innovation in-depth in the fourth chapter of his brilliant work, al-I’tisam. Towards the end of this chapter he says: “Likewise, it is possible for every person who follows the ambiguous evidences or distorts the applications [of the evidences] or interprets verses in a way they were not understood by the pious Salaf or holds fast to weak hadiths or takes evidences on face value to draw support for every action, statement or belief that agrees with his objective from a verse or hadith that did not intend that at all. The proof for this is that every sect that has become famous for its heresy (bid‘ah) draws support from verses or hadiths.” (al-I’tisam, 2:125)
The belief that the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) is omnipresent, meaning present and seeing in every place, is an innovated belief that is in violation of the clear evidences of the Shari’ah. In the following reply to his evidences, Haddad’s comments are highlighted in red. GF Haddad said:
Ibn Khafif al-Shirazi said in his al-‘Aqida al-Sahiha (§48):
[The Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, ] is knower of what is and what shall be and he gave news of the Unseen (wa [ya‘taqidu] annahu al-‘âlimu bimâ kâna wa mâ yakûnu wa akhbara ‘an ‘ilmi al-ghayb).

Al-Baghawi relates in his Tafsir (under verse 55:3-4) from the eminent Tabi’i, Tawus ibn Kaysan (d. 106), that he said: “He (Allah) created man, meaning Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace), and taught him the description, meaning the description of what was and what will be, as he would describe [accounts of] the earlier peoples and the later peoples and the Day of Recompense.”

وقال ابن كيسان: { خَلَقَ ٱلإِنسَـٰنَ } يعني: محمداً صلى الله عليه وسلم { عَلَّمَهُ ٱلبَيَانَ } يعني: بيان ما كان وما يكون لأنه كان يبين عن الأولين والآخرين وعن يوم الدين

Thus, it is clear that what is meant by this usage with respect to the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) is the knowledge he brought of the earlier people, the later peoples and of eschatology. Such knowledge is also found in the Qur’an, which is why, for example, Ibn Kathir says about the Qur’an: “Indeed the Qur’an contains every beneficial science, of the description of what came before and knowledge of what is to come…”

إن القرآن اشتمل على كل علم نافع؛ من خبر ما سبق، وعلم ما سيأتي

The “knowledge of what was and what will be” when used with respect to the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) and the Qur’an, therefore, refers to the limited knowledge of the past and future documented in the Qur’an and hadith. They do not mean all-encompassing knowledge.

However, when it is used with respect to Allah, this phrase means all-encompassing knowledge.

Strangely, it appears GF Haddad concedes this:

Meaning, in the sense of being imparted by Allah whatever He imparted to him. Our teacher the Faqîh Shaykh Adib Kallas said: “Note that Ibn Khafif did not say ‘He knows all that is and all that shall be.’”

But Ahmad Rida Khan, who it seems Haddad is defending in this article, said exactly this in al-Dawlat al-Makkiyyah and other works: that the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) was given knowledge of literally “all that was and will be” (جميع ما كان وما يكون). Does Haddad therefore accept that he was wrong?

But, apparently going back on this caveat to Ibn Khafif’s statement, Haddad then quotes his teacher saying:

“The Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, possesses knowledge of all that is and knows the created universes in the same way that one knows a room in which one sits. Nothing is hidden from him.”

As proof he says:

There are two verses of the Holy Qur’an that affirm this, [But how (will it be with them) when we bring of every people a witness, and We bring you (O Muhammad) a witness against these](4:41) and [Thus We have ap¬pointed you a middle nation, that you may be witnesses against man¬kind and that the messenger may be a witness against you] (2:143) nor can the Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, be called to witness over what he does not know nor seeThe above evidence is confirmed by the authentic Prophetic narration from Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri in the Sahih, Sunan, and Masanid:The Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, said: “Nuh and his Community shall come <also: ‘shall be brought’> and Allah Most High shall say: ‘Did you convey [My Mes¬sage]?’ He shall say, ‘Yes, indeed! my Lord.’ Then He shall ask his Com¬munity, ‘Did he convey [My Message] to you?’ and they shall say, ‘No, no Prophet came to us.’ Then Allah shall ask Nuh, ‘Who is your witness?’ and he shall reply, ‘Muhammad, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, and his Community.’ Then we shall bear witness that he conveyed [the Message] indeed, and this is [the meaning of] His saying, [Thus We have ap¬pointed you a middle nation (ummatan wasatan), that you may be witnesses against man¬kind] (2:143), al-wasat meaning ‘the upright’ (al-‘adl).”[2]Ibn Hajar in his commentary of the above narration in Fath al-Bari said that another same-chained, similar narration in Ahmad and Ibn Majah shows that such witnessing applies to all the Communities and not just that of Nuh,`alayhis salaam:The Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, said: “One Prophet shall come on the Day of Resurrection with a single man [as his Community]; another Prophet shall come with two men; others, with more. The nation of each Prophet shall be summoned and asked, ‘Did this Prophet convey [the Message] to you?’ They shall reply, no. Then he shall be asked, ‘Did you convey [the Message] to your people?’ and he shall reply, yes. Then he shall be asked, ‘Who is your witness?’ and he shall reply, ‘Muhammad and his Com¬munity.’ Whereupon Muhammad and his Community shall be sum¬moned and asked, ‘Did this man convey [the Message] to his people?’ They shall reply, yes. They shall be asked, ‘How do you know?’ They shall reply, ‘Our Prophet came to us and told us that the Messengers have indeed conveyed [the Message].’ This is [the meaning of] His say¬ing, [Thus We have appointed you a middle nation] – He means upright (yaqûlu ‘adlan) – [that you may be witnesses against man¬kind and that the messenger may be a witness against you] (2:143).”

In short, he is using description of the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) in the Qur’an as a “witness” as proof that the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) knew and saw all that is and was. This, however, ignores the explanation of “witness” in the recognised Tafsirs and from the explanations of the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) himself.

According to the Tafsirs, there are two possible meanings of “witness” when used in these verses (4:41, 2:143 and others), as Ibn al-Jawzi mentions in Zad al-Masir (although, he divides them into four):

1. He bears witness that he conveyed the message based on his knowledge of himself, and he witnesses that the earlier prophets conveyed the message based on the knowledge he received from revelation. This interpretation is consistent with other verses of the Qur’an (7:6, 28:85 and others) which show the Prophet will bear witness that he conveyed the message. This ummah will bear witness that the previous prophets conveyed the message, and it is clear this “witnessing” is not by means of having seen Nuh (‘alayhissalam) and the other Prophets, but by the knowledge this ummah has received from revelation. The narration above, which Haddad quotes, clearly states this is the kind of “witnessing” that is meant. If this interpretation is taken, it cannot possibly be used to mean that the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) is omnipresent.

2. A second interpretation is that he witnesses over his ummah in terms of their acceptance or rejection of him. However, this meaning is applicable only for as long as he lived amongst them (i.e. only for the Sahabah and the disbelievers of his time), but when he passed away this type of “witnessing” ended, as explicitly mentioned by the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) himself in the explanation of this verse:

In the commentary of 4:41, al-Tabari narrates with a sound chain from the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) that he said after this verse was recited to him by ‘Abd Allah ibn Mas’ud, quoting the statement of ‘Isa (‘alayhissalam):

شهيدا ما دمت فيهم فلما توفيتني كنت أنت الرقيب عليهم وأنت على كل شيء شهيد

“I was a witness over them for as long as I was among them, and when You took me (i.e. when I passed away), You was the Watcher over them. You are Witness over all things.” (Qur’an 5:117)

[Chain: ‘Abd Allah ibn Muhammad al-Zuhri, thiqah acc. to Abu Hatim and al-Nasa’i – Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah, undisputed hadith master – ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Utbah al-Mas’udi, thiqah acc. to many hadith critics – Ja’far ibn ‘Amr ibn Hurayth, a narrator in Sahih Muslim, declared thiqah by al-Dhahabi – Sahabi, ‘Amr ibn Hurayth]

This narration is also found in Sahih Muslim.

A narration found in Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim mention that the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) in fact repeats this statement of ‘Isa (‘alayhissalam) on the plains of Resurrection when he is told that he has no knowledge of what some people from his ummah innovated after him.

This is, therefore, clear proof from the words of the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) himself in authentic hadiths that if we take the meaning of witnessing the response of his ummah from the characteristic of “witness” it only applies to his companions, those with whom he directly interacted, and it does not extend beyond them.

In explaining verse 4:41, al-Razi said:

واستشهدك على هؤلاء يعني قومه المخاطبين بالقرآن الذين شاهدهم وعرف أحوالهم ثم إن أهل كل عصر يشهدون على غيرهم ممن شاهدوا أحوالهم وعلى هذا الوجه قال عيسى عليه السلام: وكنت عليهم شهيدا ما دمت فيهم

“Allah will make you [the Prophet] witness over these, meaning his people that were addressed by the Qur’an who he saw and knew of their conditions. Furthermore, the people of every age will bear witness over other than them from those whose conditions they saw. Based on this, ‘Isa, peace be upon him, said: I was a witness over them for as long as I was among them.'”

Al-Qurtubi says of this verse that the intent is that he will be witness over the Kuffar of Quraysh. Then he said “it was said: the demonstrative noun is for the whole ummah,” but he alludes to this being a weak view by using the phrase “it was said.” Also he presented as proof of this view a narration that is clearly weak (as there is a majhul narrator in the chain, and it is maqtu‘ anyway).

Hence, although Qurtubi presents the interpretation Haddad asserts as the interpretation of this verse, it is prefaced by an indication that it is weak, and it is demonstrably supported by weak evidence.

So the notion that “shahid” implies the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) is aware of the deeds of the entire ummah is supported by weak evidence and clearly contradicts the stronger evidences.

Moreover, there is clear evidence from the Qur’an and Sunnah that the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) did not know how all of his ummah responded:

First, the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam)’s repetition of ‘Isa’s statement for himself both in this world and in the afterlife, as explained above.

Second, verse 5:109 of the Qur’an indicates according to some interpretations that the prophets (all of them) are unaware of the full details of the conditions of their peoples’ response to them, which is why they said “We have no knowledge.” In fact, Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari said in the exact place where Haddad quotes him from his commentary of Mishkat:

“This [witnessing] does not negate His statement: “the day when Allah will assemble the messengers and will say to them, “How were you responded to?” They will say, “We have no knowledge. Surely You alone have the full knowledge of all that is unseen” because response is different to conveying, and it (i.e. the response of their peoples) requires details the essence of which is comprehended only by Allah, as opposed to conveying itself which is from obvious necessary knowledge.”

Third, the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) is told about some of the innovators from his ummah on the plains of Resurrection by the angels إنك لا تدري ما أحدثوا بعدك and لا علم لك (“You do not know” and “You have no knowledge of what they innovated after you”), as recorded in the Sahihs of Bukhari and Muslim, which is clear evidence that even after death and on the plains of resurrection, he is unaware of the actions of some of his ummah. This is also proven by the hadiths from Bukhari and Muslim which say he will only recognise his ummah by the white marks on them (ghurran muhajjalin) from the traces of wudu’ (and not from his previous knowledge of them).

Fourthly, in a hadith al-Tirmidhi said is “sahih,” he narrates the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: لا أراكم بعد عامي هذا (Perhaps I will not see you after this year of mine).

Fifthly, with respect to the earlier peoples, there are many verses of the Qur’an which explicitly say the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) was NOT present where certain significant events happened to earlier peoples and prophets:

“And (O prophet,) you were not there at the Western side (of the mount Tur) when We delegated the matter to Musa, nor were you among those present… And you were not dwelling among the people of Madyan, reciting Our verses to them, but it is We who do send messengers. And you were not at the side of (the mount) Tur when We called (Musa)” (28:44-5)

“Nor were you among those present” – the word used for present here is “shahid.” So this verse clearly negates the meaning of shahid as being present and witnessing. And when it affirms “shahid” for him in other verses it is either according to another meaning of “witness” or restricted to those he interacted with.

Ibn Kathir says under the commentary of this verse:

أي وما كنت حاضرا لذلك ولكن الله أوحاه إليك

“You were not present (haadir) at that [event], but Allah inspired it to you.”

As Ibn Kathir mentions under the commentary of this verse, this is in fact proof of the Prophethood of the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasalam) as he was not present amongst earlier peoples, and yet related their tales. Ibn Kathir quotes similar verses:

“You were not with them when they were casting their pens (to decide) who, from among them, should be the guardian of Maryam, nor were you with them when they were quarrelling.” (3:44)

“You were not with them when they determined their object, and when they were planning devices.” (12:102)

Hence, the verses of the Qur’an explicitly state that the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasalam) was not present with Musa (‘alayhissalam), Maryam (‘alayhassalam), Shu‘ayb (‘alayhissalm) and Yusuf (‘alayhissalam) at significant events in their lives. Hence, he was not a witness over them in the meaning GF Haddad would like us to believe.

Haddad quotes Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari saying:

Al-Qari said in commentary of the narration of Nuh, `alayhis salaam, cited in Mishkat al-Masabih:“And he shall reply, ‘Muhammad and his Community’” means that his Community are witnesses while he vouches for them, but his men¬tion came first out of reverence (li-t-ta‘zîm). It is possible that he, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, too witnesses for Nuh, since it is a context of help and Allah Most High said [When Allah made (His) convenant with the Prophets] until He said [you shall believe in him and you shall help him] (3:81). In this there is a remarkable warning that the Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, is present and witnessing in that Greatest Inspection (wafîhi tanbîhun nabîhun annahu sallallâhu ‘alayhi wa sallama hâdirun nâzirun fî dhâlika al-‘ardi al-akbar), when the Prophets are brought, Nuh being the first, and the latter’s witnesses are brought, namely, this Community.[3]

Haddad in fact missed out a sentence in between which makes the above paragraph unclear as to the intent of Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari when he says, “In this is a remarkable warning…”

After he quotes verse 3:81, Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari goes back to the original hadith, which states: “The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: ‘Then you (the ummah) will be brought.’” And then Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari explains, “In this there is a remarkable warning…” But Haddad missed out the quotation of the hadith and moved straight onto this commentary.

When Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari says “hadir nazir” with respect to the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam), he is using it in the very obvious sense that is indicated by this phrase from the hadith. The hadith says the ummah will be brought to the place where Nuh (‘alahissalam) was, at the place of “the greatest inspection.” This shows the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alahi wasallam) was already present there as he was not “brought” there. All this means is that the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) was present at the place where this “inspection” was happening. It does not mean he is “omnipresent”!

Haddad says:

There are other verses that affirm that the Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, hears and sees the deeds of human beings. Allah Most High said: [And know that the Mes¬senger of Allah is among you] (49:7). In the verses [Allah and His Messenger will see your conduct] (9:94) and [Act! Allah will behold your actions, and (so will) His Messenger and the believers] (9:105), the Pro¬phet’s, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, perception is put on a par with that of the Lord of the worlds Who sees and encom¬passes all on the one hand and, on the other, that of all the living believers.

Again, Haddad uses unclear and weak interpretations of verses to prove his belief. The Qur’an says: “Those in whose heart is deviation, they follow what is unclear from it [i.e. the Qur’an], seeking discord.” (3:7) As for the true meanings of these verses:

“The Messenger is among you” (49:7) was said with respect to a particular situation amongst the Sahabah. The address is clearly to the Sahabah. Ibn Jarir al-Tabari says in the explanation of this verse:

يقول تعالى ذكره لأصحاب نبي الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: واعلموا أيها المؤمنون بالله ورسوله أن فيكم رسول الله

“He (Exalted is His Mention) says to the companions of the Prophet of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace): Know, O believers in Allah and His Messenger, that the Messenger of Allah is amongst you.”

This is also clear from the following part of the verse, “Had the Prophet obeyed you…” The Prophet obviously cannot obey those after the Sahabah, so the address is clearly to the Sahabah.

As for verse 9:94, it is talking about the munafiqun who stayed behind from battle, that the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) will see if these munafiqun repent or not. Haddad also quotes a similar verse which clearly disproves his claim: “Allah and His Messenger and the Believers will see your conduct” (9:105) – so do the believers hear and see the deeds of all human beings as is being implied here of the Messenger?!

Even though this verse clearly disproves the interpretation Haddad is trying to take from it, he still attempts to salvage this belief by saying the Prophet’s way of seeing is like that of Allah (!), and he uses words that are almost polytheistic in nature and certainly disrespectful of Allah:

“the Pro¬phet’s, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, percep¬tion is put on a par with that of the Lord of the worlds Who sees and encompasses all”

Whereas, no such thing is done. Instead, the verse is making a simple observation that eventually the munafiqun will be exposed and all will see them for what they are.

Then Gibril Haddad quotes three hadiths to “prove” the doctrine of hazir nazir and omnipresence:

The above is further confirmed in the Sunna by the following evidence:(1) Ibn Mas‘ud’s authentic narration of the Prophet’s, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, witnessing of all the deeds of the Umma from his Barzakh:The Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, said: “My life is a great good for you, you will relate about me and it will be related to you, and my death is a great good for you, your actions will be exhibited to me, and if I see good¬ness I will praise Allah, and if I see evil I will ask forgiveness of Him for you.” (Hayâtî khayrun lakum tuhaddithûna wa yuhad¬dathu lakum wa wafâtî khayrun lakum tu‘radu a‘malukum ‘alayya famâ ra’aytu min khayrin hamidtu Allâha wa mâ ra’aytu min shar¬rin istagh¬fartu Allâha lakum.)[5]

This hadith does not mean the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) is aware of all the actions of his entire ummah. Firstly, Mawlana Manzur Nu’mani points out in his Bawariq al-Ghayb that this hadith is clearly talking about the ummat al-ijabah only. There are two usages of “ummah”: one, all the people to whom the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) was sent, believer or otherwise – this is “ummat al-da’wah”; and second, those who responded to the message and accepted it – this is “ummat al-ijabah.” The reason it is clear the hadith is only talking about the latter is that the Prophet says: “if I see evil I will ask forgiveness of Allah for you.” Seeking forgiveness is not permitted for non-Muslims, so this only refers to Muslims. Therefore, all murtaddin, kuffar, munafiqin and zanadiqah are excluded from this hadith, which is a large proportion of people. Therefore, it certainly does not prove the Barelwi doctrine of Hazir Nazir or Haddad’s doctrine of “omnipresence.”

Furthermore, in order to harmonise this narration with the earlier stronger and more authentic narrations, it must be understood as a “general presentation” (‘ard ijmali) and not a “detailed presentation” (‘ard tafsili). Meaning, the actions are presented in a general way, without there necessarily being specification of the time, place, nature, doer etc. of the action.

In this way the hadith is consistent with the other more authentic and stronger Prophetic sayings: “I was a witness over them for as long as I was amongst them…” (which he says both in this world and the next) and that he will be told: “You have no knowledge of what they invented after you” and “Perhaps, I will not see you after this year of mine.”

(2) The authentic narration of “the Supernal Company” (al-mala’u al-a‘lâ) from Mu‘adh ibn Jabal (RA) and others
The Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, said: “My Lord came to me in the best form” – the narrator said: “I think he said: ‘in my sleep’” – “and asked me over what did the Higher Assembly (al-mala’ al-a‘lâ)[6] vie; I said I did not know, so He put His hand between my shoulders, and I felt its coolness in my innermost, and knowledge of all things between the East and the West came to me.”[7]

It is not authentic according to the preferred view. See for its grading and explanation here:


(3) The staying back of Sayyidina Gibril, `alayhis salaam, at the point the Pro¬phet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, went beyond the Lote-Tree of the Farthermost Boundary (sidrat al-muntaha) and heard the screeching of the pens writing the Foreor¬dained Decree then saw his Lord,[8] although Gibril is the closest of all crea¬tures to Allah U and the angels do see Him according to Ahl-al-Sunna.[9]

How exactly does this prove the Prophet is “omnipresent”? His hearing of the scratching of the pens is also mentioned in Bukhari and Muslim. It is clear Haddad will quote and reference anything to make his article longer and citations appear more impressive so people will think the claim that the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) is omnipresent is proven by incontestable evidence.

Haddad then says:

Al-Qari said in his commentary on al-Shifa’: “Meaning, because his soul, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, is present in the house of the Muslims (ay li’anna rûhahu ‘alayhi al-salâmu hâdirun fî buyûti al-muslimîn).”[11]

The Arabic does not say “fi buyuti al-muslimin” but “fi buyut Ahl al-Islam.” Of course this doesn’t make any difference to the meaning, but it shows Haddad’s sloppiness when he pretends to be all careful and technical. Moreover, he appears to accuse Mawlana Sarfraz Khan Safdar of misquoting as he quoted it as “hadiratun” instead of “hadirun” (which mean the same thing), whereas Mawlana Sarfraz Safdar was merely relying on a different edition (as will be shown below)!

Al-Qari, Sharh al-Shifa’ (2:117).

It’s actually 2:118

Haddad says:

What ‘Iyad cited from al-Athram is only narrated by al-Tabari in his Tafsir from Ibn Jurayj, from ‘Ata’ al-Khurasani (d. 135):

Hajjaj narrated to me from Ibn Jurayj: I said to ‘Ata’: “What if there is no-one in the house?” He said: “Give salâm! Say, al-salâmu ‘alâ al-Nabiyyi wa rahmatullâhi wa barakâtuh, al-salâmu ‘alaynâ wa ‘alâ ‘ibâdillah al-sâlihîn, al-salâmu ‘alâ ahli al-bayti wa rahmatullâh.” I said: “This statement you just said about my entering the house in which there is no-one, from whom did you receive it?” He replied: “I heard it without receiving it from anyone in particular.”[12]‘Ata’ was a pious muhaddith, mufti, and wâ‘iz from whom Yazid ibn Samura heard the statement: “The gatherings of dhikr are the gatherings of [teaching] the halâl and the harâm.”[13] His trustworthiness and/or memory were contested by al-Bukhari, Abu Zur‘a, Ibn Hibban, Shu‘ba, al-Bayhaqi, al-‘Uqayli, and Ibn Hajar, but he was nevertheless declared thiqa by Ibn Ma‘in, Abu Hatim, al-Daraqutni, al-Thawri, Malik, al-Awza‘i, Ahmad, Ibn al-Madini, Ya‘qub ibn Shayba, Ibn Sa‘d, al-‘Ijli, al-Tabarani, and al-Tirmidhi, while Ibn Rajab concludes he is “thiqa thiqa.”[14]

In order to assess the validity of this athar, it is not enough to grade the last person in the chain i.e. ‘Ata’. All the narrators in the chain need to be assessed. Al-Tabari’s shaykh in this sanad is: al-Qasim ibn al-Hasan who is unknown (Mu’jam Shuyukh al-Tabari p. 407). His shaykh is Husayn ibn Dawud al-Missisi Sunayd, the scholars had mixed views about him; Shu’ayb Arna’ut and Basshar ‘Awwad Ma’ruf concluded he is weak. Thus, the chain leading to ‘Ata’ is weak to begin with, so this narration is not dependable upon.

Now, we move on to where GF Haddad attacks Mawlana Sarfraz Khan Safdar:

Recently, a Deobandi writer forwarded the strange claim that al-Qari’s text in Sharh al-Shifa’ actually stated, “NOT THAT his soul, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, is present in the houses of the Muslims”(lâ anna rûhahu hâdiratun fî buyûti al-muslimîn)

Firstly, this “claim” is not “recent” which I will explain later.

The Arabic which Mawlana Safdar mentioned is “fi buyuti ahl al-Islam” not “fi buyuti l-Muslimin.” It’s right there on the page that Haddad references (p. 167 of Ankhoh ki Thunduk).

that is, the diametrical opposite of what al-Qari actually said!:He [al-Qari] discussed the issue in the Sharh of Shifa, that lâ anna rûhahu hâdiratun fî buyûti al-muslimîn i.e. this notion is incorrect that the soul of our Master Hazrat Mohammed, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, is present in the homes of the Muslims. In some copies the word lâ has been dropped and has with¬out any reason created confusion for some individuals, including Mufti Ahmed Yar Khan sahib (see Jaa al-Haqq p. 142). … In all his explicit quotes Hazrat Mulla Ali al-Qari himself negates the belief of hâdir wa nâzir. Those who have relied on his brief, indistinct quotes (out of context) are absolutely and definitely wrong.[15]That one can actually dare to make the above claim is only because of ignorance of the Arabic language since al-Qari prefaces the statement with the word “meaning (ay),” which would be grammatically incorrect if it were followed by a disclaimer such as “not that his soul is present in the houses of the Muslims.” The truth is that no such word as lâ has been dropped because there was no such word there in the first place, and the claim that there was is nothing short of tampering (tahrîf). Furthermore, the word al-Qari used for “present” is hâdir in the masculine, not hâdiratun in the feminine, as rûh can have either gender but the masculine is more appropriate here to refer to the Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam.

He says this “is diametrically opposite to what al-Qari actually said” but if he looked at the entire section from Aankhoh ki Thunduk, Mawlana Sarfraz Khan Safdar proves clearly from Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari’s own writings that the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) is not seeing, hearing and present in every place. He quotes Mulla al-Qari from his treatise al-Durrat al-Mudi’ah fi al-Ziyarat al-Mustafawiyyah, saying:

“From the greatest benefits of Ziyarah is that when the visitor sends blessing and peace on him near his grave, he hears it, with a literal hearing, and he replies to it directly, as opposed to the one who sends blessing and peace on him from far, because that does not reach him except indirectly…”

ومن أعظم فوائد الزيارة أن الزائر إذا صلى وسلم عليه عند قبره سمعه سماعا حقيقيا ورد عليه من غير واسطة بخلاف من يصلي وسلم من بعيد فإن ذلك لا يبلغه إلا بواسطة

And then Shaykh Safdar says such explicit quotes cannot be overridden by ambiguous ones. In fact, Mawlana Safdar has a full treatise called “Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari aur Mas’alah Ilm al-Ghayb wa Hazir wa Nazir” in which he shows with extensive documentation, mainly from Mirqat al-Mafatih, that Mulla ‘Ali Qari definitely did not subscribe to the Barelwi doctrine of “Hazir Nazir”.

You can download the treatise here:


What Mawlana Safdar ascribed to Mulla Qari is consistent with what he wrote in other places.

Furthermore, in this treatise, Mawlana Safdar explains that if this passage is as it is in the printed edition, it does not make any sense. If it means literally the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) is present because it says to send salam on him when entering the house, it would mean all the prophets and righteous slaves are also present, as the supplication includes all of them, so why specify his soul and not mention theirs? This is why Mawlana Safdar says the manuscripts which have “la li anna” is more plausible, and more consistent with Mulla ‘Ali Qari’s writings both in Sharh al-Shifa and elsewhere.

In Sharh al-Shifa itself, shortly after this passage, Mulla Ali Qari says that the one who recites salawat away from the grave, it reaches the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) through the medium of angels. Did he contradict himself in the same book?

That one can actually dare to make the above claim is only because of ignorance of the Arabic language since al-Qari prefaces the statement with the word “meaning (ay),” which would be grammatically incorrect if it were followed by a disclaimer such as “not that his soul is present in the houses of the Muslims.” The truth is that no such word as lâ has been dropped because there was no such word there in the first place, and the claim that there was is nothing short of tampering (tahrîf).

Note, he says this is “nothing short of tampering,” but that would only be the case if Mawlana Safdar did not base his claim on any reliable manuscript evidence. In fact Mawlana Safdar is simply quoting the research of Mawlana Yahya Kandhlewi (d. 1334 H) (the father of Mawlana Zakariyya Kandhlewi, and student of Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi) who wrote a book called “Mas’alah Ilm al-Ghayb” in which he said that he has seen some hand-written copies of Sharh al-Shifa where it says “La li anna ruhahu…”

As for Gibril Haddad saying this is grammatically incorrect: firstly, he has given no proof for this claim from any work of Nahw. It is possible Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari meant (as Mawlana Safdar says he meant): “Meaning, not that his soul is present in the houses of the people of Islam, but that it reaches him through the medium of angels” which makes perfect sense. Secondly, in Mawlana Yahya Kandhlewi’s description of the manuscript he does not mention “ay,” so it may be that the original read: “la li anna ruhahu..” without “ay” at the start; which Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari probably said to clarify that it reaches him by the medium of angels.

When this is possible, the evidence drawn from this passage is negated (إذا جاء الاحتمال بطل الاستدلال), as Shaykh Safdar goes on to say. GF Haddad says:

Furthermore, the word al-Qari used for “present” is hâdir in the masculine, not hâdiratun in the feminine, as rûh can have either gender but the masculine is more appropriate here to refer to the Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam,

The edition used by Mawlana Safdar (the Azhariyyah edition) has it as “hadiratun” and not “hadirun” (volume 3, page 464). You can download the third volume here:


Yes, the edition Haddad used says “hadirun.” But how does he know which it is that al-Qari used?

For more details about the allegation of tampering against Mawlana Safdar, see http://razakhanimazhab.com/home/difa…08-06-10-55-37

Haddad says:

Furthermore, are Hâdir and Nâzir among the Divine Names and Attributes? Imam Ahmad al-Sirhindi was quoted to say: “Allah Most High is aware of each and every minor and major condition and isHâdir and Nâzir. One should feel shame before Him.”[17

However, the Divine Attributes are ordained and non-inferable.[18] Logic, reasoning, analogy, and other forms of interpretation are not used to infer an attribute but only Divine disclosure through the primary two sources of the Shari‘a i.e. Qur’an and Sunna. This is an elementary point of doctrine that is present in most if not all books of ‘aqîda, including the Maturidi classics….As for al-Hâdir it is precluded, because Hâdir in Arabic has the sense of a being physically present at a location, i.e. attributes of the created that are abso¬lutely precluded from the Creator. Therefore Hâdirin relation to Allah Most High, like the attribute of omnipresence, may only be applied figura¬tively to mean that He is All-Knowledgeable, but neither “Omnipresent” nor Hâdir have actually been reported or mentioned among the Divine Attributes in the Qur’an, the Sunna, and the texts of the early Imams. Allah knows best.

Shaykh Safdar explains in detail in what context and based on what evidence “hadir” “nazir” can be said of Allah in the book Haddad supposedly had access to, Ankhoh ki Thunduk.

Mawlana Safdar says on page 15: “There is no doubt that Allah Almighty is not in need of place and location…” He goes on to say Allah’s names are not limited to 99 but some scholars counted up to 1000 transmitted names. Mawlana Safdar also explains that it is allowed to translate the attributes into other languages, and there are some Urdu translations where “shaheed” is translated as “haazir” and “baseer” as “naazir”. (p. 16) Then mawlana Safdar quotes a number of verses and hadiths in which it states Allah sees using the verb نظر ينظر. And, in fact, the very word “Nazir” is found in a hadith recorded in al-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, Mustadrak for Allah:

إن الله مستخلفكم فيها فناظر كيف تعملون

Furthermore, regarding “hadir,” the Qur’an says “وما كنا غائبين” (We are not absent) and when some Sahabah called out dhikr to Allah in a raised voice, the Prophet said: “إنكم لا تدعون أصم ولا غائبا” (You are not calling a being that is deaf or absent). The implication is clear: Allah is not absent, He is present, which is “hadir” in Arabic. Mawlana Safdar quotes the famous Sufi master, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Quddus Gangohi (d. 944 H) that he said: “Allah Almighty is present (haadir) and not absent (ghaa’ib).”

None of what the opponents bring up as supposed proofs actually invalidates the use of Hâdir and Nâzir for the Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam,

But Haddad himself said: “Prophetic Attributes are tawqifi” so how can he attribute these things to the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) without proof? It’s not the opposition that needs to bring proof that he is not haadir naazir, but according to his own principle, he is the one that needs to present proof that he is.

In fact there is plenty of proof that the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasalam) is not hadir and nazir in the sense Haddad intends it, i.e. omnipresent. Many of these proofs have already been discussed above.

If it comes to scholarly quotations, they should accept that the attributes of Hâdir and Nâzir are applied to the Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, by the Ulema of Ahl al-Sunna such as Mulla Ali al-Qari as cited above, and countless others such as the Friends of Allah known to keep company with the Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, day and night, among them Shaykh Abu al-‘Abbas al-Mursi, Shaykh Abu al-Hasan al-Shadhili, and Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Dabbagh, probably also Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi himself – may Allah sanctify their secrets.

He doesn’t give any references for the statements of Shaykhs Abu al-‘Abbas Mursi, al-Shadhili, al-Dabbagh and al-Sirhindi, and if they did use it, they probably meant “hadir” figuratively to mean “as though he is present.”

As for Mulla ‘Ali Qari’s usage, it was clearly said in the specific context of the “inspection” in which the Prophet will be present and seeing. It is not meant in the meaning Haddad intends it, i.e. omnipresent and seeing everything. This was explained above.

Haddad says:

The reply is: Does this Mufti have knowledge of the unseen and the gift of ubiquity? For he positively affirms that the Prophet, sall-Allahu `alayhi wa sallam, (1) is not present at a given Mawlid function and (2) is not possibly present at any place other than in Madina, in his grave! So then, he allows that the other Prophets can be in Bayt al-Maqdis praying, and in Makka making tawâf, and in the Seven Heavens, but he insists that our Prophet – upon him and them blessings and peace – is confined to his Noble Grave?

The Prophet’s (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) blessed body and physical being is confined to his Noble Grave. He may be present in other places only in the sense of a “likeness” (mithal) appearing elsewhere, not his physical being. It is not possible for someone to be in two places at the same time. For more detail, see: https://barelwism.wordpress.com/2012/…s-omnipresent/

So the Mufti was correct when he said: “Rasulullah, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, does not arrive at any “Eid-e-Milad-un Nabee,” function. He is in his Rawdha-e-Mubarak (grave) at Madinah Munawwarah and will emerge from it at the onset of Yawmul-Qiyaamah, or the Day of Judgement”

As for a likeness appearing, that is another matter.

Source:  http://www.sunniforum.com/forum/showthread.php?74735-A-critical-look-at-Gibril-Haddad%E2%80%99s-Review-of-Taqwiyat-al-Iman%E2%80%8F&p=879164&viewfull=1#post879164

Lies, distortions, and slanders by GF Haddad

April 28, 2012

As some of you are probably aware, brother Muzammil Husayn has written a number of posts on sunniforum refuting Shaykh GF Haddad, during which clear slanders, distortions and lies have surfaced. I have gathered a few of these statements into one post as an example of the deception perpetrated by this tradionalist scholar who exercises some degree of influence online, to the extent that many brothers have fallen for his slanders against certain righteous ulama. The sample below should be enough to alert brothers to the fact that this scholar is not a reliable source of information. If anyone here has contact with the Shaykh, then he is requested to bring this sample to the Shaykh’s attention:

1. GF Haddad said: “It is also a remarkable revision of history to represent Ismā.īl Dihlawī as a reviver of jihād. In reality, he was a rebel bāghī who opposed the jihād against the British declared by the last Mughāl Sultan of India.”

The last Mughal sultan of India was Bahadur Shah who came to power in 1837 several years after the death of Shah Isma‘il. Shah Isma‘il did not oppose any jihad.

2. GF Haddad said: “[Taqwiyat al-Iman of] Ismā.īl Dihlawī was also immediately opposed by a host of Indian Sunnī Ulema beginning with his own family and the Ulema of Delhi such as his two paternal uncles Shāh .Abd al-.Azīz Muh.addith Dihlawī (d. 1239/1834) (the son of Shāh Walī Allāh and one of those considered a Renewer of the thirteenth Hijrī century) and Shāh Raf.ī al-Dīn Muh.addith Dihlawī in his Fatāwā””

Shah Rafi‘ al-Din passed away in 1233 H/1818 AD before Taqwiyat al-Iman was even written, so it is not possible he wrote a refutation. Also Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz died in 1824 not 1834.

3. GF Haddad said: “Ismā.īl Dihlawī wrote Taqwiyat al-Īmān in the wake of his H.ijāz years (1236-1239), at which time he had come under the tutelage of Wahhābī missionaries.”

In the period Shah Isma’il went to perform Hajj (“his Hijaz years”), the followers of Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab had already been expelled from the Hijaz, and it was under Ottoman rule when the followers of Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab were vilified, and they held no sway in these lands. Besides this clear historical indication that Shah Isma’il most probably had no contact with “Wahhabi missionaries,” scholars of his movement find no evidence of any relation or connection between them.

Harlan O. Pearson an academic researcher on Sayyid Ahmad Berelwi’s movement (called Tariqah Muhammadiyyah) wrote while discussing Shah Isma‘il and the Tariqah Muhammadiyyah’s pilgrimage: “The Indian Muhammadi [i.e. the movement of Sayyid Ahmad Shahid and Shah Isma’il] had no apparent connection with the Arabian Wahhabi movement. By performing the pilgrimage, they were performing a basic religious duty in preparation for their later activities.” (Islamic Reform and Revival in Nineteenth Century India, Yoda Press,2008, p. 39)

Muhammad Hedayatullah wrote in his Masters thesis for McGill University on Sayyid Ahmad Barelwi: “His [Sayyid Ahmad’s] relation with the Arabian Wahhabis is not historically proved.” (A Study of the Religious Reform Movement of Sayyid Ahmad of Rae Bareli, p. 26)

4. GF Haddad said: “The night of the Mawlid Sharif is of greater significance and merit than Laylat al-Qadr which is the position of some of the Maliki Imams as cited by Abu al-`Abbas al-Wansharisi (d. 914) in his encyclopdia of Maliki fatwas titled _al-Mi`yar al-Mu`rab wa al-Jami` al-Mughrib fi Fatawa Ahl Ifriqya wa al-Andalus wa al-Maghrib (11:280-285).”

“Some” normally means “more than one,” but this encyclopaedia only cites one person stating this view.

5. GF Haddad said: “Secondly, it is patently false that the origin of the two `Eids cannot be attributed to any particular event of history that had happened on these dates as the books of Tafsir are replete with the story of the sacrifice of Ibrahim (as) with his son Isma`il (as) on the occasion of which was offered a huge ram as stated in the Holy Qur’an.”

There is no proof that the sacrifice of Ibrahim (‘alayhi salam) happened on the day of ‘Id (10th Dhu l-Hijjah).

6. GF Haddad said: “As for death anniversaries, the Prophet definitely visited his wife and uncle’s graves on a regular basis as well as his mother’s.”

No such rigorously authentic narration exists which state he visited any of these relatives on a regular basis.

7. Translating a passage from Siyar A’lam al-Nubala’, GF Haddad quotes al-Dhahabi as follows: “As for his celebration of the Noble Mawlid al-Nabawi, words are too poor to describe it. The people used to come all the way from Iraq and Algeria to attend it. Two wooden dais would be erected and decorated for him and his wife… the celebration would last several days, and a huge quantity of cows and camels would be brought out to be sacrificed and cooked in different ways… Preachers would roam the field exhorting the people. Great sums were spent (as charity). Ibn Dihya compiled a ‘Book of Mawlid’ for him for which he received 1,000 dinars. He [Muzaffar] was modest, a LOVER OF GOOD, AND A TRUE SUNNI who loved scholars of jurisprudence and scholars of hadith, and was generous even to poets. He was killed in battle according to what is reported.”

The original passage of al-Dhahabi’s Siyar does not say “a true Sunni” (sunniyyun haqqan), but just “Sunni”. In the deliberately placed ellipsis, al-Dhahabi said: “In them [i.e. the pavilions erected for the mawlid celebration] were musicians and men of play, and he [i.e. al-Malik al-Muzaffar] would come down everyday at ‘Asr and stand at every pavilion and watch/take enjoyment from (the music and play).” (wa fiha jawq al-maghani wa al-la’ib, wa yanzilu kulla yawmin al-‘asra fayaqifu ‘ala kulli qubbatin wa yatafarraj). This was not translated amidst the remainder of the passage for obvious reasons.

8. GF Haddad said regarding the narration in which the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) prayed at Bethlehem during the Night Journey: “and al-Bazzar [narrated it] with a sound chain as indicated by al-Haythami in Majma` al-Zawa’id”

On the hadith in question, al-Haythami says in Majma’ al-Zawa’id: “Al-Bazzar and al-Tabrani in al-Kabir narrated it…In it is Ishaq ibn Ibrahim ibn al-‘Ala, considered trustworthy by Yahya ibn Ma’in and weakened by al-Nasa’i.”

رواه البزار والطبراني في الكبير ، إلا أن الطبراني قال فيه : ” قد أخذ صاحبك الفطرة ، وإنه لمهدي . وقال في وصف جهنم كيف وجدتها ؟ قال : مثل الحمة السخنة ” . وفيه إسحاق بن إبراهيم بن العلاء ، وثقه يحيى بن معين ، وضعفه النسائي

And this Haddad claims is an indication of its soundness from al-Haythami though he makes no such judgement.

9. GF Haddad said: “Secondly, the prescription of the commemoration of the birth of Christ *was* prescribed in the early Christian Church, even if its chronological proximity to the pagan commemoration of the winter solstice was co-opted by the political authorities as a means to recycle prevalent social customs in certain regions including those of pagan origins.”

In exact contradiction to this statement, the Catholic Encyclopaedia states: “Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church. Irenaeus and Tertullian omit it from their lists of feasts; Origen, glancing perhaps at the discreditable imperial Natalitia, asserts (in Lev. Hom. viii in Migne, P.G., XII, 495) that in the Scriptures sinners alone, not saints, celebrate their birthday; Arnobius (VII, 32 in P.L., V, 1264) can still ridicule the “birthdays” of the gods.” The Encyclopaedia goes on to mention that the first time it was celebrated was two centuries after Christ. It seems, Haddad’s assertion that the commemoration of the birth of Christ was prescribed in the early Church, is simply fabricated and has no basis in fact.

10. GF Haddad said in his review of Kitab al-Tawhid: “Citing another weak narration that “a Companion” said: “Let us all go seek the help of the Messenger of Allâh (qûmû binâ nastaghîthu birasûlillah) against this hypocrite [`Abd Allâh ibn Ubay ibn Salûl who challenged Abû Bakr to ask the Prophet for a major miracle],” whereupon the Prophet said: “Innahu lâ yustaghâthu bî innamâ yustaghâthu billâh * “Help is not sought with me, it is sought only with Allâh.” Ibn `Abd al-Wahhâb references it to al-T.abarânî. [10]
First neither the wording nastaghîthu birasûlillah nor innahu lâ yustaghâthu bî innamâ yustaghâthu billâh is found in any book of h.adîth and there is no chain for them! The reference to “al-T.abarânî” shows blind imitation of Ibn Taymiyya’s incorrect referencing of these wordings to al-T.abarânî’s al-Mu`jam al-Kabîr in al-Radd `alâ al-Bakrî and Majmû` al-Fatâwâ.”

In fact, the exact narration as quoted by Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab was narrated by al-Tabrani. In Majma’ al-Zawa’id (Kitab al-Ad’iyah, Bab Fima Yustaftah bihi al-Du’a…vol 10, page 246 Darwish ed.), al-Haythami said:

عن عبادة بن الصامت قال قال أبو بكر قوموا نستغيث برسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم من هذا المنافق فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم انه لا يستغاث بى إنما يستغاث بالله عزوجل
رواه الطبراني ورجاله رجال الصحيح غير ابن لهيعة وهو حسن الحديث

After narrating it with the wording presented by Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab with “Help is not sought from me, it is only sought from Allah,” al-Haytami says: “Al-Tabrani narrated it and its men are the men of the Sahih besides Ibn Lahi’ah whose hadiths are hasan.”

Source:  http://www.sunniforum.com/forum/showthread.php?86196-Warning-Lies-distortions-and-slanders-by-Shaykh-GF-Haddad

GF Haddad Changes his Opinion

February 29, 2012

The Fatwa below clearl shows GF Haddad refuting the Barelwi accusation about Shah Isma’il, and accepting the argument against Barelwis. Remember that according the Barelwis the statement of Shah Ismail was clear kufr (sarih), and any interpretation would lead to kufr. GF Haddad should be declared an unbeliever now by the Barelwis:


Assalamualaykum Shaykh Gibril,

The Deobandis have recently wrote answers in English to several of the accusations of error in their books, and claim Imam Ahmad Rida told lies. See the following:








What is your opinion on these answers, and are they correct and justified?


wa `alaykum salam,
Those who painstakingly gathered and translated the apologetic evidence in defense of Shah Ismail deserve credit because they have brought to light material from the sources that was unavailable before, and my feeling is they have tried to be fair in their translations. After a quick perusal of a few issues I am satisfied that on the one hand Shah Ismail is blameless on the issue of sarf al himma, but not on that of ‘mixing with the earth’ despite Mawlana Gangohi’s attempt to make it sound acceptable to use an ambiguous expression. Prophetic Attributes are tawqifi and here as elsewhere we stand with athar. Nor is Shah Ismail’s position that more Muhammads can be created other than tanqis of Prophet posing as ta’zim of Allah Most High. Those who ask for such discussions must therefore sift the chaff from the good and give each its due. In the end we repeat it is best to leave it alone, make peace, worship Allah and bless the Prophet.

Hajj Gibril Haddad

Source: http://eshaykh.com/doctrine/deobandi-explanation-of-controversial-passages/


A critique to the above comment by GF Haddad:

Notice, he makes no apology for the false claims he propagated, even the one he admits where he says “I am satisfied that on the one hand Shah Ismail is blameless on the issue of sarf al himma” when previously he said: “Ismā.īl Dihlawī is also notorious for affirming in his purported Straight Path. (al-Sirāt al-Mustaqīm) apparently co-authored with his close associate Sayyid Ahmad Barelwī that becoming absorbed (s.arf-e-himmat) in the Prophet Muhammad, were it to occur during Salāt, is much worse than to become absorbed in the thought of an ox or adonkey. It goes without saying that such a statement constitutes clear disparagement of the Prophet, which is passible of death in all four Sunnī Schools.” So before he was deserving of the death penalty but now he is blameless? Why does he not admit such major distortions and errors, and acknolwedge that he based his review on biased sources which he should now accept as unreliable? Instead he brushes it off as though nothing was said or written.

Haddad says: “But not on that of ‘mixing with the earth’ despite Mawlana Gangohi’s attempt to make it sound acceptable to use an ambiguous expression. Prophetic Attributes are tawqifi and here as elsewhere we stand with athar.” To anybody with some sense, this makes no sense. The phrase “mixing with the earth” (which simply means “was buried”) was used as an explanation of a hadith; it was not said as a prophetic attribute. See this post above. On the other hand, when Gibril Haddad says the Prophet is “omnipresent” (see his article here) [while no athar states the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) is present in all places], his assertion “Prophetic Attributes are tawqifi and here as elsewhere we stand with athar” is clearly proven false.

He says: “Nor is Shah Ismail’s position that more Muhammads can be created other than tanqis of Prophet posing as ta’zim of Allah Most High”

Shah Isma’il doesn’t exactly say “more Muhammads can be created.” Rather, his exact words in Taqwiyat al-Iman are:

Iss Shahinshah ki to yeh shaan he keh ek aan meh ek hukm “kun” se chahe to kororoh nabi or wali or jin wa firashte jibra’il aur Muhammad sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam ki barabar peda kur dale aur ek dam meh sara ‘alam ‘arsh sey farsh tuk alat pulut kur dale aur ek aur hi ‘alam is jagah qaim kureh

Translation: “The nature of this King of Kings is such that if He wished, then [merely] with the order “Be,” He can create millions of prophets, saints, jinn and angels equal to Jibra’il and Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) in one moment, and in one second He can turn upside-down the entire creation from the Throne to the earth and put another creation in its place.”

The context in which Shah Isma’il said this was to reject what he refers to as the popular misunderstanding of prophetic intercession as “shafa’ati wajahah” which was discussed in an earlier post. He explains that Allah is utterly independent of His creation, and has no need for them whatsoever.

The second part of the translated sentence above is a paraphrase of the Qur’an: Allah says: “O mankind! You are the poor in your relation to Allah. And Allah! He is the Independent, the Praiseworthy. If He wills, He can be rid of you and bring (instead of you) some new creation. That is not a hard thing for Allah.” (35:15-17) & He said: “Allah is the Independent, and you are the poor. And if you turn away He will exchange you for some other folk, and they will not be the likes of you.” (47:38)

The first part of the sentence, which is the section in question, is also the implication of some verses of the Qur’an: For example, under the verse which says, “Had We wished, we would have sent a warner to every village.” (25:51); after explaining how this verse elevates the position of the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam), al-Razi writes: “The verse implies a mix of gentleness with harshness because it illustrates the power [of Allah] to send a warner like Muhammad to every village, and that the Divine Presence has no need at all for Muhammad.”

الآية تقتضي مزج اللطف بالعنف لأنها تدل على القدرة على أن يبعث في كل قرية نذيراً مثل محمد، وأنه لا حاجة بالحضرة الإلهية إلى محمد ألبتة

Is this disrespect and tanqis posing as ta’zim of Allah?

Slightly later in the same context, Shah Isma’il says “No one can harm Him or benefit Him.” In his footnote to this comment, Sayyid Abu al-Hasan ‘Ali al-Nadwi quotes the hadith qudsi from Sahih Muslim, “Were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the jinn of you, to be [as pious] as the most pious heart of any one man of you [which is the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam), as Mubarakpuri said in his commentary of the same hadith from Tirmidhi], that would not increase My kingdom in anything…”

Gibril Haddad ends his answer by saying: “In the end we repeat it is best to leave it alone, make peace, worship Allah and bless the Prophet.” In that case, why write such a baseless review and attack Shah Isma’il on false charges?

A critical look at Gibril Haddad’s Review of Taqwiyat al-Iman‏

July 18, 2011

Courtesy from Muzzammil Husayn on sf:

Gibril Haddad wrote a review of Taqwiyat al-Iman based on its English translation some years ago (available here) which is full of hyperbole and misinformation as a result of his bias, dishonesty, ignorance and over-reliance on the translation. The following is a critical look at some parts of his review (Haddad’s comments are indented):

He wrote:

He [Shah Isma‘il] (1193-1246) eventually strayed so far from the Sunnī and Naqshbandī Sūfī path of his illustrious forefathers

He offers no substantial evidence for this claim. Shah Isma‘il remained on the Naqshbandi path he pledged at the hands of Sayyid Ahmad Berelwi (1201-1246) – who was a spiritual disciple of and had received khilafah from Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Dihlawi – and he never left it. Shah Isma’il wrote on Islamic mysticism and Sufi metaphysics expanding on his grandfather’s writings in a work called al-‘Abaqat. ‘Allamah Shabbir Ahmad al-‘Uthmani (d. 1949), considered the muhaqqiq al-‘asr (verifer of the age) by ‘Allamah al-Kawthari, wrote in his Fath al-Mulhim which the latter evaluated as the best commentary on Sahih Muslim, “We have not found an elaboration of the laws of tajalli (divine manifestation – in Sufi terminology) and a realisation of its essence in a manner the heart finds rest and by which the chest expands, in spite of an extreme search and intense investigation in the books of the Folk (i.e. Sufis), except what the magnificent ‘Allamah, the noble Gnostic, the incomparable [scholar] of his time and amongst his contemporaries, my master and my support, Muhammad Isma’il al-Shahid al-Dihlawi (Allah sanctify his soul) verified in his book al-‘Abaqat…” (Fath al-Mulhim 2:315) This is an illustration not only of his depth of knowledge in tasawwuf and its books, but his unique contributions to it. Shah Isma’il also co-authored with Mawlana ‘Abd al-Hayy al-Burhanawi (d. 1243), another relation of Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, al-Sirat al-Mustaqim which is primarily a work on tasawwuf.

If it is claimed he renounced tasawwuf in his later life – despite there being no evidence – this is easily disproved by a work Shah Isma’il wrote towards the end of his life called Mansab Imamat which is infused with Sufi teachings; for example, he dicusses the division of the Awliya into those who have general reformative tasks, amongst whom he includes Khidr, the Awtad, Abdal and Afrad, and those who have special tasks, like the Nujaba and Ruqaba (Urdu translation of Mansab Imamat p. 101 – available here). It is very farfetched to claim, therefore, on the basis of evidence, that he strayed from the Sufi path of his forefathers.

As for Sunnism, Shah Isma’il clearly defines Sunnism in his ‘Abaqat where he says there is legitimate group difference and illegitimate ones; in the latter he includes the differences between the Shi’ah and Sunnis and the differences between the Mu’tazila and Ash’aris; and in the former (legitimate group differences which he calls “the people of truth”) he includes the differences between the four Imams, Ash’aris and Maturidis, and the Imams of the different Sufi turuq (quoted here).

As for straying from the path of his forefathers, scholars have said, to the contrary, Shah Isma‘il trod firmly on the path of his grandfather. For example, Siddiq Hasan al-Qinnawaji (1248-1307) wrote: “His [Shah Wali Allah’s] grandson Mawlawi Muhammad Isma‘il the martyr, followed the footsteps of his grandfather in both word and deed, and he completed what his grandfather began.” (Nuzhat al-Khawatir) Some examples of his adherence to Shah Wali Allah, contrary to the opinions held by GF Haddad, are shown below. Even his liberal attitude to following madhhabs as highlighted in his books Tanwir al-‘Aynayn fi Ithbat Raf’ al-Yadayn and Tanqid al-Jawaz fi Jawaz Raf’ al-Yadayn fi al-Salah has echoes in Shah Wali Allah’s writings, though the Deobandis did not imitate them in this.

Haddad produces as evidence for the previous statement:

that he became what the Indian H.anafī and Māturīdī Shaykh, Fad.l al-Rasūl al-Badaywānī (1213-1289) in his al-Mu.taqad al-Muntaqad (1270) calls .the chief Najdī. (kabīr al-najdiyya) of India and their patron. (mawlāhum)

He falsely assumes here that according to al-Badayuni (not “Badaywani”) being the “chief Najdi” implies deviation from the way of his “illustrious forefathers” but Nuzhat al-Khawatir records in the biography of Fadl al-Rasul al-Badayuni that he attacked Shah Wali Allah too:

“[Fadl al-Rasul al-Badayuni] was a quarrelsome and argumentative jurist, extremely partial to his madhhab, always disputing with ‘ulama. [He was] the farthest of Allah’s creation from Sunnah, and a supporter of bid‘ah. [He was] a refuter of the people of truth with his falsehoods, a lover of the material world. He would anathematise Shaykh Isma‘il ibn ‘Abd al-Ghani al-Dihlawi, and he accused Shaykh Wali Allah al-Muhaddith of Nasibism and Kharijism. He attacked Shaykh Ahmad ibn ‘Abd al-Ahad al-Sirhindi the Imam of the Mujaddidi Order and said that they were misguided [themselves] and misguided [others].” (Nuzhat al-Khawatir 7:1065)

الشيخ العالم الفقيه فضل رسول بن عبد المجيد بن عبد الحميد العثماني الأموي البَدايُوني أحد الفقهاء الحنفية ولد في صفر سنة ثلاث عشرة ومئتين وألف…وكان فقيها جدليا مناظرا شديد التعصب فى المذهب دائم المخاصمة بالعلماء أبعد خلق الله عن السنة منتصرا للبدعة رادا على أهل الحق بخرافاته محبا للدنيا وكان يكفر الشيخ إسماعيل بن عبد الغني الدهلوي ويرمي بالنصب والخروج الشيخ ولي الله المحدث ويطعن فى الشيخ أحمد بن عبد الأحد السرهندي إمام الطريقة المجددية ويقول إنهم ضلوا فأضلوا

Faḍl-e-Rasūl Badāyūnī wrote in his Persian book Al-Bawāriq al-Muḥammadiyya bi Rajmi al-Shayātīn al-Najdiyya (The Muḥammadan Lightning in Striking The Najdī Satans): “The conclusion of everything that Shāh Walī Allāh has written shows that he is against the Ahl al-Sunnat wa al-Jamāʿat.” (source)

Perhaps Badayuni’s problem with Shah Isma‘il was not departing from the way of Shah Wali Allah, but following him too closely.

Al-Badaywānī is among the earliest Indian Ulema to refute Ismā.īl.s books that form the basis of Wahhābism in that country such as Taqwiyat al-Īmān (1240), Īd.āh.al-H.aqq, al-S.irāt al-Mustaqīm

He offers no proof why he believes the latter two works “form the basis of Wahhabism” in India and he most probably has not read either of them. A scholar Gibril Haddad has high regard for because Allamah Zahid al-Kawthari considered him the imam al-‘asr, Allamah Anwar Shah Kashmiri, praised the work Idah al-Haqq al-Sarih for its academic worth in refuting innovations in his well-known Fayd al-Bari. Al-Kashmiri wrote: “Bid‘ah is what its founder invents with a good intention and it becomes mixed up with the Shari‘ah. Refer for this Idah al-Haq al-Sarih by Shah Isma‘il and Kitab al-I‘tisam by al-Shatibi.” (Fayd al-Bari 5:540)

البدعة ما اخترعها صاحبها بحسن نية فالتبس بالشرع وراجع لها إيضاح الحق الصريح للشاه إسماعيل وكتاب الاعتصام للشاطبي

Was ‘Allamah Kashmiri a propagator of Wahhabism? Al-Sirat al-Mustaqim is a work Shah Isma‘il co-authored with his fellow disciple, ‘Abd al-Hayy ibn Hibat Allah al-Siddiqi al-Burhanawi, about the spiritual teachings of Sayyid Ahmad ibn ‘Irfan al-Berelwi. Muhammad Hedayatullah wrote in his masters thesis from McGill University on the subject of al-Sirat al-Mustaqim, “throughout Sirat-i-Mustaqim Sayyid Ahmad deals with the matters relating to Sufism.” (Sayyid Ahmad: A study of the religious reform movement of Sayyid Ahmad of Rae Bareli, 1969, p. 11) It is ironic Haddad considers a work on tasawwuf to be a foundation of Wahhabism in India. The book was authored before the Hajj journey, and was translated by ‘Abd al-Hayy to Arabic while in the Hijaz.

The Tariqah Muhammadiyya of Sayyid Ahmad Shahid and Shah Isma‘il was amongst the first group of Muslims in India to employ printing to propagate their literature to the uneducated masses (a good book on this is Harlon O Pearson’s Islamic Reform and Revival in Nineteenth-Century India). While Taqwiyat al-Iman and al-Sirat al-Mustaqim are amongst the works that were published by this new printing press, they also printed some of the works of Shah Rafi‘ al-Din and Shah ‘Abd al-Qadir, who were from amongst the “illustrious” sons of Shah Wali Allah. These latter works can hardly be termed Wahhabi, yet they were propagated by Shah Isma‘il and the Muhammadiyyah.

Haddad then goes on to say:

Ismā.īl Dihlawī was the first of the Wahhābīs of India to forward the heresy of imkān kadhib or the possibility of lying (on the part of Allāh Most High!)1

His source for this and further statements is an internet article written against Deobandis. This is an example of his reliance on opponents to understand the beliefs of Shah Isma‘il, which is far from fair and balanced.

and was imitated in this belief by the Deobandīs Shaykhs Ah.mad Rashīd Gangohi (d. 1323/1905) in his Fatawa-e-Rashidia and his apologist Khalīl al-Saharanfūrī (d. 1927) in his al-Barāhīn al-Qāt.i.a

Mawlana Gangohi’s name is “Rashid Ahmad” not “Ahmad Rashid.” Their “satisfactory explanation” (as stated by Sayyid al-Barzanji in his endorsement of the Muhannad) of this position can be found in Shaykh Khalil Ahmad al-Saharanpuri’s answers on this issue in al-Muhannad, as translated here. Ibn al-Humam clearly attributed the view that it is a rational possibility for Allah but impossible contingently to the Ash‘aris and said this is an acceptable view which should not be condemned – for a full translation of this passage see here. Hence, there are clear precedents in the Kalam-writings for this view, that Allah has power over falsehood in the verbalised speech (kalam lafzi), though its occurrence is impossible. This is enough to pass off the claim that this is heretical or even disbelief.

Among others, refutations were published by Mullā S. āh.ib Baghdādī, Mawlānā Fad.l al-Haqq Kayrābādī, and Imām Ah.mad Ridā Khān

Mulla Baghdadi retracted his original statements against Shah Isma‘il after he learnt the truth of the matter. See here. And Fadl Haqq Khayrabadi’s disagreements with Shah Ismail were of an academic nature, not a sectarian one, which is why upon his death, al-Khayrabadi praised him and lamented his death.

The quotes that Gibril Haddad produced from Kalam works to prove the Deobandi view is heresy can easily be understood to be referring to the impossibility of falsehood in the eternal personal speech (kalam nafsi). Furthermore, his following quote reveals the complexity of the matter and his deception:

And in [al-Jurjānī.s 2,300-page] Sharh.al-Mawāqif: “Lying is precluded from Him by agreement [of both Sunnīs and Mu.tazilīs]…. for three reasons according to us [Sunnīs], the first being that lying is a defect and any defect is absolutely impossible for Allāh by Consensus…”

Haddad did not quote the passage in full for the good reason that al-Iji rejects this argument as a Mu‘tazili one, not an Ash‘ari one. There is no need to elaborate, but this should be sufficient to realise the matter is more complicated than picking out a few selective (and in the latter case, decontextualised and deceptive) quotes from some books, which Haddad often does. It should be enough that Ibn al-Humam considered this disagreement a “semantic dispute” and said it is not permitted to condemn the view he attributes to the Ash‘aris.

Ismā.īl Dihlawī is also notorious for affirming in his purported Straight Path. (al-Sirāt al-Mustaqīm) apparently co-authored with his close associate Sayyid Ahmad Barelwī6 that .Becoming absorbed (s.arf-e-himmat) in the Prophet Muhammad “, were it to occur during Salāt, is much worse than to become absorbed in the thought of an ox or adonkey..7 It goes without saying that such a statement constitutes clear disparagement of the Prophet “, which is passible [sic] of death in all four Sunnī Schools.

The above shows Gibril Haddad has not come across or read al-Sirat al-Mustaqim, nor has he read Shah Ismai‘il’s biography from the standard reference source for biographies of Indian ‘ulama Nuzhat al-Khawatir, where it clearly states: “From his writings is the book al-Sirat al-Mustaqim in Persian in which he gathered what is authentic from his spiritual master, the sayyid and the Imam [i.e. Sayyid Ahmad Berelwi], of word and deed, and in it are two chapters from the writing of his fellow [disciple] Shaykh ‘Abd al-Hayy ibn Hibat Allah al-Siddiqi al-Burhanawi.” The book was supervised by Sayyid Ahmad and he was its subject matter but it was not co-authored by him.

Deobandi fatwa website Askimam explains this statement Haddad refers to as follows: That which was written is ‘Sarfe Himmat’. This is terminology used by the Sufis in Tasawwuf. ‘Sarfe Himmat’ in Tasawwuf means that a person’s meditation over a thing becomes so overpowering and predominant that no other thoughts penetrate into the mind and soul. Like a mirror, if a person does not want any person’s reflection to come into it, he covers it with a black cloth and thus no reflection will appear. To contemplate over a figure so that no other thing is contemplated is called ‘Sarfe Himmat’. This has been forbidden in Salaat, that besides Allah, ‘Sarfe Himmat’ should not be done towards anyone. Salaat should purely and solely be for Allah alone. If ‘Sarfe Himmat’ is done towards Rasulullah (Sallallaahu ‘alayhi Wasallam), then the entire Salaat and Ibaadat will be for him. On the other hand, if any thoughts of cows, donkeys, business, etc. come to mind, or a person gets drowned in these thoughts whilst in Salaat, although it is regrettable, there is no fear of them being worshipped.

Ismā.īl Dihlawī wrote Taqwiyat al-Īmān in the wake of his H.ijāz years (1236-1239), at which time he had come under the tutelage of Wahhābī missionaries.

This is merely an assertion without proof. Harlan O. Pearson an academic researcher on Sayyid Ahmad Berelwi’s movement (called Tariqah Muhammadiyyah) wrote while discussing Shah Isma‘il and the Tariqah Muhammadiyyah’s pilgrimage: “The Indian Muhammadi [i.e. the movement of Sayyid Ahmad Shahid and Shah Isma’il] had no apparent connection with the Arabian Wahhabi movement. By performing the pilgrimage, they were performing a basic religious duty in preparation for their later activities.” (Islamic Reform and Revival in Nineteenth Century India, Yoda Press,2008, p. 39) Muhammad Hedayatullah wrote in his thesis on Sayyid Ahmad Berelwi: “his [Sayyid Ahmad’s] relation with the Arabian Wahbabs is not historically proved.” (p. 26)

Shah Isma‘il’s education was nothing more than what he received from his uncles (Shah Rafi‘ al-Din, Shah ‘Abd al-Qadir and Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz) and the spiritual knowledge of Sayyid Ahmad. There are also clear differences between Shah Isma‘il’s views and the views of the Wahhabis: He, for instance, refers to the Ash‘aris and Maturidis as “people of truth” whereas Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab clearly attacks the Ash’aris in his Kitab al-Tawhid; he allows tawassul through the awliya and prophets in Taqwiyat al-Iman itself; and he has discussions on the typology of awliya – see here.

Furthermore, Shah Isma‘il began preaching the importance of tawhid and against the polytheistic practices of his time before his journey to Makkah in 1821. Mir Shahamat Ali wrote in his 1852 biography of Shah Isma‘il that he began preaching before 1819 in “the grand mosque at Delhi, sermons in favour of the unity of God and against idolatry.” (quoted in Pearson, p. 102) In terms of simple chronology, therefore, Haddad’s attempt to link Shah Isma‘il to the Arabian Wahhabis, fails. Also, al-Sirat al-Mustaqim which is supposedly one of the foundational books of the Wahhabi movement in India was published in 1818 several years before the Hajj journey – i.e. before even the remotest contact with the real Wahhabis – and was later translated to Arabic. And it is not certain when the Taqwiyat al-Iman was written, whether before the Hajj journey or after, but it is clear Shah Isma‘il was preaching the message that is contained in that book before the pilgrimage in the very mosque Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz preached and while the latter was alive. It is more probable, therefore, that Shah Isma’il received his understanding of what ills in the Indian Muslim community at that time needed addressing from his uncles and grandfather, not a foreign school of thought.

Haddad then wrote

Ismā.īl Dihlawī was also immediately opposed by a host of Indian Sunnī Ulema beginning with his own family and the Ulema of Delhi such as his two paternal uncles Shāh .Abd al-.Azīz Muh.addith Dihlawī (d. 1239/1834) (the son of Shāh Walī Allāh and one of those considered a Renewer of the thirteenth Hijrī century) and Shāh Raf.ī al-Dīn Muh.addith Dihlawī in his Fatāwā

He provides no evidence for Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz’s opposition, and it is unlikely that this ever happened as he allowed Shah Isma’il to preach his message in the same grand mosque of Delhi in which he preached, and if Taqwiyat al-Iman was authored after the Hajj journey, Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz would probably not have come across it as he died in this period. This is even more obvious with Shah Rafi‘ al-Din as he passed away in 1233 H/1818 AD before Taqwiyat al-Iman was even written! Moreover, the latter’s works were some of the first books printed by the Muhammadi Tariqah under Shah Isma‘il’s guidance, like his Qiyamat Namah (describing the end-times and afterlife) and his Tanbih al-Ghafilin – which were printed in the 1820s (Pearson, 60-1).

Haddad then begins to list what he believes are “aberrations” in the book:

The attribution of shirk to the majority of the Umma in the first lines of Chapter One [p. 42-43] and the statement in Chapter Six [p. 109]: .Presently, all kinds of shirk (both the ancient and news ones) are rampant among Muslims. What the Prophet ” prophesied earlier seems to be coming true now. For instance, the Muslims are treating Prophets, saints, Imam and martyrs, etc. polytheistically..

Shah Isma‘il says shirk is “widespread” (in the English translation, and in the Arabic translation of Abu al-Hasan ‘Ali Nadwi it uses the word sha‘a – Mu’assasat al-Sahafah wa al-Nashr, Lucknow, pp. 25, 113). The earlier (and arguably better) English translation of Taqwiyat al-Iman by Mir Shahamat Ali (in 1852 – available here) uses the word “prevalent” (p. 319).

Contrary to Haddad’s claim, this isn’t a notion Shah Isma’il conjured up out of thin air. Under the commentary of the hadith, “Allah curse the Jews and the Christians, they took the graves of their Prophets as places of prostration,” Sharf al-Din al-Husayn ibn Muhammad al-Tibi (d. 743 H), the earliest commentator of Mishkat al-Masabih, wrote: “The reason for cursing them is either because they would prostrate to the graves of their Prophets out of reverence (ta‘ziman) for them and this is manifest shirk (shirk jali), or because they adopted prayers to Allah Almighty in the burial grounds of the Prophets and prostrated on their graves and turned to their graves while praying, considering this to be worship of Allah while trying to respect the Prophets, and this is hidden shirk (shirk khafi), because it incorporates that which returns to reverence of creation with that which is not permissible.” (quoted in Mirqat al-Mafatih, 2:389).

سبب لعنهم إما لأنهم كانوا يسجدون لقبور أنبيائهم تعظيما لهم ، وذلك هو الشرك الجلي ، وإما لأنهم كانوا يتخذون الصلاة لله تعالى في مدافن الأنبياء ، والسجود على مقابرهم ، والتوجه إلى قبورهم حالة الصلاة ; نظرا منهم بذلك إلى عبادة الله والمبالغة في تعظيم الأنبياء ، وذلك هو الشرك الخفي لتضمنه ما يرجع إلى تعظيم مخلوق فيما لم يؤذن له

Many Muslims today prostrate towards graves and according to the scholars, therefore, this is manifest shirk. See also here, where Mawlana Zafar ‘Uthmani establishes that prostration to other than Allah is shirk as the act of prostration has been specified for Allah.

Moreoever, Abu al-Hasan ‘Ali al-Nadwi quotes Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Dihlawi, the son of Shah Wali Allah and uncle of Shah Isma‘il, in his footnotes to the translation of Taqwiyat al-Iman: “People from this ummah have gone overboard in the matter of seeking help (isitghathah) from the pure souls. Thus, that which the ignorant and the commoners do and what they believe with respect to them of independence in every action, it is without doubt manifest shirk (shirk jali).” (Majmu‘ Fatawa al-Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Aziz, p. 121) (Risalat al-Tawhid, Shaykh Abu al-Hasan al-Nadwi, Mu’assassat al-Sahafati wa al-Nashr, Lucknow, 1974, pp. 67)

قد أفرط الناس من هذه الأمة في باب الاستغاثة بالأرواح الطيبة، فما يفعله الجهلة والعوام وما يعتقدون لها من استقلال في كل عمل فهو من غير شك شرك جلي

The statement that shirk is widespread amongst common Muslims is therefore not in opposition to traditional scholarship (see also Mujaddid Alf Thani’s comment below where he makes the same assessment).

Shah Wali Allah made similar judgements to that of Shah Isma‘il, and this is an example of the latter following the former. Shah Wali Allah said: “One of the greatest diseases in our age is their worship of their shuyukh when [they are] alive or [worship] of their graves when [they are] dead. The ignorant [Muslims] imitate the disbelievers of India [i.e. Hindus] in worshipping their idols” (al-Tafhimat al-Ilahiyyah 2:64) He said: “Look at the superstitious distorters of this age, especially those of them who reside in the borders of the Abode of Islam [i.e. India], what their conceptions of “sainthood” (wilayah) are; for, despite recognising the sainthood of the early saints, they believe the existence of saints in this age is impossible, and they attend the graves and holy places [of the early saints] and are afflicted by all kinds of shirk, bid’ahs and superstitions…until no tribulation amongst the tribulations and no trial amongst the trials contained in the judgement that has come in the authentic hadith, ‘You will surely follow the ways of those who went before you…’ remained but a group from amongst the groups that are Muslims by name plunged into it…” (Al-Fawz al-Kabir, p.26) And: “Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, ‘You will surely follow the ways of those who went before you, hand span for hand span, arm’s length for arm’s length, until if they were to enter the hole of a lizard, you would follow them.’ We said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! The Jews and Christians?’ He said, ‘Then who?’ Al-Bukhari and Muslim transmitted it. Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) spoke the truth for indeed we have seen men amongst the feeble of the Muslims taking the pious as lords besides Allah and adopting their graves as mosques just as the Jews and Christians would do.” (Al-Tafhimat al-Ilahiyyah, 2:134-5)

Shah Wali Allah, therefore, adduces the hadith “the Jews and Christians took the graves of their Prophets as places of prostration” together with “You will surely follow the ways of those who came before you, meaning the Jews and Christians,” as proof that some forms of shirk will become common amongst Muslims.

Haddad, in his attempt to disprove the assertion that shirk will be widespread amongst Muslims, mentions that the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) foretold that he does not fear shirk for this ummah. However, al-‘Asqalani said in his commentary of the hadith Haddad refers to: “Meaning, [I do not fear shirk] for you as a whole, because that will [only] occur from a part, Allah Almighty protect us.”

( مَا أَخَافُ عَلَيْكُمْ أَنْ تُشْرِكُوا ) أَيْ عَلَى مَجْمُوعِكُمْ ، لِأَنَّ ذَلِكَ قَدْ وَقَعَ مِنَ الْبَعْضِ ، أَعَاذَنَا اللَّهُ تَعَالَى

The hadith therefore does not deny that shirk will appear in the ummah. Similar is Haddad’s quote “the ummah is protected from error” as this is about the entire ummah, not individual peoples and communities.

Shaykh Ahmad al-Sirhindi, the founder of the Mujaddidi order, applies verse 12:106 (“And most of them do not believe in Allah unless they are associating (partners with Him)”) to the Muslims in vol. 3 letter 41 of his Maktubat. Here is a partial translation of this section:

“Allah (Glorified and Exalted is He) said: “And most of them do not believe in Allah unless they are associating (partners with Him)” (12:106). That which they do of slaughtering animals sworn for the mashayikh at the graves of the mashayikh to whom the vows were taken, the fuqaha, in the jurisprudential narrations, have also included this in shirk. They were very strict in this subject and included it in the same category as the animals slaughtered for jinn which are prohibited in the Shari‘ah and are included in the parameters of shirk. Such practice must also be avoided due to the traces of shirk being present in it. There are indeed many forms of vows besides this, so for what reason is an animal slaughtered and [consequently] included in the animals slaughtered for jinn, and thereby one becomes like the worshippers of jinn?

“Similar to this is the fasting of women with the intention of the mashayikh and without explanation they invent most of their names from themselves and they fast intending them. They specify particular formalities for every day’s iftar. They also specify days for fasting, and they attach their aims and objectives to that fast, and they seek their needs from them [i.e. the mashayikh] through the medium of this fast, and they believe their needs are fulfilled by them. Such a practice is associating another in the worship of Allah Almighty (ishrak li al-ghayr fi ‘ibadat Allah ta‘ala) and seeking the fulfilment of needs from other [than Allah] through the medium of worshipping him.

“The reprehensibility of this practice should be known. It says in a divine hadith: Allah Almighty said: “Fasting is for Me, and I will give its reward,” meaning, fasting is exclusively for Me and no one else has a share with Me in the fast. Although, associating another with Him (Exalted is He) is not permitted in all ritual worship, specifying fasting is for its importance and to emphasise the negation of associating [others] in it. The statement of some women when the reprehensibility of this practice is exposed, “We fast this fast for Allah Almighty, and we only offer its reward to the souls of the mashayikh,” is a plot from them; for if they were truthful in this, why do they need to specify days for the fast, and specify food and specify various reprehensible formalities at the iftar? And frequently they commit forbidden acts at the time of iftar and break the fast with something unlawful, and they beg for something without need and break their fast with it, and they believe their needs are fulfilled specifically by committing this forbidden practice. This is the very essence of misguidance and the insinuation of the accursed devil. Allah gives protection.” (Al-Maktubat, Arabic translation, 3:87-8)

Thus the charge that .the Muslims are treating Prophets, saints, Imams and martyrs, etc. polytheistically. is supported by inapplicable evidence and is overwhelmingly false

But it is undoubtedly true that people prostrate to them, and this, as stated by al-Tibi and verified by al-‘Uthmani, is manifest shirk, and Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz believed many people have gone overboard in istighathah to a form he refers to as manifest shirk, and Shaykh Ahmad al-Sirhindi lists several ills of Muslim women in Indian society which he believed fell under the parameters of shirk.

The phrase [p. 51]: .whether such a knowledge which is attributed to him, happens to be a personal one or granted by Allāh..This phrase shows that Ismā.īl Dihlawī believes there are two types of knowledges, one that Allāh grants and one that lies beyond His ability to grant . Exalted is Allāh above what they associate to Him!

This translation in the English is not correct. Shah Isma’il’s original statement is about the person’s belief, not what the case is in reality. The Arabic says “whether he believes that he knows this intrinsically or he knows it as a gift from Allah” (sawa’un i’taqada annahu ya’lamu bidhatihi aw ya’taqidu annahu minhatun min Allah) (p. 35) Munawwar Ateeq translated the Urdu of this sentence as: “Whether such person believes he knows this intrinsically or through knowledge granted by Allah.” This sentence is referring to complete and encompassing knowledge of all things, which is an exclusive attribute of Allah, and according to Shah Isma‘il, to attribute it to other than Allah whether it is believed the knowledge is intrinsic or granted, is shirk. Haddad’s criticism here is, therefore, based on a mistaken translation.

The statement in Chapter Four [p. 70-71]: .In case someone recognizes a Prophet. to be as such (having the knowledge of the unknown), such a person becomes a Mushrik.. This mad fatwa makes idolaters of the entire Umma since a Muslim necessarily confesses the Prophet.s ” knowledge of the unknown

In the Arabic translation, it says that which makes a person a mushrik is to attribute to a prophet, soothsayer, or any other being “knowledge by which he knows the ghayb whenever he wishes and that cognizance of future events is facilitated for him and is under his power” (‘ilman ya‘rifu bihi al-ghayb mata sha’a and anna al-ittila‘ ‘ala al-umur al-mustaqbalah maysurun lahu wa tahta tasarrufih). The English translation that GF Haddad bases his review on says something similar: “possess a certain art or knowledge enabling him to have a peep into the Ghaib, to reveal the past incidents and to adumbrate about the futuristic events. ” This is what was described as shirk, as it attributes the “keys of the ghayb,” i.e. knowledge which allows access to all the ghayb, to other than Allah which is in conflict with the Qur’an and which gives an attribute exclusive to Him to others. It is clear that this is what Shah Isma‘il is speaking about as it was written in the context of discussing verse 6:59 which says “the keys to the unseen” belong exclusively to Allah, and the keys to the unseen is the knowledge by which all knowledge of ghayb is unlocked as he explained (see also here). GF Haddad therefore either misread or deliberately misconstrued this passage to impute something to him that he did not say.

Furthermore, the traditional scholars have clearly stated knowledge of ghayb is an exclusive attribute of Allah – and when he bestows it on others, it cannot be termed ghayb in an unqualified sense. For example, Mulla ‘Ali Qari said in his Sharh al-Fiqh al-Akbar: “In sum, knowledge of the ghayb is a quality exclusive to Him (Glorified is He) and there is no path for the servants to it except by revelation from Him and inspiration by means of miracles and charismata or guidance to adducing evidence using signs in that which this is possible. For this [reason], it is mentioned in the verdicts [of the Hanafi jurists] that the statement of a speaker when seeing the halo of the moon i.e. its circle, that there will be rain [in terms of] claiming knowledge of the ghayb and not by a sign, it is disbelief. From the subtle anecdotes is what one of the historians related that an astrologer was crucified and it was said to him: “Did you see this in your astrological readings?” He said: “I saw an elevation, but I did not know that it was over a plank.” Furthermore, know that the Prophets (upon them blessing and peace) do not know the unseen matters (mughayyabat) of things except what Allah has taught them from time to time. The Hanafis have mentioned with clear statements that by believing the Prophet (upon him blessing and peace) knew the unseen one is declared a disbeliever due to conflict with His (Exalted is He) statement: “Say: None in the heavens and earth knows the unseen but Allah.” Such was [mentioned] in al-Musayarah.” (Sharh Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari ‘ala al-Fiqh al-Akbar, Qadimi Kutub Khanah. P. 151)

وبالجملة فالعلم بالغيب أمر تفرد به سبحانه ولا سبيل للعباد إليه إلا بإعلام منه وإلهام بطريق المعجزة أو الكرامة أو الإرشاد إلى الاستدلال بالأمارات فيما يمكن فيه ذلك ولهذا ذكر فى الفتاوى أن قول القائل عند رؤية هالة القمر أي دائرته يكون مطر مدعيا علم الغيب لا بعلامةٍ كفر. ومن اللطائف ما حكاه بعض أرباب الظرائف أن منجما صلب فقيل له هل رأيت هذا في نجمك؟ فقال رأيت رفعة ولكن ما عرفت أنها فوق خشبة.

ثم اعلم أن الأنبياء عليهم الصلاة والسلام لم يعلموا المغيبات من الأشياء إلا ما أعلمهم الله أحيانا ، وذكر الحنفية تصريحا بالتكفير باعتقاد أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم يعلم الغيب لمعارضة قوله تعالى قل لا يعلم من في السماوات والأرض الغيب إلا الله كذا في المسايرة

Haddad says:

The claims in Chapter Four [p. 76] that .The Prophets do not enjoy the distinction of having been awarded the keys to the unseen to the effect that they may have a cognizance of someone.s innermost feelings or could make predictions about whether or not someone is going to be blessed with a child, whether one.s business is going to yield profit or incur a loss, or whether someone is going to emerge victorious in a battle or face a defeat..

Then Haddad goes on to list evidences where the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) did know some of these things. However, in this passage, Shah Isma’il explained the Prophets are not able to know these things independently or of their own volition – and he gave the example of the incident of slander (ifk) where the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) of his own volition could not know the ghayb. The Arabic makes this clear: la yamtazuna ‘an al-nas bi’anna Allaha subhanahu wa ta‘la makkanahum min ‘ilm al-ghayb wa basata lahum fihi fayattali‘un ‘ala khawatir al-nasi mata sha’u (p. 70); likewise, Shahamat ‘Ali’s translation makes this clear: “It is not in their power to divine any mystery they like…” (335) However, this very passage goes on to say, the Prophets may make judgements on these matters which may sometimes concur with reality, and sometimes they may give information about these matters through revelation in which case there is no chance of error. So what is being denied is volitional knowledge of the ghayb, i.e. the keys to the ghayb, not inspired knowledge of it, but this is misrepresented in Haddad’s skewed characterisation of this passage.

The claim in Chapter Four [p. 77] that .The poets, who keep eulogising the Prophet ” by writing panegyric and laudatory poems extolling him to the skies and thereby justifying their uncalled for eloquence under the pretext of a mere exaggeration, is [sic] absolutely incorrect. So long as the Prophet ” did not even allow the young girls to recite verses in his praise, how could it be justifiable for an intellectual poet to verbalise or listen to such verses..

This garbled prose only serves to further illustrate Ismā.īl Dihlawī.s ignorance of the Sīra, of which panegyric and laudatory poetry in praise of the Prophet ” is an integral part.

Shah Isma‘il does not denounce all laudatory poems, but those that are exaggerated like the poetry of the young girls of the Ansar which he refers to. He himself wrote a Persian poem on the praise of the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) called Mathnawi Silk i Nur. Haddad’s reply therefore is gratuitous.

The statement at the end of Chapter Four [p. 78] concerning the h.adīth in al-Bukhārī: .Even though I am the Messenger of Allāh, I swear by Allāh that I do not know what is going to happen to me or to you.: .It implies that the kind of treatment Allāh is going to mete out to His slaves in this world, in their graves, or in the Hereafter is neither known by a Prophet, nor a sage. They neither know about themselves nor about the others.. However, the Ulema said that this h.adīth was abrogated by the Madanī Sūrat al-Fath. which states: &Verily We have granted you a manifest Victory that Allah may forgive you your faults of the past and those to come’ (48:1-2).57 One who does not know the difference between valid rulings and abrogated ones in Islām is not qualified to teach others about the sub-headings of the Law, much less Tawh.īd!

Gibril Haddad did not quote the complete passage from Shah Isma‘il’s Taqwiyat al-Iman where he goes on to say the Prophets and saints were given “brief” (mujmal) knowledge of this (i.e. what will be done to them in the Afterlife) by revelation and inspiration but not “detailed” (mufassal) knowledge, and this is precisely what Hafiz al-‘Asqalani mentioned in the commentary of this hadith (“I do not know what will be done to me”): “It is possible to understand the affirmation in this [statement that he will enter Paradise] as brief knowledge, while the negation [in the other statement that he does not know how he will be treated] with respect to detailed knowledge.”

يَحْتَمِلُ أَنْ يُحْمَلَ الْإِثْبَاتُ فِي ذَلِكَ عَلَى الْعِلْمِ الْمُجْمَلِ ، وَالنَّفْيُ عَلَى الْإِحَاطَةِ مِنْ حَيْثُ التَّفْصِيلِ

So it is possible to maintain that the statement “I do not know how I will be treated” is not abrogated, but is about detailed knowledge. Jam‘ (reconciling apparently conflicting narrations) is superior to tarjih or naskh (negating one for the other). Although, no doubt, the opinion of abrogation was an opinion held by the scholars, it is unfair to blame someone of ignorance when the above explanation of reconciliation is a valid understanding.

The statement in Chapter Three [p. 58]: .We must understand that anyone whether one of the most eminent humanbeings or any of the angels dearest and nearest to Allāh does not carry the status of even a shoe-maker in terms of frivolity and disgrace, while facing the magnificence of the Divinity..

This kind of coarse disparagement of the Prophets and angels is kufr passible [sic] of death according to most of the Salaf

The English translation appears to be embellished. The translation of Shahamat Ali says: “It is certain that every creature, small or great, is lower than a Chamar, in comparison to the Glory of God.” (p. 327) The Arabic says the same: “It should be known with certainty that every creature, whether great or small, it is lower than a cobbler before the greatness and majesty of Allah.” (liyu‘lam yaqinan anna kulla makhluqin kabiran kana aw saghiran huwa adhallu min iskafin amama ‘azmat Allah wa jalalatih). There is no mention of “angels” or “prophets” but of course they are included in this assessment. Haddad’s claim that this statement “lies in blatant contradiction of countless verses of the Glorious Qur.ān extolling the high rank of the Prophets and angels in the Divine Presence” misunderstands the statement. The statement is not about their rank “in the presence of Allah” (‘inda Allah) but in comparison to Allah – and in such a case Shah Ismail’s assessment is certainly correct, as Allah’s glory and greatness is infinite while no matter the greatness of any creature, since it is finite, it equates to nothingness in comparison (any finite number no matter how large or small when divided by infinite equals zero).

In fact with regards to the Prophet’s (sallallahu ‘alayhiwasallam) rank “in the presence of Allah,” Shah Ismail said – “On this basis, our Prophet is the sayyid of the whole world, because, near God, he is higher in dignity [or rank], and firmer in obeying His orders than others.” (Shahamat Ali, 365); and the more recent English tr. Says “He has the greatest and most exalted status with Allah.” (145), and the Arabic: inna nabiyyana sayyidu al-‘alamin, wa manzilatahu ‘inda Allahi fawqa kulli manzilah… This is clear that the earlier quote was regarding comparison with Allah, which is in a context of discussing the stupidity of giving the crown of divinity to other than Allah, and the second quote is regarding status in the divine Presence. GF Haddad did not make this distinction, though he must have read the latter quote which is an illustration of his blind bias.

Shah Isma‘il also authored in Persian Mathnawi Silk i Nur a eulogy on the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam). Mansab Imamat also discusses the exalted station and the perfections of the Prophets which he says are “incomprehensible” to non-Prophets.

Similar to this is the statement in Chapter Five [p. 85] that “He [Allāh] may bring into existence millions of Prophets, saints, jinns, angels, and entities equal to Gabriel and the Prophet Muh.ammad ” in terms of status, merely by uttering a word ‘Be.’”

He said this in the context of discussing the intercession of great men before a king, saying that Allah is not compelled by his fear of losing high-ranking servants to accept their intercession of others, rather it would make no difference to Him if they did not exist and if everybody was of their rank (this view of intercession was common amongst the mushrikun of old, which is why Shah Wali Allah also listed it amongst their heresies in his work al-Fawz al-Kabir). This is in conformity with the hadith of Abu Dharr from al-Nawawi’s Forty: “If the first of you and the last of you and the men of you and the jinn of you were upon the most pious heart of any man from you, that would not increase in My kingdom in the least. If the first of you and the last of you and the men of you and the jinn of you were upon the most wicked heart of any man from you, that would not decrease from My kingdom in the least.” (Muslim) The philosophical challenge to this statement by Fadl Haq Khayrabadi and others, can easily be answered by understanding that a comparison does not necessitate similarity from every perspective (min jami’ al-wujuh), so there is no contradiction of two “lasts” etc.

This is Mu.tazilī belief. Sunnī belief is that Allāh is never for a moment bound by His own Law but is free to place believers in Hell and disbelievers in Paradise if He so wishes, and may do so without the least injustice on His part.

Haddad’s claim here is inaccurate as the view that tathwib al-‘asi (rewarding the disobedient) and ta‘dhib al-muti‘ (punishing the obedient) is rationally impossible is not only the view of the Mu‘tazilis but is shared by the Maturidis. The Maturidis consider it a flaw that Allah treats the obedient in the manner of sinners. His characterisation of “Sunni belief,” therefore, ignores Maturidis.

The statement, found in several places[cf. p. 42, p. 54, p. 141], that to name oneself .Abd al-Rasūl/al-Nabī or Ghulām al-Rasūl/al-Nabī is shirk. As for us let us not only say that we are the slave of the Prophet ” but also, like Qād.ī Yūsuf al-Nabhānī, the slave of his slave.

Only the second reference (p. 54) alludes to this naming being shirk, but not the other two references, and it is the third reference where Shah Isma‘il devotes a section to this subject. In the Arabic translation of the third reference he says, “it is of the utmost disrespect to Allah” (huwa ghayatun fi isa’at al-adab ma‘a Allah)” (p. 152) to call somebody by this name, not that it is “shirk.” Similarly the English of Shahamat Ali says “the use of these terms for others is highly improper and very disrespectful to God.” (363)

Hafiz al-Laknawi said:

Question: Is it permissible to use the names “‘Abd al-Nabi” (bondsman of the prophet) and “‘Abd al-Rasul” (bondsman of the messenger) and “Amat al-Nabi” (bondswoman of the prophet) and “Amat al-Siddiq” (bondswoman of the truthful saint) etc?

Answer: Every name in which the words “‘abd” (bondsman) and “amah” (bondswoman) or their equivalent in any other language is attributed to other than Allah (Exalted is He) is impermissible. ‘Ali al-Qari stated this in Sharh al-Fiqh al-Akbar, and a hadith prohibiting this appears in Sunan Abi Dawud and others.

(Naf’ al-Mufti wa al-Sa’il, p. 170)

“If someone maintains that making a prostration to a creature was permissible in the earlier religions, for instance, the angels prostrated to Ādam and Prophet Jacob # prostrated to Prophet Joseph #and hence there is no harm if we make a prostration to a saint as a token of showing our respect to him. We must remember that such a thing proves and confirms one.s Shirk and thoroughly deprives him of faith”… neither does the prostration of respect necessarily denote shirk

See I’la al Sunan where it shows why it is shirk, and is kufr according to the Hanafi Imams, and why the earlier people’s prostration doesn’t count – as at that time prostration was not specified for Allah.

On the same theme of prostration, the statement in commentary of the .satrap. h.adīth narrated from Qays ibn Sa.d in Abū Dāwūd.s Sunan in which the Prophet ” said: .If you were to pass by my grave, would you prostrate before it?. [Qays] said No. He continued .Therefore, do not do so [while I am alive]!. The English Taqwiya [p. 140] comments:.By this the Prophet ” meant to convey it to the people that the day would come when he ” would pass away and have an eternal sleep in the grave and then he ” would not be worthy of such prostrations.. Apart from its crass disrespect,this statement shows Mu.tazilī-like disbelief in the life of the Prophets in the grave,

The Arabic translation of Taqwiyat al-Iman says: “The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) informed Qays ibn Sa ’d (Allah be pleased with him) that the one whose destination is death and to the grave, will die and be buried, he does not deserve prostration; indeed prostration is for the Ever-Living, Ever-Lasting One, Who does not die.” (wa qad nabbaha Rasul Allah sallallhu ‘alayhi wasallam Qays ibn Sa‘d radiya Allahu ‘anhu ‘ala anna man kana ma’aluhu al-mawta wa masiruhu ila al-qabri, yamutu fayudfanu, la yastahiqq al-sajdah. Inna al-sujud li al-Hayy al-Da’im alladhi la yamut) (p. 151) There is no mention of “an eternal sleep.” This does not contradict Sunni belief, as Sunni belief is that he did die but has a special life in the Barzakh. The earlier English translation of Mir Shahamat Ali (in 1852) from the Urdu says “The Prophet meant, that one day he would die, and return to the dust [note: not that he will become dust]; and could not therefore be worthy of worship.” (p. 363)

Furthermore, the commentators of the hadith said something similar to Shah Isma‘il. Al-Tibi said in his commentary of Mishkat under this hadith: “Meaning, prostrate to the Ever-Living One Who does not die, and Whose Dominion does not end, for you only prostrate to me now out of awe and reverence, for indeed when I am confined to the grave, this will end.” (quoted in Badhl al-Majhud 10:182)

Al-Dhahabī said in the compendium of his Shaykhs, in the entry devoted to his Shaykh Ah.mad ibn .Abd al-Mun.im al-Qazwīnī: .If he [the Prophet “] had allowed them, they would have prostrated to him as a mark of utter veneration and respect, not as a mark of worship, just as the Prophet Yūsuf.s brothers prostrated to Yūsuf #. Similarly, the prostration of the Muslim to the grave of the Prophet ” is for the intention of magnification and reverence. One is not imputed disbelief because of it at all (lā yukaffaru as. lan), but he is being disobedient..68

This is an example of Haddad taking fiqh from a book on biographies. Fiqh should be taken from the books of fiqh, and the Hanafi fuqaha have clearly stated that the prostration of respect is kufr, and as shown above al-Tibi said it is “manifest shirk.”

the “brother” narration is problematic as shown by its documentation

This refers to the following narration: Ahmad transmitted from ‘A’ishah (Allah be pleased with her) that Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was amongst a group of the emigrants and helpers when a camel came and prostrated to him, so his companions said: “O Messenger of Allah! Beasts and trees prostrate to you, and we are more deserving of prostrating to you.” So he said: “Worship your Lord and respect your brother.” The chain of narration is weak, but this did not prevent the commentators of Mishkat from commenting on it:

Mulla ‘Ali Qari said in his commentary of Mishkat under this hadith:“‘Respect your brother,’ i.e. venerate him [i.e. the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him)] with a veneration fitting to him with hearty love and a respect comprising of outward and inward obedience. In this [hadith] is an indication to His statement: ‘It is not [befitting] a man that Allah gives him the Book and wisdom and prophecy, and then he says to the people: Be worshippers of me besides Allah, rather [he will say]: Be faithful servants of the Lord.’ (3:79) and an indication to His statement: ‘I said to them nothing besides what You instructed me with to worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord.’ (5:117) As for the prostration of the camel, it was a rupturing of the norm, occurring by the control of Allah Almighty and His command, so there is no interference from him (Allah bless him and grant him peace) in its action, and the camel is excused since it was commanded by its Lord like the command of Allah to His Angels to prostrate to Adam, and Allah (Glorified and Exalted) is He knows best.”

Al-Tibi said in his commentary of Mishkat: “He said it out of humbleness and lowering himself; meaning, respect the one who is a human being like yourselves and is descended from the loin of your father Adam, and respect him for Allah has honoured him and selected him and sent revelation to him. [The hadith is] similar to His (Exalted is He) statement: ‘Say: Indeed I am only a man like you, revelation has come to me.’ (18:110)”

‘Abd al-Haqq al-Dihlawi said in his commentary of Mishkat: “He meant [by “brother”] his noble self, out of humility, and notification that he is a man like them in the impermissibility of prostration and worship of him.”

[All quoted in Abu al-Hasan ‘Ali Nadwi’s footnotes to his translation of Taqwiyat al-Iman, pp. 148-9]

These commentaries therefore confirm the meaning of this narration is correct, that in terms of his common origin and humanity, he is a brother of people, but deserves greater respect because of what Allah has honoured him with, and Shah Isma‘il conveys this greater respect by comparison with an elder brother who deserves greater respect because of seniority, and similarly the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) deserves greater respect because of being favoured by Allah. The English translation of Shahamat ‘Ali says precisely this: “[the prophets and saints are] all His humble servants and our brothers, the difference is they were made great men by God.” – and this is exactly what al-Tibi said above: “[the Prophet is] one who is a human being like yourselves and is descended from the loin of your father Adam, and respect him for Allah has honoured him and selected him and sent revelation to him.”

These commentaries show that Haddad’s statement: “the sentence ‘“Worship your Lord and respect your brother’” would actually be a Prophetic nas.s. distinguishing between the two types of prostration: the prostration of worship and the prostration of respect” is completely unfounded and baseless.

Finally, Haddad says:

The Tawārīkh-e-.Ajībah (p. 182) states: .In this biography and by his letters it is clearly evident that Mr. Sayyid [Ah.mad] had no intention to wage a war against the British. He thought of their government as his government. Undoubtedly, if the [British] government was against him he would not have received any [financial] aid [from them]. But the government wished to break the strength of the Sikh [rebels]…..It is also a remarkable revision of history to represent Ismā.īl Dihlawī as a reviver of jihād. In reality, he was a rebel bāghī who opposed the jihād against the British declared by the last Mughāl Sultan of India . whom he and his followers considered a mubtadi.! . and supported the British instead.

This statement is full of error, and shows the depth of Haddad’s ignorance and bias.

The last Mughal “sultan” of India was Bahadur Shah who came to power in 1837 several years after the death of Shah Isma‘il. Let alone “revisionist,” Haddad’s “history” is blatantly wrong and ignorant. Shah Isma‘il had a low opinion of the Mughal rulers, but so did Shah Waliullah and others of the family. To characterise him as a baghi illustrates Haddad’s immense ignorance, not only of history but of fiqh. Shah Isma‘il did not oppose any jihad – this is nothing less than fiction and a pure slander. India was at that time Dar al-Harb as clarified by Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz in a well-known fatwa written in 1803 when Shah Isma‘il was in his twenties. Therefore, even assuming that Shah Isma‘il opposed an imaginary Mughal “jihad,” to suggest that this is baghy is inaccurate, as baghy is defined in the Shariah as “rebelling against the true Imam [of the Muslims] without right” (Radd al-Muhtar 6:411) – and the “Imam” is defined as the one whose rulings are executed in the land and he was given allegiance by the nobles of that land (ibid.); if the people give him allegiance but his rule is not executed, he is not the Imam (ibid.). In fact, in early 19th century India, as the Muslims were subjects of the British, to have attacked them while residing in India may have itself been construed as baghy. One of the reasons the historians gave for Sayyid Ahmad avoiding a jihad against the British was that this would only be possible by first creating an Islamic state outside of India, and it would be impermissible while granted their protection (aman).

Kenneth W. Jones wrote: “The ideology of Sayyid Ahmad Barelwi contained one basic difference from the teachings of Shah Wali Ullah and his disciples: Sayyid Ahmad intended to put his beliefs into action through a jihad. He accepted Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz’s fatwa as declaring that British territory was dar-ul-harb and, in accordance with Islamic law, jihad could only be conducted from an area of Islamic control. Consequently Sayyid Ahmad decided to begin his struggle on the north-west frontier of the Sikh Kingdom.” (Socio-religious Reform Movements in India, p. 54)

Regarding Sayyid Ahmad Berelwi’s attitude towards the British, in his early military life he participated in military action against the British and left only because the Nawab of Tonk decided to make peace with the British. Harlan Pearson writes: “Sayyid Ahmad Berelwi (1786 – 1831), the founder of the Tariqah-i-Muhammadiyyah, came to Delhi from his birthplace near Lucknow, the town of Rai Bareli. His father and elder brother [Ishaq] had studied under Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz. In 1806, Sayyid Ahmad Berelwi formally became Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz’s disciple and was initiated simultaneously into three Sufi orders…After a two year sojourn at his home in Rai Bareli, in 1809 Sayyid Ahmad returned to Delhi and from there travelled to Tonk where he joined the army of Nawab Amir Khan, ruler of the state of Tonk. Amir Khan had established his principality in the latter part of the 18th century in Rajputana alongside several Hindu princely states. Prior to 1817, Amir Khan had supported and provided a base for the Pindaris, predatory raiding groups who were formally camp followers of the British. He continued to support the raids of the Pindaris into British territory until, under the terms of a subsidiary alliance with the British in 1817, he was required to disband his troops. Sayyid Ahmad Berelwi then returned to Delhi.” (p. 36)

Nuzhat al-Khawatir says under his biography: “The love of Jihad in the Path of Allah overcame him so he joined the army of the emir, the warrior (mujahid), Nawab Amir Khan and stayed with him for several years. [Sayyid Ahmad] would encourage him towards jihad, and when he saw that he was wasting his time in raids and was content with war-booty (and he knew that he resolved to make peace with the British and Hindus) [an insertion to the original by Abu al-Hasan al-Nadwi], he left him and returned to Dihli.” (p. 900) Similarly Kenneth Jones wrote: “The Nawab of Tonk had made an alliance with the British and this act was unacceptable to Sayyid Ahmad.” (p. 53) For seven years, therefore, Sayyid Ahmad was involved in military activities against the British before he began his reform of the masses.

Although there is no certain knowledge that Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz encouraged the jihad against the Sikhs, his grandson and spiritual successor, Shah Muhammad Ishaq is known to have supported this jihad. Moreover, Shah Ishaq’s son-in-law Nasiruddin was a disciple of Sayyid Ahmad and continued the jihad after his death. Pearson wrote: “By the time Sayyid Ahmad returned to Delhi in 1823, Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz had died, and the Muhammadi [movement] began preparing to wage jihad against the Sikhs of the Punjab. There is no direct evidence that Sayyid Ahmad Brelwi was preaching jihad before his pilgrimage or that any experience in the holy cities of Islam inspired him. However, when he arrived at Bombay, a newspaper reported that he began preaching with a zeal that extended “to nothing less than driving the whole of the Christian unbelievers from this land of the sun.” (Calcutta Journal, 29 September 1823) Although British territories were probably considered Dar al-Harb, the Birtish allowed Muslims to practice their religion freely and provided security. Under such circumstances, armed resistance to the British government could be interpreted as the sin of rebellion rather than the duty of holy war. On the other hand, the Sikhs had prohibited the call to prayer (adhan) for the Punjabi Muslims and had occupied and desecrated mosques in their territories. The practical considerations of a greater chance of success, also a stipulation of Islamic law, undoubtedly was involved in the decision not to fight the British. (pp. 39-40)

Regarding Haddad’s quote from Tawarikh Ajibah (also known as Sawanih Ahmadi) which was written in the 1860s/70s by Muhammad Ja‘far Thanesari (d. 1905), historians generally have not accepted his assessment. The historian Mohammad Yasin wrote: “It is difficult to agree with Muhammad Ja‘far Thanesari, Nawab Siddiq Hasan Khan and Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan that Sayyid Ahmad Shahid did not propose to fight the British …There is no truth in the assertion that Sayyid Ahmad acted as a stooge of the British Government. But it appears certain that the Sayyid considered the British either a lesser evil or unbreakable; either, at least, not worthy of immediate attention or found himself helpless against the might of England…Ghulam Rasul Mehr argues that Sayyid Ahmad considered the British more dangerous than the Sikhs and the statement of the Sayyid is there to support the supposition. It is also trut that Sayyid Ahmad regarded India a Dar al Harb and jihad was not possible while remaining inside the Indhian territires. He, therefore, migrated to the North-West Frontier, which was expected to be more responsive to his mission, to establish a secure centre. (Reading in Indian History, Mohammad Yasin, Atlantic Publishers and Distributers: New Delhi, 1988 – Chapter Five: Sayyid Ahmad Shahid of Rae Bareli, pp. 111-2 – with reference to the extended biographies of Ghulam Rasul Mehr al-Lahori and Abu al-Hasan ‘Ali al-Nadwi). The historian of Sayyid Ahmad, Ghulam Rasul Mehr, criticised Thanesari’s pro-British reading of Sayyid Ahmad’s career, saying it was a product of the political pressures of Thanesari’s time (and likewise Nawab Siddiq Hasan and Sir Ahmad). [note: Hedayatullah in his thesis said Abu al-Hasan ‘Ali al-Nadwi and Ghulam Rasul Mehr the two main Urdu historians of Sayyid Ahmad in the last century were the most objective from the historians of his movement]

Ayesha Jalal, history professor at Tufts University, wrote: “[Shah] Waliullah had nothing to say about the English, who were making inroads in Bengal; rather, he was primarily concerned with the threat posed by the Marathas and the Jats. Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz for his part was distressed by the assertion of Sikh power. [He prayed:] ‘May God sweep them away from this country, they are our greatest enemies, they are like bands of demons.’” (Partisans of Allah: Jihad in South Asia, p. 66) Sayyid Ahmad Shahid and Shah Isma‘il, were, therefore, completely in tune with the historical and scholarly realities of that time which is why they lauched their jihad on the Sikhs. “Shah Waliullah Dehlavi considered the Marathas (Sikhs) the first enemy of Islam in India.” (Reading in Indian History, p. 113) It is even reported that Shah Wali Allah advised the Afghan king Ahmad Shah to fight the Marathas/Sikhs. McGill University thesis “Indian Muslim Attitude to the British in the Early Nineteenth Century” by Mushiru-l-Haq is a case study on Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz’s attitude to the British and he finds his attitude towards the Sikhs was very negative while his attitude to the British was mildly positive. The reason for the different attitudes is mentioned thus: “It was because of the difference between the British policy of penetration [as compared to the] policy of attack and destruction of Marhattas and Sikhs [which is why] Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz has not mentioned the British in the same way in which he has referred to Marhattas and Sikhs.” (p. 5)


The above should be sufficient to overturn most of GF Haddad’s wild claims in his review of Taqwiyat al-Iman and should demonstrate the level of deceit, dishonesty and misinformation in his review. It is unfortunate that his bias/ta’assub led him to believe clear falsehoods from his informants and even invent obvious lies in the hopes of defeating the “Wahhabi” heresy in India. The Islamic way is to remain quiet when ignorant or to hear both sides before making a judgement, and as shown by Haddad’s sources and his conclusions, it is clear he was only interested in one side and not the other which is what led him to make such severe blunders and misjudgements in every page of his review.