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

March 17, 2020

Read this and this first.

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

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

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

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

The Allegation in Tamhīd e Īmān

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Quote from Nasīm al-Riyāḍ

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

Maulānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī is not Guilty of Diminishment

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

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

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

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

The Passage in Question

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

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

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

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

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

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

Diminishing or Elevating Prophetic Status?

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

The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) himself said:

أَنْتُم أعلم بأمر دنياكم

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

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

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

He had also said in Barāhīn e Qāṭi‘ah: “Not even the least Muslim will claim likeness with the Pride of the World (upon him blessings) in proximity to Allāh and his lofty perfections.” (Barāhīn e Qāṭi‘ah, p7) Of course “lofty perfections” would include knowledge. That is, in knowledge of things on which perfection and virtue depend, none is more knowledgeable than the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final Points

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

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


Detailed Look at Controversial Passage from Barāhīn e Qāṭi‘ah – A Full Translation of the Text

January 17, 2020

Context

 

‘Abdul Jabbār ‘Umarpūrī (1860 – 1916), a companion of Nadhīr Ḥusayn al-Dehlawī, had written: “To hold the belief with regard to Ḥaḍrat [Rasūlullāh ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam] that wherever Mawlūd Sharīf is recited, he comes there, is shirk. God, exalted is He, [alone] is present in all places. Allāh, glorified is He, does not grant His characteristic to another.” (Quoted in Anwār e Sāṭi‘ah, Barāhīn, p52)

In Anwār e Sāṭi‘ah (authored: 1886), ‘Abdus Samī‘ Rāmpūrī (ca. 1820 – 1900) then wrote a response. His response can be summarised in the following points:

  1. This muftī did not even write durūd after mentioning Ḥaḍrat. Ittibā‘ e Sunnat is completely lacking.
  2. The questioner had asked about poetry in which the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) is addressed in the second person, not about the belief of the Prophet attending the gatherings. The answer addresses something contrary to the question.
  3. In response to the statement, “To hold the belief with regard to Ḥaḍrat [Rasūlullāh ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam] that wherever Mawlūd Sharīf is recited, he comes there, is shirk. God, exalted is He, [alone] is present in all places”, he replies: Subḥānallāh, this reasoning is completely flawed. If the belief was that Allāh too was only present at these gatherings, then you could say this is shirk and creating equality with Allāh. The reality is that Allāh is present and watching in all places (he gives a description of the massiveness of creation, and how creation is so much vaster than just these gatherings of Mīlād), so those who say he attends certain gatherings, how are they guilty of equating him with Allāh?
  4. In response to the statement, “Allāh, glorified is He, does not grant His characteristic to another”, he replies: The belief of Ahlus Sunnah wa ‘l-Jamā‘ah is that the manner and reality in which an attribute is specific to Allāh, it will not be found in another. Being specific means “it is found in him and not found in another.” Being present in all places of the earth (rū’e zamīn par kull jagah mawjūd hojānā) is nothing specific to Allāh.
  5. In Tafsīr Ma‘ālim al-Tanzīl, Risālah Barzakh of Suyūṭī and Sharḥ al-Mawāhib of Zurqānī, it states Malak al-Mawt takes the souls of all living things, jinn and man and all animals, and the world has been made like a small tray before him, and so he takes from here and there. In Mishkāt, it states Malak al-Mawt is at the side of the head of the dying, whether Muslim or Kāfir. In a ḥadīth of Ṭabarānī and Ibn Mandah as recorded in Tadhkirat al-Mawtā of Qāḍī Thanā’ullah it states that Malak al-Mawt told the Prophet that there is no home of a good or bad person but he has his attention towards it, and he sees them day and night, and he knows the young and old better than they know themselves. From these ḥadīths we realise Malak al-Mawt is present everywhere.
  6. Malak al-Mawt is a high-ranking angel. Even Shaytan is present everywhere. Durr e Mukhtār states that Shayṭān stays with humanity at day and his son stays with them at night. Shāmī says in the commentary that Shayṭān stays with all humanity besides those Allāh has saved and writes: “He gave him power to do this just as He gave Malak al-Mawt power over the like of that.”
  7. In the world of tangible bodies, there is the example of the moon and sun, which can be seen everywhere. He says: “Understand that while the [light of the] sun is present in every place, it is present in the lowest heaven. The soul of the Messenger (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) is in the seventh heaven in the ‘illiyyīn. If while there the blessed vision falls on the entire earth or several places…what impossibility or farfetchedness is there?” He then quotes some poetry which describes the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) as a sun whose light envelops the east and west.
  8. He quotes some of the pious who say that if the seeing of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) was concealed from them for the blink of an eye they would not consider themselves to be Muslim.
  9. He then concludes that ḥadīth-scholars and jurists should according to ‘Umarpūrī be even greater mushriks than people who believe the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) attends mawlids, because they affirm for Malak al-Mawt and Shayṭān much more than mere attendance of these gatherings.

(Anwār e Sāṭi‘ah, quoted in Barāhīn e Qāṭi‘ah, p52-7)

Thus it was ‘Umarpūrī who had raised the issue of this belief being shirk, and Rāmpūrī brought the example of Malak al-Mawt and Shayṭān to argue that there is no impossibility of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) having knowledge of the gatherings of mawlid as those who partake in it belief, so how can it be shirk?

 

 

Complete Passage of Barāhīn e Qāṭi‘ah

 

In Barāhīn e Qāṭi‘ah (authored: 1887) Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī (1852 – 1927) then wrote a response to ‘Abdus Samī‘ Rāmpūrī. The following are images of the complete passage from the original work followed by a translation of the entire passage.

[In response to point no. 1 above] There is no doubt that this action is unfortunate [1], but the share of this unfortunateness is full only in the lot of the author [‘Abd al-Samī‘ Rāmpūrī]. In many places of this book [Anwār e Sāṭi‘ah], durūd is not written. In the last line of the khuṭbah of the book in the first page, in three places of the second page, his noble name has been written without durūd. The excuse that this is a failure of the printing press, the same excuse should be accepted for Mawlawī ‘Abdul Jabbār. In short, it is common that whatever the author accuses another of, he himself is polluted with it. It is not known why he is so heedless of his own state.

[In response to point no. 2 above] It has been stated in response to the explanation of the question [2] that the verbal form of addressing was assigned [linguistically] for one present and in attendance. Thus, if the verbal form of addressing is anywhere said, then based on the original literal meaning it will be understood as addressing one in attendance. This is why Mawlawī ‘Abdul Jabbār gave the answer to this question that the verses [of poetry] of address if with this belief, it is shirk, and the angle of the other metaphorical meanings, he did not explain. But God Almighty knows what is the author’s level of understanding! As he regards [the answer] to be against and contrary to the question. To regard the concomitant to be contrary to the linguistically assigned cause and to understand the linguistically intended meaning of a statement to be separate from the statement itself is the author’s [lack of] understanding. The author did something similar in Nūr e Awwal, and the answer was given there.

[In response to point no. 3 above] The belief of the entire Ummah is that the respected Pride of the World (upon him peace) and all creatures, the amount of knowledge Allāh Almighty has granted them, and has taught, to affirm one atom more knowledge than that, is shirk. This is derived from all books of Sharī‘ah. Allāh, exalted is He, said: “With Him are the keys to the Unseen, none but He knows them.” The well-known ruling is found in al-Baḥr al-Rā’iq, ‘Alamgīriyyah, Durr Mukhtār etc. that if someone marries with the testimony of Allāh Almighty and the Pride of the World (upon him peace), he becomes Kāfir, because of believing in ‘ilm al-ghayb for the Pride of the World. [3] Thus, in merely believing in the knowledge of the marriage session, it is written Kāfir. No one has written that if it is the belief that there is equality in quantity and quality with divine knowledge (His majesty be exalted), then is he Kāfir, otherwise not.

However, from the author’s write-up, this is the belief that is understood, because he says that Allāh Almighty knows from the Throne to the ground, and is present [in all places], while the Pride of the World is only present in the gatherings of Mawlūd, so where is equality and shirk? It is clearly evident from this that he does not regard this amount of ‘ilm al-ghayb to be shirk! While in all books mere attendance of the session of marriage has been written as shirk. The author does not even have this much awareness that equality in the wajh al-shabah (basis of similarity) between the mushabbah bihī (thing with which similarity is drawn) and mushabbah (thing which is considered similar) is not necessary; the wajh al-shabah itself is sufficient. [4] Thus, here, affirming equality in [possessing] ‘ilm al-ghayb itself is shirk.

If it is the author’s belief that if any attribute of Allāh Almighty is affirmed in quantity and quality for another then it is shirk and otherwise it is not, then it implies that according to the author the Mushrikīn of the Arabs, who being idolaters is found in categorical texts, were definitely not idolaters (mushrik) because they believed the disposal and knowledge of their false gods to be limited – all areas and regions having a separate god; they would not believe that one disposes in the dominion of another. The books of ḥadīth are a testament to this. Now, the beliefs of the author are themselves corrupt; he will make idolaters of the whole world, because when the common people and ignorant have certainty in such disposal and knowledge for the saints, the author has supported, endorsed and certified the belief of all [of them], and led creation astray. May God Almighty guide him, what fitnah he has caused! What remains is his weak example and senseless words, what answer am I to give and pollute the tongue and pen in responding to it? The author has written something so ignorant that it goes against the entire world.

[In response to point no. 4 above] I say: The belief of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa ‘l-Jamā‘ah is that no character from the characters of Allāh Almighty are found in the slave. Whatever the shadow of His characters He grants, it is not possible for anyone to have more than that. Hearing, seeing, knowledge and disposal are real for Allāh Almighty, and metaphorical for creation. “Nothing is as His likeness,” to the end of the verse. Further, whoever has been given whatever amount of knowledge, power etc., he cannot add to it even to the amount of an atom. The expanse that was given to Shayṭān, as well as Malak al-Mawt, and the extent of the condition upon which the sun and moon were made, they have no power to add to that. More activity will not emerge from them.

Nor is lesser or greater virtue dependent on this fewness or muchness. [5] Hazrat Mūsā, upon him peace, is far higher and superior to Hazrat Khiḍr, upon him peace. In spite of this, he has far less knowledge of unveiling than Hazrat Khiḍr. Further, the amount that Hazrat Khiḍr received, he was not able to have more than that. And despite Hazrat Mūsā being superior, he did not receive it. He could not generate equal knowledge of unveiling to Hazrat Khiḍr who is less virtuous than him. Thus, the form of the expanse of light upon which the sun and moon have been made, and this expanse of knowledge that was given to Malak al-Mawt and Shayṭān, this condition of theirs is known from observation and categorical texts. Now, to draw an analogy of one superior to them, to affirm equal or more than [what is found in] this inferior one, is not the activity of any sane person of knowledge.

First, issues of belief are not analogical such that it would be established by analogy. Rather, they are categorical, they are proven by categorical texts, such that a singular report here is not of benefit. Thus, its affirmation will only be worthy of attention when the author proves it from categorical evidences. And against the whole Ummah, if the belief of creation is being corrupted on account of a corrupt analogy, how can it be worthy of attention?

Second, the opposite is proven in Qur’ān and Ḥadīth, so how can its opposite ever be accepted? In fact, all this speech of the author will be rejected. The Pride of the World, upon him peace, said: “By Allāh, I do not know what will be done to me or to you” [6] Shaykh ‘Abdul Ḥaqq narrated: “I don’t have knowledge of what is behind the wall.” [7] The ruling of the session of marriage has been written in al-Baḥr al-Rā’iq and other books.

Third, if being superior entailed this, then all Muslims, even if fāsiq, and the author himself, are superior to Shayṭān; then the author would affirm by his judgement ‘ilm al-ghayb if not more than at least equal to [what] Shayṭān [was given]. By his own judgement, the author is a great one of accomplished faith, so he would definitely, being superior, be more knowledgeable [in matters of the world – which for him are ‘ilm al-ghayb] than Shayṭān. Allāh forbid [affirming such ‘ilm al-ghayb]! There is amazement at this ignorance of the author, and grief – how far the emergence of such unworthy words are from knowledge and reason.

The outcome is: It ought to be contemplated: Seeing the state of Shayṭān and Malak al-Mawt, affirming encompassing knowledge of the world for the Pride of the World, against categorical texts, without evidence, based purely on corrupt analogy, if not shirk, which part of īmān is it? [8] This expanse has been established for Shayṭān and Malak al-Mawt from texts. Which categorical text is there for the expanse of knowledge [of the world] for the Pride of the World, based on which all texts will be rejected [9], and one shirk established? [10]

Having read the definition of “specific” in Tahdhīb al-Manṭiq, remembering it, the author chose an unrefined belief. However, he, mashā Allāh, is yet very far from understanding. What is specific in the knowledge of Allāh Almighty is that His knowledge is intrinsic (dhātī) and real (ḥaqīqī), the concomitant of which is encompassing all things. The knowledge of all creation is metaphorical and shadowy, in that they are acquired from Allāh Almighty. Thus, because of the blessed soul being in attendance in the highest ‘Illiyyīn, and being superior to Malak al-Mawt, it is never established that his knowledge in these matters [11] are equal to Malak al-Mawt, let alone more. The explanation of this has passed above. Affirming this based on analogy is ignorance, not a trace of knowledge gives allowance for this. In short, this weak verification is purely the author’s ignorance. He may not be involved in shirk but he has opened the road for the world. [12]

[In response to point no. 8 above] Further, the stories of the saints that the author has written, then firstly, these stories are not a legal proof establishing a ruling, especially in the topic of beliefs. Thus, accepting these stories and rejecting the texts is not to be expected even of an ignoramus, let alone a scholar. After accepting [their authenticity], the answer is that Allāh Almighty gave unveiling (kashf) to these saints, so that they have this presence of knowledge. If He granted the Pride of the World (upon him peace) a hundred thousand times more than this, it is possible, but actual establishment of it having been given is [proven] from which text, that this be taken as belief? And in Mawlūd gathering, address of second person be done? Mere possibility will not have any effect in this matter. It must be in actuality, and it being established must be [proven] from text. However, the poor understanding of the author is worthy of a spectacle. He understands nothing.

This discussion is in the situation that anyone holds this belief, affirming intrinsic knowledge for him, just as is the belief of the ignorant. If he recognises that Allāh Almighty making him aware causes him to be in attendance, it is not shirk, but without evidence of Sharī‘ah, holding this belief is not correct, and without evidence, keeping such a belief, entails sin.

[In response to point no. 9 above] Now, it is evident that no ḥadīth-scholar, jurist, or God-fearing person or ṣūfī is mushrik. However, whoever has a belief agreeing with the write-up of the author, will definitely be mushrik. [13] Presenting these passages and reports as proof for his baseless claim is only the deficient understanding of the author; otherwise, there is no evidence for the claim of the author, as is not hidden.

(Barāhīn e Qāṭiah, p52-7)

Now, given this entire context, is there any room to misunderstand what Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī is saying? Keep in mind:

  1. He is responding to Anwār e Sāṭi‘ah in which the topic of discussion is the passage of ‘Umarpūrī, and in particular what is and is not shirk in regard to affirming knowledge of certain gatherings to the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam)
  2. It is Anwār e Sāṭi‘ah that mentions Malak al-Mawt and Shayṭān as examples
  3. Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī says shirk is to affirm non-granted self-generated intrinsic knowledge, no matter what amount – even one gathering. He proves this from the books of Fiqh.
  4. Affirming knowledge based on an analogy of one superior to one inferior can only prove intrinsic knowledge.
  5. Thus, Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī argues Rāmpūrī is aiding idolatrous beliefs found amongst commoners
  6. But even on the basis of this analogy, Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī clarifies that if one’s belief is that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) only has granted knowledge (of specific worldly knowledge that is not proven for him), it is sinful but not shirk
  7. He further says virtue is not dependent on the expanse under discussion – i.e. certain types of worldly knowledge
  8. He clearly says “in these matters” and “this expanse”, specifying those things that are not the basis of virtue

Given this context, the controversial passage (highlighted above in bold) is completely unproblematic and makes complete sense, and is completely free of “blasphemy” or kufr.

[1] Rāmpūrī had described Umarpūrī’s failure to mention durūd as being “unfortunate”

[2] See: Barāhīn, p27

[3] It states in al-Fatāwā al-Bazzāziyyah: “A [man] weds [a woman] without witnesses, saying: ‘I make the Messenger of Allāh and Angels witness’, he has become a Kāfir, because he believes that the Messenger and Angel know the Ghayb, as distinguished from his saying: ‘I make the angel on the left shoulder and the angel on the right shoulder witness’, he would not become Kāfir, because they are aware [of that].” (al-Fatāwā al-Bazzāziyyah, 6:325) In al-Muḥīṭ al-Burhānī (Idārat al-Qur’ān, 7:407), the same mas’alah is found ending with: “because they are aware of that as they are not absent from him.”

[4] These are the basic parts of a simile (tashbīh). In other words, the shirk that is established on account of affirming ‘ilm al-ghayb does not need to be because of complete equality in the basis of similarity (in this case, ‘ilm al-ghayb) between the mushabbah bihī (in this case, the Prophet) and the mushabbah (in this case, Allāh), but just the fact of having that quality (i.e. ‘ilm al-ghayb, which is knowledge to which a creation has no access) is sufficient.

[5] Here, the author makes it clear that the expanse that is being spoken of is in areas that have absolutely no involvement in virtue.

[6] He was told to say this in Qur’ān (46:9), and it is reported from him in Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī. This would mean, according to the author, that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) does not have detailed knowledge of what will be done to him in future, though he of course has the basic (non-detailed) knowledge of his salvation and success. Or it means, he does not know what will happen to him in this world, while in the next world he is of course aware of his own salvation.

[7] He reported this in Ashi‘iat al-Lam‘āt in a context of adducing this narration as proof, without commenting on it being authentic or otherwise. This is where the author is quoting from.

[8] Given the context, it should be clear what is meant by this statement. From such corrupt analogy (that goes against categorical evidence), only self-generated or intrinsic knowledge of ghayb can be affirmed. And this is of course shirk.

[9] Meaning, the texts of Qur’ān, Ḥadīth and Fiqh that disprove the Prophet has encompassing worldly knowledge.

[10] The meaning of this rhetorical question is that there are no categorical texts which affirm encompassing worldly knowledge for the Prophet, so to affirm such knowledge without evidence is to affirm intrinsic, non-granted knowledge, for him – and this is shirk.

[11] It is clear by saying “in these matters” he means those things Rāmpūrī pointed out i.e. knowing the activities of all people on a day-to-day basis. Malak al-Mawt has more awareness of this type of knowledge than the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), as Malak al-Mawt is more involved in these things than the Prophet. After referring to the hadith “You are more aware of the affairs of your world“, Qāḍī ‘Iyāḍ makes the general point:

فمثل هذا وأشباهه من أمور الدنيا التي لا مدخل فيها لعلم ديانة، ولا اعتقادها، ولا تعليمها يجوز عليه فيها ما ذكرناه.. إذ ليس في هذا كله نقيصة ولا محطة، وإنما هي أمور اعتيادية يعرفها من جربها وجعلها همه. وشغل نفسه بها والنبي صلى الله عليه وسلم مشحون القلب بمعرفة الربوبية، ملآن الجوانح بعلوم الشريعة، قصيد البال بمصالح الأمة الدينية والدنيوية. ولكن هذا إنما يكون في بعض الأمور ويجوز في النادر. وفيما سبيله التدقيق في حراسة الدنيا واستثمارها، لا في الكثير المؤذن بالبله والغفلة.

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

[12] As he has given concession for them to believe the Prophet has non-granted knowledge, self-generating in him.

[13] Meaning, the person who believes in the Prophet’s knowledge of things of the world proceeding only from false analogy – as this can only prove intrinsic knowledge, which is shirk.


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

January 8, 2020

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

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

A translation is as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(al-Nibrās, p739-40)


‘Allāmah Barzanjī on ‘Ilm al-Ghayb – A Response to Munawwar Ateeq Rizvi

January 6, 2020

‘Allāmah Sayyid Aḥmad al-Barzanjī has two treatises refuting the belief [famously held by Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī] that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) was bestowed knowledge of literally every single thing in creation up to the Day of Judgement. The first treatise is available as a manuscript, and was written in 1322 H, called Risālah fī ‘Ilm al-Ghayb (available here) and the second the famous Ghāyat al-Ma’mūl written some time after 1324 H (available here; see also here). To cast doubt on the authorship of the second treatise, Munawwar Ateeq Rizvi suggests there is a contradiction between the two treatises, and in doing so, quotes Sayyid Barzanjī’s first treatise deceptively (see, for what he says: p28 here).

In fact, in both treatises, Sayyid Barzanjī says the view that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) was given ‘ilm jamī‘ mā kāna wa mā yakūn is bāṭil and an unacceptable view.

The full quote, after mentioning that some late scholars like Ibrāhīm al-Bājūrī held this incorrect view*, is as follows:

فما تقول في قول هؤلاء؟ فالجواب الذي أقوله: أن هذا القول خلاف  التحقيق ودعوى بلا دليل وهجوم فى العلم بلا مستند، بل مخالف ومبارز لصريح الآيات والأحاديث وكلام أئمة الدين الذين عليهم التعويل في مثل هذا المقام المهم كما تقدم بيان كثير منه، وقد قال الله تعالى: ولا تقف ما ليس لك به علم، إن السمع والبصر والفؤاد كل أولاؤك كان عنه مسؤولا، ومع هذا لا يلزم من قولهم المذكور كفر ولا بدعة لأنه مبني منهم على تأويل تلك الآيات والأحاديث كما هو الظاهر اللائق بشأنهم

“What do you say about the view of these [scholars]? The answer that I say is that this view is against verification and is a claim without [proper] evidence and is an attack on [religious] knowledge without basis; in fact, it is in conflict and opposition to clear verses and ḥadīths and the statement of the imāms on whom is dependence in such an important topic, just as the presentation of much of it has passed. Allāh, exalted is He, has said: ‘Do not pursue what you have no knowledge of, indeed th e hearing, sight and heart – all of them will be questioned about.’ But despite this, the aforementioned view of theirs does not necessitate [passing a judgement of] kufr or bid‘ah [on them] because it is based on them having made ta’wīl in those verses and ḥadīths, as is evident and suitable to their position.”

Note: He also refers to this view of some late scholars in Ghāyat al-Ma’mūl, p81-2, and says the same – that it is not a followable position.

The parts in bold are significant passages that Munawwar did not reveal to his readers.

Sayyid Barzanjī is not saying that the misguided view he describes is not itself kufr or bid‘ah – how can it not be kufr or bid‘ah when it opposes clear texts of Qur’ān and ḥadīth, and opposes the statements of the imāms that are depended on?! But that the individual scholars of the past who held this view will not be called mubtadi‘ or kāfir because it was based on an error of judgement, and a mistaken ta’wīl. Ibrāhīm al-Bājūrī and his likes would fall in this category.

But when a person is adamant on such a position, even after the clear evidence of the truth opposing it comes to light, then it will definitely amount to kufr or bid‘ah. Aḥmad Riḍā Khān falls in the latter category.

* As follows:

فإن قلت: قد قال بعض المتأخرين ممن قرب عصره أن علمه صلى الله عليه وسلم محيط بجميع المعلومات حتى المغيبات الخمس، منهم العلامة الباجوري فى حاشيته على سلم المنطق المنظوم فإنه بعد أن نقل اختلاف علماء عصره في ذلك قال: والتحقيق الذي نعتقده أنه صلى الله عليه وسلم لم يفارق الدنيا حتى أفاض الله عليه علم الأشياء كلها لكن لا كعلم الله، أي: الفرق بين علمه تعالى وعلمه صلى الله عليه وسلم على تسليم هذا أن علمه تعالى محيط بالأشياء كلها أزلا وأبدا إجمالا وتفصيلا ولا يشغله حضور معلوم في علمه عن حضور معلوم آخر، وأن علمه صلى الله عليه وسلم مع كونه حادثا ليس بالوجه المذكور

See for earlier refutations of Munawwar: here, here, here, here.


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.

 

 


Awjaz al-Masālik Refutes Belief in Ḥāḍir Nāẓir

November 23, 2019

In the widely-acclaimed Arabic commentary of Imām Mālik’s Muwaṭṭa’, Awjaz al-Masālik (2:227), Shaykh Muḥammad Zakariyyā al-Kāndhlewī provides the different possible explanations from the classical scholars for addressing the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) in the second person in the tashahhud, and then says:

“Perhaps you have realised from all of this that it is not correct to argue from the wording of tashahhud that he (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) is present in all places, or that calling him is general to every place, as some of the innovators of this time suppose. My deceased father, Allāh illuminate his resting place, has briefly spoken on this in a brief treatise he called Mas’alat ‘Ilm al-Ghayb; and the teacher of our teachers, the Muḥaddith al-Gangohī, Allāh give coolness to his resting place, has stated this in his works. Details on this are found in them and in al-Barāhīn al-Qāṭi‘ah. And Allāh guides to guidance.”


Mufti Taqi Usmani’s Critical Review of Mafahim Yajibu an Tusahhah

October 19, 2019

In a recently published collection of Muftī Taqī al-‘Uthmānī’s Arabic articles, under the title Maqālāt al-‘Uthmānī, an article reviewing Shaykh Muḥammad ‘Alawī al-Mālikī’s Mafāhīm Yajibu an Tuṣaḥḥaḥ has been included. The article was originally written in the 1980s and then published in the al-Balāgh journal with an explanatory note in the mid-1990s. (The review article is translated below.)

As an introduction to the review, Muftī Taqī al-‘Uthmānī writes:

The book Mafāhīm Yajibu an Tuṣaḥḥaḥ by Shaykh Muḥammad al-‘Alawī al-Mālikī has become a subject of debate and disagreement in some academic circles at the present time. The debate became more intense and argumentations increased upon the publication of its Urdu translation. My endorsement was something of an evidence and argument for some and a cause of doubts and misunderstandings for others. Thus, I felt it best to publish it prefaced with this explanatory introduction to clarify the matter and remove the veil from the reality of the issue.

It is known that the author of this book Shaykh Muḥammad al-‘Alawī al-Mālikī is the son of Shaykh Sayyid al-‘Alawī, who was from the notables amongst the great scholars of Makkah al-Mukarramah. He had connections and links with the scholars of India and Pakistan, amongst whom were my respected father Muftī Muḥammad Shafī‘ and Shaykh Muḥammad Yūsuf al-Bannūrī (Allāh have mercy on them). Because of these links, his son spent some time in Pakistan acquiring the religious sciences at the hands of these scholars. Thus, studying with both my respected father and Shaykh al-Bannūrī (Allāh have mercy on them) was decreed for him. In that period, some meetings and visits occurred between myself and him which had ended with his return to Saudi Arabia, after which there was no communication between us for an extended period.

Some years ago, I unexpectedly received a phone call from him in which he informed me that he is coming to Karachi, on the route to returning to Saudi Arabic from Indonesia, only to visit me for an important task of his. He came to the Dār al-‘Ulūm in the company of the respected Shaykh ‘Abd al-Ḥafīẓ al-Makkī (Allāh preserve him), and he informed me that he wrote a book called Mafāhīm Yajibu an Tuṣaḥḥaḥ to clarify and verify serious issues that had become areas of harshness and extremism amongst some scholars and that he requested from me and my respected brother Muftī Muḥammad Rafī‘ al-‘Uthmānī (Allāh preserve him) a written endorsement of it.

It happened that I was at that time very busy, and I had plans to travel the next day. I apologised to him explaining that these obligations do not allow me to read it such that I can fulfil its due in giving an endorsement. He presented to me the endorsements of some Arab and Pakistani scholars certifying the book and praising it greatly. He asked me to do one of two things, explaining that doing either of them will not take up much time: signing one of those write-ups, or writing down some words to certify the book and agreeing with it based on those endorsements. I responded by apologising a second time, saying that I respect and revere these scholars, but endorsement is a trust and it is not allowed for me to express a positive opinion of the book without reading it and having knowledge of its contents. He agreed to this and insisted that I spare some time to take a glance at the book and then endorse it. In response to his insistence, I studied his important discussions despite the opportunities to doing so being limited. I discovered in it correct matters that deserve praise and support, just as some criticisms of it surfaced to me. I called him by phone informing him that I cannot endorse the book and certify it completely since some criticisms and objections to it surfaced to me while studying it. He asked me to include those criticisms in my endorsement. I said this would only be possible if you include my endorsement in its entirety in your book without any cutting or editing. He agreed to this. So I wrote an article in which I tried to explain both dimensions of the book: its positives and the criticisms on it. My respected brother Shaykh Muftī Muḥammad Rafī al-‘Uthmānī studied those discussions himself and held the same opinion as myself on the book and signed the same [review] article. We sent over the article to the respected author. I remained waiting for it to be published in the next edition of his book, but he, as far as I know, did not publish it yet despite its continuous publication.

It is worth mentioning that I wrote this endorsement quickly and while having many obligations and sufficed in it with brief pointers, and it was not my intent at that point to comment on every part of the book. Thus, it would not be farfetched that there are other places of the book that can be critiqued or objected to besides what I have mentioned in this article. Allāh (Glorified is He) gives direction.

Muḥammad Taqī al-‘Uthmānī

(Maqālāt al-‘Uthmānī, p. 76-8)

A translation of the review is as follows:

All praise belongs to Allāh, Lord of the Worlds, and blessings and peace be upon our leader and our master Muḥammad, the trustworthy prophet, and on his progeny and all his companions, and on all who follow them in excellence to the Day of Recompense.

To proceed:

The noble brother, the respected scholar, the researcher, Shaykh Sayyid Muḥammad al-‘Alawī al-Mālikī (Allāh preserve him and maintain him) requested from us that I offer to him my opinion on his book Mafāhīm Yajibu an Tuṣaḥḥaḥ. This was only because of his humbleness before Allāh and his love for knowledge and its seekers and his search for truth and accuracy as he is from a learned and noble family, more esteemed than being in need of praise from the likes of us for their works. His father (Allāh have mercy on him) is recognised in the Islāmic world for his knowledge, virtue, scrupulousness and piety. And indeed he, by Allāh’s grace, is an excellent successor of an excellent predecessor. However, it is a privilege for us to write these lines in obedience to his command, and hoping for his supplications, and expressing the happiness and pleasure that overcame us from most of his discussions, and what occurred to us of criticisms in some other parts.

The topics that the author discussed in this book are dangerous topics, in which excess and negligence have appeared [amongst the Muslims] that has divided the word of the Muslims and has caused disunity and strife amongst them from which every believing heart would be hurt. Rarely would it be found that someone assesses these issues with balance and justice, and puts everything in its place, walking the path of fairness, and avoiding excess and negligence.

Many such issues are secondary, theoretical matters and not the basis of faith, and not a criterion between Islām and disbelief. On the contrary, some of them will not be questioned about in the grave nor at the resurrection nor the reckoning, and if a man were not to know of them for his entire life, that will not diminish his religion and faith the weight of a mustard seed – for example, the reality and nature of the intermediary life, and other such purely theoretical and philosophical matters. However, it is very unfortunate that when discussion and argumentation on these matters increased, these issues came to be like the primary objectives of religion or from the foundational creeds of Islām. Hence, some people displayed extremism in such matters, accusing those who oppose their view of disbelief, polytheism and deviance. This narrow mindset is often forgiving of the destructive currents attacking the foundations of Islām, but is avid over these secondary theoretical matters more than its avidness in tackling pure apostasy, absolute lawlessness, open profligacy and abominations imported from the disbelievers and outsiders.

Our brother, ‘Allāmah Sayyid Muḥammad al-‘Alawi al-Maliki (Allāh protect him), spoke regarding this narrow mentality with guided speech, and established that those who believe in what is necessarily known to be from religion may not be anathematised because of his preference of some views on which there are disagreements amongst the scholars of Islām, both past and present.

Then he spoke about some of these secondary issues on which disagreement occurred amongst the Muslims, and some of them attacked others because of them with declarations of disbelief and deviance, like the issue of tawassul in supplication, and travelling to visit the grave of the Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace), and tabarruk (taking blessings) from the relics of the prophets and companions and pious, and the reality of prophethood, humanity and the intermediary life. The position that he preferred in these matters is a safe position supported by bright proofs from the Book and Sunnah and the actions of the companions and successors and pious predecessors. He proved with clear proofs that one who allows tawassul in supplication and tabarruk from the relics of the prophets and pious or he travels to visit the grave of the Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) and believes it is from the greatest of rewards, or believes in the life of the prophets in the graves with an intermediary life which exceeds the intermediary life attained by others, he has not acquired any sin, let alone having committed polytheism or disbelief, since all of these are established by evidences of the Qur’ān and Sunnah and the inherited practice of the pious predecessors and the sayings of the majority of the firmly grounded scholars in every age.

Similarly, the author spoke about the Ash‘arīs and their method of interpreting the divine attributes. There is no doubt that the safest position in this is what the ḥadīth-masters have expressed in their statement: “Pass them over without how,” but figurative interpretation is an approach reached by the ijtihād of the Ash‘arīs to preserve Allāh’s transcendence and oppose assimilation, and nothing led them to this but their strong adherence to the belief of tawḥīd and their avoidance of any trace of corporealism, and many of the great scholars of the past chose this path, whose excellence none but an ignoramus or obstinate person will dispute. So how is it possible to accuse the Ash‘arīs of disbelief and deviance? And expel them from the fold of Ahl al-Sunnah and put them in the category of the Mu‘tazila and Jahmiyya?! Allāh protect us from this!

How wonderful is what our brother, the author, said in this respect: “Is it not enough for the opponent to say that they (Allāh have mercy on them) did ijtihād and erred in the interpretation of the attributes, and it would have been better if they did not tread this path, instead of accusing them of deviance and becoming annoyed at those who consider them from the Ahl al-Sunnah?” (p.39)

This methodology which the author adopted in these matters is a balanced methodology which if the Muslims chose in their secondary disagreements with complete openness of heart, many of the knots would be untied and many of the efforts which the enemies are undertaking to divide Muslims will fail.

Now, it is necessary to mention the criticisms which came to our minds when reading this book. This stems only from fulfilling the obligation of love and goodwill for the sake of Allāh, and obedience to the command of the author himself. They are as follows:

    1. The topics which the author (Allāh preserve him) discussed are dangerous topics, which have become very sensitive, and the excess and negligence that have occurred in them have occurred, and renovating one part may spoil another part, and focusing on one aspect may sacrifice the right of another aspect. So, it is necessary on one speaking about these issues to take extreme precaution, and keep in mind both sides, and be on guard that anybody misuse his words for falsehood.

Since this book is for the purpose of refuting the extremism of anathematising the Muslims and accusing them of polytheism due to venerating and loving the noble Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) and the saints and pious, it is natural that there will not be a detailed refutation of those who are extreme in their veneration to such a degree of extremism that is prohibited in the Book and Sunnah and by the scholars of the Sharī‘ah in every age and place, but despite this, it is necessary, as far as I am concerned, in view of the seriousness of the topic, that this side is also touched on, even if briefly, so that those who transgress the bounds in this veneration to what, at the very least, leads to suspecting polytheism is refuted.

    1. We found in some parts of the book brevity in some important issues which may be misunderstood by some people, so they may argue from that something that was not originally meant, and exploit it to support some false beliefs. From them is the issue of ‘ilm al-ghayb as the author (Allāh preserve him) quickly passed over it and mentioned that ‘ilm al-ghayb is for Allāh (Glorified and Exalted is He) and then said after this: “It is established that Allāh Most High taught His Prophet from the ghayb what He taught him, and gave him what he gave him.” (p.91) This speech is true, and is meant the plentiful news of the ghayb which Allāh (Glorified and Exalted is He) revealed to His Noble Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace). However, some people don’t stop at attributing these news to him (Allāh bless him and grant him peace), but say clearly that he (upon him peace) is knower of the ghayb with an exhaustive knowledge of all that was and will be to the establishment of the Hour, so we fear that this general statement will leave the possibility of this false interpretation which the scholars of Ahl al-Sunnah have been refuting for a long time.
    1. Similarly the author said about our Noble Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) that “he is alive in the two abodes, with constant attention towards his ummah, freely-disposing by Allāh’s will in their affairs, aware of their conditions, the blessings of blessers from his ummah being shown to him and their salutations being conveyed to him despite their abundance.” It is clear he does not mean by disposition complete absolute disposition, nor by him being aware of their conditions encompassing knowledge of all particulars, as this is baseless and not from the beliefs of Ahl al-Sunnah. He only intended some particular activities that are established specifically, as is clear from his giving the example of blessings and peace being shown to him and his response to them. But we fear that this expression suggests the opposite of this intent, and will be misused by some extremists from the other side.
    1. The author did brilliantly as we previously indicated in his precaution in the matter of anathematisation of a Muslim, so a Muslim is not be anathematised as long as there is a sound interpretation for his speech or an interpretation that does not necessitate anathematisation at the least. However, anathematisation is one thing and preventing a person from using baseless words or suggestive words is another thing. Precaution in anathematising is withholding from it as long as there is an escape from it, but precaution in the second matter is preventing the likes of these words absolutely.

From this is the statement of the author: “The speaker saying ‘O Prophet of Allāh cure me and repay my debt,’ if it were supposed that one said this, he only meant: ‘Intercede for my cure and pray for the repayment of my debt and turn to Allāh in my affair.’ Thus, they are not asking from him except what Allāh has made them capable of and given them control over of supplication and intercession…and thus such an attribution in the speech of people is from the [rhetorical style of] majāz ‘aqlī (metaphor).” (p.95) This is a good interpretation to prevent anathematisation which is from the aspect of holding a good opinion of believers. However, good opinion only arises in one who does not deny this interpretation of his speech. As for the one who does not himself approve of this interpretation as is a reality in some people as far as I am aware, how can his speech be interpreted in a way he himself does not approve?

Furthermore, although such interpretation is sufficient in preventing anathematisation of the speaker, should such words be encouraged? Never! Rather, this should be forbidden to prevent ambiguity and resemblance [with polytheism] at the very least, as the Messenger of Allāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) forbade the word “my slave” for a bondman due to it being suggestive [of polytheism]. Therefore, it is necessary according to me for those who seek interpretations for these speakers to state clearly that it is forbidden so that this interpretation does not encourage them to use such suggestive words, for indeed “the one who grazes around the borders, almost falls in it”. The same is said about tawassul in the form of a vocation, and of the unrestricted usage of “reliever of distresses” (mufarrij al-kurubāt) and “fulfiller of needs” (qāḍī al-ḥājāt) for other than Allāh (Glorified and Exalted is He).

    1. The author mentioned that bid‘ah divides into two categories: good and evil, disapproving of the latter and not the first. This division is correct with respect to the linguistic meaning of the word bid‘ah, and in this sense, it was used by al-Fārūq al-A‘ẓam when he said : “What a brilliant bid‘ah this is!” As for bid‘ah in its technical sense, it is only evil, and in this sense Allāh’s Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) said: “Every bid‘ah is misguidance” as narrated by Muslim.
    1. The author (Allāh preserve him) was successful in describing the prophetic distinctions when he said: “Although the prophets are human beings who eat and drink…and are subject to the temporary states which overcome human beings of weakness, old age and death, but they are distinguished by special characteristics and are characterised by lofty and magnificent attributes which are with respect to them from the most necessary of necessities…” (p.127)

Then he mentioned a number of these special characteristics, especially the special characteristics of the Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace), so no one can claim that he (upon him blessing and peace) is equal to other than him in attributes and states – protection is from Allāh! The truth is that his (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) special characteristics are beyond what we are able to comprehend, but we believe that the Messenger of Allāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) is more esteemed than us needing [to use] weak narrations to establish his distinctions, for his distinctions that are established in the Qur’ān and sound Sunnah are more in number, higher in status and stronger in affecting the hearts than the distinctions that are mentioned in some weak narrations like what is narrated that he had no shadow in the sunlight or moonlight, as it is a weak narration according the majority of the scholars and ḥadīth-masters.

    1. The author (Allāh protect him) said: “Gathering for the purpose of the noble prophetic birth is nothing but a customary practice, and is not at all part of worship, and this is what we believe and take as our religion before Allāh Most High.” Then he said: “We announce that specifying one night besides another for this gathering is the greatest estrangement from the Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace).”

There is no doubt that commemorating the Noble Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) and describing his biography is from the greatest of blessings and the most virtuous of fortunes when it is not restricted to a day or date, nor is the belief of worship associated with it in gathering on a particular day in a particular form. Thus, gathering to commemorate the Messenger of Allāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) with these conditions is in essence permissible, not deserving of condemnation or blame.

However, there is another approach adopted by many verifying and scrupulous scholars, which is that this gathering, although permissible in itself, many people believe it is from the objective acts of worship or from the religious obligations, and they specify for it specific days, along with what some of them mix with it of false beliefs and impermissible practices. Moreover, it is difficult for the general people to observe the subtle differences between custom and worship. Hence, if these scholars, by observing these matters, the importance of which cannot be denied, chose to prevent such gatherings, observing the principle of “blocking the means,” and recognising that repelling harms is favoured over attaining benefit, then they are holding firm to proofs of the Sharī‘ah, and thus do not deserve condemnation or blame. The course in these matters is like the course in matters which are open to differences in ijtihād, every man encouraging and giving fatwā according to what he believes to be true, and seeks Allāh’s reward according to it, and at the same time not shooting the arrows of criticism at another scholar who holds an opposing view.

In sum, the respected scholar, the researcher, Sayyid Muḥammad ‘Alawi al-Maliki (Allāh Almighty preserve him and benefit by him Islām and the Muslims) despite some of these criticisms, has assessed in this book many issues which were misunderstood by some people, and offered their correct understandings and their proofs from the Book and Sunnah. I wish that his book is studied with the eye of fairness and the spirit of mutual understanding, not with the objective of argumentation and quarrelling. I ask Allāh Most High to enable us and all Muslims to stand with justice as witnesses to Allāh even against ourselves. Verily, He Most High is Near, Ever-Responding to callers. May Allāh Most High bless our master and our leader, Muḥammad, and his progeny and all his companions.

Muḥammad Taqī al-‘Uthmāni, servant of the students of Dar al-‘Ulūm Karāchī

Muftī Muḥammad Rafī‘ al-‘Uthmāni, headmaster of Dar al-‘Ulūm Karāchī

(Maqālāt al-‘Uthmānī, p. 79-86)