Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī Explains Absurd Barelwī Philosophy on Prophetic Attributes

June 20, 2020

Aḥmad Riḍā Khān states:

An English translation follows:

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

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

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

لو أردنا أن نتخذ لهوا لاتخذناه من لدنا إن كنا فعلين

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

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

An Arabic translation follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also see: Barelwī Belief about the Prophet

 


Barelwi Belief About the Prophet

April 22, 2020

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

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

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

How do Barelwis justify such beliefs? By saying:

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

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

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


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)