Imkān al-Kidhb and the Arab Scholars

December 31, 2018

In al-Muhannad ‘ala l-Mufannad, a work completed in Shawwāl of 1325 AH (1907 CE), ‘Allāmah Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī described the beliefs of the ‘Ulamā’ of Deoband in matters that they were alleged to have parted from the Ahl al-Sunnah. The work comprises of 26 questions and answers.

He discusses the topic of “imkān al-kidhb” under questions 23, 24 and 25. Questions 24 and 25 are particularly relevant to the subject, a translation of which is produced below:

Question Twenty-Four

Do you believe in the possibility of the occurrence of falsehood in a statement from the Speech of the Master (Great and Glorious is His Transcendence). If not, what then is your opinion?

Answer

We and our elders (Allah Most High have mercy on them) declare and are convinced that all speech that issued from the Creator (Great and Glorious is He) or will issue from Him is absolutely truthful, and it is certain that it concurs with reality. Undoubtedly, there is no trace of falsehood in any part of His (Exalted is He) Speech, nor any doubt about [the absence of] contravening reality [in His Speech]. Whoever believes contrary to this or conceives of a lie in any part of His Speech is a disbeliever, apostate and heretic, and does not have even a trace of faith.

Question Twenty-Five

Have you ascribed the view of “imkān al-kadhib” (the possibility of lying) to some of the Ash‘arīs? If so, what is meant by this? And do you have a proof-text for this view from the reliable scholars? Explain the matter to us as it is.

Answer

This began as a dispute between us and the Indian logicians and innovators about the ability of the Creator (Transcendent is He) to act contrary to what He promised, informed, intended, etc. They said that acting contrary to these things is negated from Allah’s Ancient Power (qudrah qadīmah), hypothetically impossible (mustaḥīl ‘aqlan), impossible to exist within His ability, and it is necessary for Him [to act] in accordance with His promise, report, intent and knowledge.

We said: Such things are certainly within His ability but their occurrence (wuqū‘) is not possible according to the Ahl al-Sunnah wa l-Jamā‘ah, namely the Ash‘ārīs and Māturīdīs, textually and logically according to the Māturīdīs, and only textually according to the Ash‘arīs.

They objected that if it were possible that these things are included within the Power, it would entail the possibility of falsehood and this is certainly not in His ability and is intrinsically impossible (mustaḥīl dhātan).

We responded using a variety of answers from the kalām-scholars, of which was:

Even if the concomitance of the possibility of falsehood in acting contrary to the promise, reports etc. in His ability is accepted, it too is not intrinsically impossible, rather, like oppression and impudence, it is intrinsically within the Power, but it is textually and logically impossible, or just textually, as several imāms have espoused.

When they saw these responses, they caused corruption in the land and attributed to us [the position of] allowing imperfections (naqṣ) in relation to His Holiness (Blessed and Exalted is He), and they spread this accusation amongst the foolish and the ignorant to create enmity in the common people and to seek enjoyment and popularity amongst men. They reached the roads of the heavens in fabrication when they fabricated an image from themselves on the actuality (fi’liyyah) of falsehood [and ascribed it to us] without fearing the Knowing King. When Indians became aware of their scheming, they sought help from the noble ‘ulamā’ of the two Sanctuaries because they know they are ignorant of their evil and the reality of the views of our ‘ulamā’.

Their likeness is but the likeness of the Mu‘tazilah as compared with the Ahl al-Sunnah wa l-Jamā‘ah since they [i.e. the Mu’tazilah] excluded rewarding the sinner (ithābat al-‘āṣī) and punishing the obedient (‘iqāb al-muṭī’) from the Pre-Eternal Power and made justice (‘adl) necessary for Allāh’s essence. They called themselves “the advocates of justice and transcendence” and they attributed injustice, unconscientiousness and ugliness to the ‘ulamā’ of Ahl al-Sunnah wa l-Jamā‘ah. So just as the predecessors of Ahl al-Sunnah wa l-Jamā‘ah did not mind their ignorance and did not permit inability in relation to Him (Transcendent and Exalted is He!) in the aforementioned injustice, and broadened the Pre-Eternal Power while also removing imperfections from His Noble Absolute Self and perfecting the transcendence and sanctity of His Lofty Holiness, saying, “Your understanding of the possibility of the ability to punish the obedient and reward the sinner as an imperfection is but the consequence of [following] despicable philosophers”; in the same way, we say to them, “Your understanding of the ability to act contrary to the promise, report and truth and the likes of them as an imperfection, while their issuance (ṣudūr) from Him (Exalted is He) is impossible, only textually, or rationally and textually, is but the misfortune of philosophy and logic and your adverse ignorance.”

They do what they do because of the absolute transcendence [of Allāh], but they are unable to perfect the Power and broaden it. As for our predecessors, the Ahl al-Sunnah wa l-Jamā‘ah, they combined between the two matters, of widening the Power and perfecting transcendence for the Necessary Existent (Transcendent and Exalted is He).

This is what we mentioned in al-Barāhīn in summary-form, and here are some of the proof-texts in support of it from the relied upon books of the madhhab:

(1) It says in Sharḥ al-Mawāqif:

“All the Mu‘tazila and Khawārij make punishing the one who incurs a major sin necessary when he dies without repentance and they do not allow Allāh to pardon him for two reasons. First, He (Exalted is He) made it a promise to punish major sins and informed [us] of this i.e. punishment because of it, so if He does not punish for a major sin and pardons, it would entail reneging on His threat and falsehood in His speech, which are impossible. The answer is, the conclusion of this [argument] is that punishment will [actually] occur, so where is the [intrinsic] necessity of punishment, on which is our discussion, since there is no doubt that non-necessity [of punishment] along with [its] occurrence does not entail reneging and falsehood? It cannot be said that it entails their possibility which is also impossible, because we say: its impossibility is not accepted. How so, when they [reneging on a threat and stating something false] are from the possibilities included in His (Exalted is He) Power?”

(2) In Sharḥ al-Maqāsid by ‘Allamah al-Taftāzāni (Allāh Most High have mercy on him) at the end of the discussion on Power:

“The deniers of the inclusiveness of His Power are many groups; of them are al-Naẓẓām and his [Mu‘tazilī] followers who say that He does not have power over foolishness, falsehood and oppression and all ugly acts (qabā’iḥ), for if their creation were in His capacity, their issuance (ṣudūr) from Him would be possible, and this concomitant (lāzim) is false because it results in impudence (safah) if He knows the ugliness of this and its dispensability, and in ignorance if He is not knowing.

“The response is: We do not concede the ugliness of a thing in relation to Him, how [can we accept this] when He is in complete control of His kingdom? And if it is conceded, Power over it does not negate the impossibility of its issuance from Him, by consideration of the presence of disposal and the absence of need, even if it is possible (mumkinan).”

(3) It says in al-Musāyarah and its commentary al-Musāmarah by ‘Allāmah al-Muḥaqqiq Kamāl ibn al-Humām al-Ḥanafi and his student Ibn Abi l-Sharīf al-Maqdisī al-Shāfi‘ī (Allāh Most High have mercy on them):

“Then he i.e. the author of Al-’Umdah said, ‘Allah (Exalted is He) is not characterised by Power over oppression, impudence and falsehood because the impossible is not included in [His] Power, i.e. it is improper for it to pertain to them, while according to the Mu’tazilah, He (Exalted is He) is capable of all that but does not do [them].’ End quote from Al-‘Umda.

“It appears as though he altered that which he transmitted from the Mu‘tazilah, since there is no doubt that the absence of power over what was mentioned is the madhhab of the Mu‘tazilah. As for its presence, i.e. power over what was mentioned, and then abstention from pertaining to them by choice, it is more fitting to the madhhab, i.e. it the madhhab of the Ash‘aris, than it is to the madhhab of the Mu‘tazilah. It is obvious that this more fitting position is also included in transcendence, since there is no doubt that abstention therefrom i.e. from those things mentioned of oppression, impudence and falsehood, is from the matter of transcendence, from that which does not befit the majesty of His Holiness (Exalted is He).

“Hence, it should be understood by the foregone premise, i.e. the intellect understands, which of the two views are more excessive in transcendence from indecencies: is it power over it, i.e. what was mentioned from the three matters, along with impossibility, i.e. His abstention from it by choosing that abstention; or its impossibility from Him because of the absence of power over it? It is incumbent to rely on the more inclusive of the two statements in transcendence, which is the statement more fitting to the madhhab of the Ash‘aris.”

(4) In Ḥawāshī al-Kalnabawī ‘alā Sharḥ al-‘Aqā’id al-Aḍuḍiyyah by al-Muḥaqqiq al-Dawwānī (Allāh Most High have mercy on them):

In sum, lying being ugly in the uttered-speech (al-kalām al-lafẓi), in the sense that it is an attribute of deficiency, is not accepted according to the Ash‘arīs. That is why al-Sharīf al-Muḥaqqiq (al-Jurjānī) said it is from the totality of the possibilities (mumkināt), and acquiring decisive knowledge of its non-occurrence in His speech by consensus of the scholars and the Prophets (upon them be peace) does not negate its intrinsic possibility like all decisive knowledge of normal occurrences (al-‘ulūm al-‘adiyah) and it does not negate what Imām al-Rāzī said…”.

(5) In Taḥrīr al-Uṣūl by the author of Fatḥ al-Qadīr, Imām ibn al-Humām, and its commentary by Ibn Amir al-Hajj (Allah Most High have mercy on them):

“Therefore – i.e. since whatever is conceived as a deficiency is impossible for Him – the decisiveness of the impossibility of characterising Him – i.e. Allāh (Exalted is He) – with lying and the like of it (Transcendent is He beyond that) becomes apparent. Also, if His act being characterised by ugliness was possible, confidence in the integrity of His promise, the integrity of His speech besides it – i.e. [besides] His (Exalted is He) promise – and the integrity of His Prophets would be removed – i.e. in principle, His integrity would be uncertain.

“According to the Ash‘arīs, He (Exalted is He) is certainly not characterised by ugly acts, but they are not rationally impossible, like all of creation. [This is] just like all the sciences in which one of two opposites being the reality is certain, but the other is not impossible, if it were assumed that it is the reality; just like the certainty of Mecca and Baghdad – i.e. their existence – since their non-existence is not rationally impossible. Therefore – i.e. when the matter is such – confidence [in the integrity of His word] being removed is not necessitated because the possibility of something rationally does not necessitate not having firm resolve of its non-existence.

“The running dispute regarding the rational impossibility and possibility of this applies to all faults – is Allah’s power over it absent or is it, i.e. the fault, contained in it, i.e. His Power? He will certainly not do it, i.e. the absolutely decisive condition is the fault will not be done…”

Similar statements to what we quoted from the madhhab of the Ash‘arīs are mentioned by al-Qāḍī al-‘Aḍuḍ in Sharḥ Mukhtaṣar al-Uṣūl and the commentators on it, as well as in Sharḥ al-Mawāqif and the marginalia to al-Mawāqif by al-Chalabī, and others. Similarly, ‘Allamah al-Qushjī in Sharḥ al-Tajrīd, al-Qunawi and others stated this. We avoided quoting their texts fearing prolixity and tedium. Allāh has charge of right guidance and right direction. (al-Muhannad ‘ala l-Mufannad, Dār al-Fatḥ, p. 87-96)

These answers were then sent to prominent Arab scholars of that era, who endorsed them. Some of these prominent Arab scholars include:

  1. Shaykh Muḥammad Sa‘īd Bābuṣayl al-Makkī (d. 1912), the Shāfi‘ī Muftī of Makkah and one of its leading scholars at the time. He wrote: “I have studied these answers by the perspicacious erudite scholar to the answers mentioned in this treatise and I found them to be at the peak of correctness, may Allāh (Exalted is He) repay the answerer, my brother and dear one, the unique Shaykh Khalīl Aḥmad, may He continue his fortune and reverence in both worlds, and may He break the heads of the misguided and the jealous by him to the Day of Judgement. [I ask this] through the status of the Messengers, āmīn.” (ibid. p. 115)
  2. Sayyid Aḥmad al-Barzanjī (d. 1919), the Shāfi‘ī Muftī of Madīnah, who wrote an entire treatise in response to Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī’s request to give his assessment on the answers. The treatise is called: Kamāl al-Tathqīf wa l-Taqwīm li ‘Iwaj al-Afhām ‘ammā Yajib li Kalāmillāh al-Qadīm. He wrote at the end of the treatise: “Once the discussion has reached this stage, we make a general comprehensive statement for all the answers of the treatise comprising of 26 answers, which the respected erudite scholar Shaykh Khalīl Aḥmad presented to us to inspect and consider the judgements therein: We indeed do not find in there any view that necessitates disbelief or innovation. Nor anything that is to be criticised for whatever reason, besides these three places which we mentioned, and there is nothing there too that necessitates disbelief or innovation as you are aware from our discussion about them. It is known that every scholar who compiles a book will not be safe from slips in some places of his speech.”

The bulk of Sayyid Barzanjī’s treatise is on the topic of imkān al-kidhb, as reflected by its title. He thus states: “The reason I gave it this title is that the answers which he gave to these questions, although diverse and related to various rules of both peripherals and principles, the most important of them is the one related to the necessity of truthfulness in Allāh’s self and spoken speech. Due to this importance, I give priority to this discussion over other answers…After having realised this adequate clarification and comprehending it with sound sufficient understanding, you know that what the respected Shaykh Khalīl Aḥmad mentioned in answers 23, 24 and 25, is a recognised position in the reliable widely-circulated books of the latter-day ‘Ulamā’ of Kalām like al-Mawāqif, al-Maqāṣid, Shurūḥ al-Tajrīd, al-Musayārah and so on. The outcome of these answers that Shaykh Khalīl Aḥmad mentioned is in agreement with the aforementioned ‘Ulamā’ of Kalām on it being within the ability of Allāh (Exalted is He) to go against the promise and threat and the truthful report in the spoken speech, which according to them necessitates intrinsic possibility, while there is certainty and conviction on it not occurring. This much does not entail disbelief, obstinacy, nor innovation in religion nor corruption. How so when you know the statement of the ‘Ulamā’ that we mentioned agreeing with it? As you saw in the statement of Mawāqif and its commentary which we cited earlier. Thus, Shaykh Khalīl Aḥmad has not come out of the parameters of their speech.” (ibid. p. 121 – 125)

The treatise is dated to Rabī‘ al-Awwal, 1329 H (1911), and was consigned by over 20 scholars of Madīnah.

  1. ‘Allāmah Sayyid Muḥammad Abu l-Khayr Ibn ‘Ābidīn (1853 – 1925), the grandson of the brother of the famous Ibn ‘Ābidīn, author of Radd al-Muḥtār. He was a notable scholar of Shām. He states that he has read the treatise and that its author has described the beliefs of Ahl al-Sunnah wa l-Jamā‘ah. (ibid. p. 130)
  2. Shaykh Muṣṭafā ibn Aḥmad al-Shaṭṭī al-Ḥanbalī (1856 – 1929), a prominent Ḥanbalī muftī and ṣūfī of Damascus, and author of a work refuting Wahhābīs. (ibid. p. 131)
  3. ‘Allāmah Maḥmūd al-‘Aṭṭār (1867 – 1943), a great scholar of Shām, and the most notable student of ‘Allāmah Sayyid Badr al-Dīn al-Ḥasanī (1851 – 1935). He writes: “I have come across this important work and found it to be a book comprising of all subtle and manifest [matters] in refutation of the innovated group of Wahhābīs, may Allāh (Exalted is He) increase the likes of its author.” (ibid. p. 132 – 133)

Mawlānā Manẓūr Nu‘mānī’s Sayf e Yamānī Bar Makā’id Firqah e RazāKhānī

December 29, 2018

Mawlānā Manẓūr Nu‘mānī (1905 – 1997) engaged the Barelwī menace early on in his career. One of the classical works that was a product of these early endeavours was one published in 1930 CE (1349 H), called Sayf e Yamānī bar Makā’id Firqah e RazāKhānī (The Yemeni Sword on the Deceptions of the RazaKhānī Sect). The work is available here:

https://ia800809.us.archive.org/20/items/SAIFEYAMANI_201710/SAIF_E_YAMANI.pdf

This is a thorough and detailed refutation of Barelwī allegations against the Deobandī school and its elders. It was written in response to a booklet called ‘Aqā’id Wahhābiyya Deobandiyya published towards the end of 1347 H (1929 CE), the author being a certain ‘Azīz Aḥmad Kānpūrī. The booklet was written in response to a write-up of Mawlānā Nu‘mānī himself called Kashf al-Ḥijāb. Thus, someone from Kanpur sent a copy to Mawlānā Nu‘mānī. Mawānā Nu‘mānī felt no need to respond since it was essentially a regurgitation of typical Barelwī allegations which had been answered time and again, but then the Barelwī author, ‘Azīz Aḥmad Kānpūrī, began to claim that Mawlānā Nu‘mānī was unable to answer. Thus, to allay this false impression and provide readers with an objective assessment of the evidences and the claims being made, Sayf e Yamānī was written.

Mawlānā Nu‘mānī’s detailed response to Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn called Fayṣlah Kun Munāẓarah (1933) has been translated and published online. See here:

https://barelwism.wordpress.com/2012/03/20/the-decisive-debate-mawlana-manzur-numani/

Parts of his response to allegations against Shāh Ismā‘īl Shahīd in a work called Ḥaḍrat Shāh Ismā’īl Shahīd aur Mu‘ānidīn Ahl e Bid‘at kā Ilzāmāt (1957) have also been summarised. See here:

https://barelwism.wordpress.com/2017/03/10/refuting-the-allegation-that-shah-ismail-said-allah-forbid-that-to-think-of-the-prophet-saw-in-salah-is-worse-than-thinking-of-animals/

https://barelwism.wordpress.com/2012/01/23/shah-ismail-calling-the-prophet-a-brother/

https://barelwism.wordpress.com/2012/01/23/shah-ismail-considering-the-prophet-lower-than-a-shoemaker/

https://barelwism.wordpress.com/2018/12/29/refuting-the-allegation-that-shah-ismail-shahid-denied-the-preservation-of-the-prophets-body/

https://barelwism.wordpress.com/2014/01/04/shah-ismail-the-belief-in-shafaah/

Sayf e Yamānī was written before both of these works, and was endorsed by several leading scholars.

While recounting his encounters with Ḥakīm al-Ummah Mawlānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī (1863 – 1943) in his autobiography Taḥdith e Ni‘mat, Mawlānā Nu‘mānī describes how he had apprised Ḥaḍrat Thānawī of the work before it was published in order to receive his feedback. Since this discussion is beneficial, we will produce a translation of the entire section below:

The writer of these lines [Mawlānā Manẓūr Nu‘mānī] wrote a comprehensive book in response to all the famous allegations and objections of the Barelwīs under the name Sayf e Yamānī. It included responses to several allegations and objections returning to Ḥaḍrat Thānawī, but the discussion on the dream of a devotee of Ḥaḍrat from Punjab was very detailed. Based on this [dream] a very serious propaganda was being made on the part of the Barelwīs against Ḥaḍrat on a wide scale, and hearing it many unthinking devotees were also becoming concerned on account of their ignorance. From special assistance and Tawfīq from Allāh Ta‘ālā the discussion in Sayf e Yamānī was such that in my view it was very satisfactory and the matter became completely clear from it. I had great satisfaction in this discussion, and was very happy that Allāh Ta‘ālā had given me the Tawfīq to [prepare] it.

Upon preparing this book Sayf e Yamānī, my heart wished that despite having no acquaintance with Ḥaḍrat Thānawī, I would request that he inspect this discussion and let me know his opinion. I had heard that Ḥaḍrat Ḥakīm al-Ummat very much disliked unnecessary length and forced formality even when writing [to someone]. Anything that is to be said or written should be done in a clear and direct manner using brief words according to the need. I sent a copy of Sayf e Yamānī to Ḥaḍrat via post and also wrote a letter, the content of which after honourable address and the sunnah greeting was:

“I have not acquired the privilege of being acquainted with Ḥaḍrat. Thus, Ḥaḍrat is probably completely unaware of me. I was a student of Dārul ‘Ulūm Deoband from a few years ago. Currently I am teaching some lessons at Madrasah Islamia at Amroha. Understanding it to be important Dīnī work, I have undertaken some work with the assistance and Tawfīq of Allāh Ta‘ālā to respond and refute the torrent of fitnah that the Barelwī group have raised against our Akābir. In connection to this I am currently writing a book. One copy I have sent in [your] service by post. If there is room within Ḥaḍrat’s schedule and engagement, and no disruption, I would hope that Ḥaḍrat Wālā would inspect the book or at least only the discussion which is regarding the famous dream of an individual in connection to Ḥaḍrat, which is from page so-and-so to page so-and-so of the book. Please inspect it and if not against your principles, and there is no kind of burden or disruption, then [I request] Ḥaḍrat to inform me of his respected view. If there is no room in his schedule, or inspection will cause disruption for whatever reason, I am not at all insisting. In this case, there is also no need to take the trouble to return the book. I have sent it in the service of Ḥaḍrat with only the intention of a gift. If accepted it will be a cause of favour and happiness for me. If not, please offer me any attention.”

This was my first ever letter in Ḥaḍrat Ḥakīm al-Ummat’s service. I had also put an envelope for a response. After four or five days Ḥaḍrat’s response came. According to his general principles he wrote the answer on the very same letter. The part of this letter that I remember that deserves mention is:

“Having read your letter, I was delighted by the fact that you wrote your need clearly and directly without any forced formality, and you kept in mind my schedule, principles and temperament. Because of this, du‘ā [for you] emerged from the heart. I am not unfamiliar with you. I keep hearing of you and your activities. Thus, I have a distant connection and love for you, and keep making du‘ā for you. To give you peace of mind, I write that I wholeheartedly accept your gift.

“I opened the book with the intention of glancing at it here and there, and to read in full the discussion related to the dream for which you wrote specifically. But when I started reading the book, I did not wish to leave out any part of it, and for as long as I did not complete the entire book, I did not engage in any other activities in between besides my established necessary activities. I was very happy with the entire book. Jazākumullāh khayrā! I read the discussion on the dream specifically with greater deliberation. Without pretence, I say that if I had myself tried I would not have been able to give such satisfying a clarification. May Allāh grant blessing in your life, knowledge and practice.”

Ḥaḍrat, according to his normal practice, wrote this on my very letter. It is unfortunate that this letter has not been preserved. But I remember the content of my letter and these parts of Ḥaḍrat’s response well, and I write this with the assistance of my memory. Apart from this, Ḥaḍrat wrote a short endorsement separately, which was published together with the book at that time. (Taḥdīth e Ni‘mat, p. 143-6)

Mawlānā Nu‘mānī continues to recount several occasions thereafter where he met with Ḥaḍrat Thānawī in person, beginning from a first meeting in 1931.

Endorsements

Some of the notable endorsers of the work are as follows:

  1. Ḥakīm al-Ummah Mawlānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī (1863 – 1943). He writes: “I have seen the treatise Sayf e Yamānī in full which was written in response to objections of some of the Ahl al-Ahwā’…May Allāh give the author excellent recompense and make the treatise a means of guidance.” (Sayf e Yamānī, p. 3)
  2. Shaykh al-Islām Mawlānā Shabbīr Aḥmad al-‘Uthmānī (1887 – 1949), author of a well-known commentary on Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, referred to as “Muḥaqqiq al-‘Aṣr” by ‘Allāmah Kawtharī and a champion for the cause of Pakistan. He says: “For a long time I had hoped that if a comprehensive treatise on the subject were written it would be very beneficial. Many times I had thought to write something myself but this reward is your share. Mā shā Allāh, the teachings and statements of the Akābir have been explained in simple, generally understood and easy expressions. If any harshness is sensed in any passage it is to be considered as part of: ‘take revenge after being wronged’. In my opinion it is our duty to make all effort to publicise it…” (ibid.)
  3. ‘Allāmah ‘Abd al-Shakūr al-Fārūqī al-Lakhnawī (1876 – 1962), a famous author and debater. He wrote several books against the Shī‘ah and in favour of Ahl al-Sunnah. He wrote a popular work on Ḥanafi Fiqh called Ilm al-Fiqh. He is a scion of the famous Firangī Maḥall school of Lucknow, having studied for about 7 years under Mawlānā ‘Ayn al-Quḍāt al-Ḥaydarābādī a famous successor of ‘Allāmah ‘Abd al-Ḥayy al-Laknawī, perhaps the most well-known of the Firangī Maḥall scholars. Hence, he is a non-Deobandī scholar contemporaneous with the founding of the Barelwī school, who opposed them. He says: “May Allāh give excellent reward to the author for having properly shed light on all the issues which are disputed between Ahl al-Sunnah wa l-Jamā‘ah and the new innovated sect RazāKhāniyyah.” He dated the endorsement to 29 Dhu l-Qadah, 1348 (1930). (ibid. p. 4)
  4. ‘Allāmah Sayyid Murtaḍā Ḥasan Chāndpūrī (1868 – 1951), who ‘Allāmah Kawtharī referred to as “the prominent teacher” in reference to his work against Qādiyānīs. He has several works in refutation of Barelwīs and Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī. He even sent some of his refutations directly to the latter.
  5. ‘Allāmah Ẓafar Aḥmad al-‘Uthmānī (1892 – 1974), the celebrated author of I‘lā al-Sunan. He wrote an endorsement in Arabic, part of which is: “I was honoured to read the treatise al-Sayf al-Yamānī, and by my life, it is like its name a sword cutting the necks of the people of desires and vain hopes. Indeed, its author did well and benefited and showed the people the ways of guidance…” (ibid. p. 5)
  6. ‘Allāmah Muḥaddith Ḥabīb al-Raḥmān al-A‘ẓamī (1901 – 1992), the famous scholar of ḥadīth.

Contents

‘Azīz Aḥmad Kānpūrī’s booklet consists of 30 so-called beliefs of the ‘Ulamā’ of Deoband and 22 questions. Mawlānā Nu’mānī thus addresses all the allegations and then answers each question.

Some of the important issues that are addressed are as follows:

  1. The passage from Barāhīn e Qāti‘ah about the knowledge of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him)
  2. The passage from Barāhīn Qāti‘ah describing a dream in which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) spoke Urdu
  3. The Deobandī position on Mawlid and ‘Urs, and the alleged “dissimulation” (taqiyya) of Deobandīs on this matter
  4. The title Raḥmatun lil ‘Ālamīn and whether it can be used for other than the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him)
  5. The meaning of “Khātamiyyah” and the finality of prophethood according to Deobandīs and Mawlānā Qāsim Nānotawī
  6. The dream of a devotee of Haḍrat Thānawī in which he mistakenly referred to the latter as “Rasūlullāh”
  7. A passage from Marthiya Gangohī describing Mawlānā Gangohī as “a second to Islām’s founder”
  8. The passage from Hifẓ al-Īmān on describing the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as ‘ālim al-ghayb
  9. The passage from Taḥdhīr al-Nās stating that deeds of an Ummatī can apparently be more numerous than those of their Prophets
  10. Imkān Kidhb
  11. Bid‘ah, its types and whether certain forms of īṣāl thawāb amount to bid‘ah

Some sections of the work may be translated/summarised in future posts, insha Allah.


Al-Shihāb al-Thāqib and the Response of the Arab Scholars to Aḥmad Riḍā Khān

February 15, 2017

Introduction and Background to al-Shihāb al-Thāqib by Mawlānā Ḥusayn Aḥmad Madanī

Since al-Shihāb al-Thāqib by Mawlānā Ḥusayn Aḥmad Madanī (1296 – 1377 H/1879 – 1957 CE)* is an important work in both explaining the background to Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī’s shenanigans in the Ḥijāz/exposing him as a fraudster and deceiver, as well as in showing the differences between the Akābir of Deoband and the Wahhābīs, it will be worth sharing a translation of the introduction to the book so that the background to, and reasons for, its authorship can be appreciated.

Along with getting an idea of the contents of the work, one will also be able to appreciate the efforts made to give a detailed response to the slanders and lies of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī (1856 – 1921) directly by the Akābir.* The introduction translated below makes up about 5 pages of a book consisting of a total of over 90 pages.

The book was written around the year 1910 CE (i.e. many years before the Saudi/Wahhābī takeover of Ḥijāz) while Mawlānā Madanī was still residing in Madīnah, having lived there for over ten years. (He lived in Madīnah between the years 1899 and 1914 CE). A lengthy, and illuminating, part of the introduction contains a somewhat detailed description of the reaction of the scholars of Makkah and Madīnah to Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s arrival in the Ḥijāz and to his request for their signed approvals to his fatwā. This part has not been translated, but a summary of it is given below.

[*In a letter dated 1370 H/1950 CE, Mawlānā Madanī wrote about the work al-Shihāb al-Thāqib: “Since it was written against Mawlawī Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī’s refutation, Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn, the discussion on Wahhābīs came as a secondary [discussion], the objective of which is [to show] that our predecessors are aloof of both extremism and laxity – their track was of moderation, and they are the true followers of the noble predecessors of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa l-Jamā‘ah. That which was expressed in this book remains my position, and it is the way of my noble predecessors.” (Cherāgh e Muḥammad, p. 118]

[** Of course, the Akābir who were themselves accused also made direct refutations: Mawlānā Thānawī in a detailed discussion in his Basṭ al-Banān, Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī in his Muhannad, and even Mawlānā Gangohī rejected the attribution of the fabricated fatwā to himself as reported by his student, Sayyid Murtaḍā Ḥasan Chāndpūrī (Majmū‘ah Rasā’il Chāndpūrī, 1:106).]

The following is a translation of the introduction to the book:

The Piercing Projectile on the Eavesdropping Liar

Praise to the One Who adorned the sky of the two Noble Ḥarams with stars of pious ‘Ulamā’ and protection from every accursed rebellious devil. ‘They do not eavesdrop on the highest company and are bombarded from every side, repelled, and they have a lingering punishment – except for one who snatches a fragment, who is then followed by a piercing projectile.’ (Qur’ān, 37:8-10)

Thanks to the One Who granted the lordly imāms with a plentiful share of the Prophetic Legacy and those things left behind by al-Muṣṭafā, even to the point that He appointed for each of them ‘an enemy, devils of man and jinn, inspiring one another with fancy words to deceive’ (Qur’ān, 6:112) and ‘to strive for corruption on the earth’ (Qur’ān, 5:33), ‘for indecency to spread amongst the believers’ (Qur’ān, 24:19) and to split the adherents of Islām, so that they gain in aversion amongst themselves – and thereafter, He punished them causing their fancies and contrivances to vanish, and exposing them over the heads of witnesses, revealing their ploy and expelling each of them from the cosmos of [His] mercy, condemned and defeated.

And blessing and peace be upon the one who brought guidance and the Religion of Truth to make it manifest over all religion, even if the idolaters detest it; and [who brought] signs that break the necks of those who wish to extinguish the light of Allāh with their mouths, but Allāh refuses but for His light to be complete, even if the wicked are angered; and [blessing and peace be] upon his progeny and his companions who cleansed the upright religion from the impurities of doubt, unconcerned by those who oppose them from the obstinate ones, and [who] expended their efforts in making the word of the Sunnah and Congregation high, giving no attention to the innovations of the deviated People of Desires; and [blessing and peace be] upon their followers in excellence and sincerity till the Day of Judgement – for verily they are the nation from all communities holding firmly to justice, and with sincere concern for truth, till the Day of Resurrection, neither harmed by those who oppose them nor forsaken because of those who abandon them, by assistance of the Most Merciful of the merciful ones, and they are the pivots of the Bright Sharī‘ah and of the White Monotheism, by glad-tidings of the Unlettered Prophet, Allāh bless him and grant him, his progeny and his companions peace.

To proceed.

The servant of the students [of Dīn], Ḥusayn Aḥmad ibn Sayyid Ḥabībullāh al-Ḥanafī al-Ḥusaynī al-Chishtī al-Ṣābirī al-Rashīdī al-Fayḍābādī thumma l-Madanī, submits in the holy service of all Muslims residing in India that:

A long period ago, this lowly one, having left his ancestral hometown, the province of Fayḍābād, with his honorable father – may his honor remain –, had entered into the shadow of Prophetic Bounty (upon him blessing and peace) – that is, Madīnah Munawwarah. Because, since childhood, and in fact since infancy, I have had no other preoccupation besides academic engagements, this is why there too I have not engaged in any preoccupation besides studying, teaching and keeping the company of scholars and students. Till now, the part of my life spent there, I have endeavored as far as possible to spend in these activities. This is why I have gained a complete familiarity with the Muslim residents of the Pure City and a full acquaintance with their conditions, beliefs and ideas. I can say with conviction that the revered noble scholars living in Madīnah Munawwarah – Allāh increase it in honour and excellence – follow completely the Ahl al-Sunnah wa l-Jamā‘ah and the seniors of the predecessors in beliefs and so on, and they agree with all the beliefs of the revered Elders of the ‘Ulamā’ of Deoband and Sahāranpūr, both in particulars and universals, without even slight variation.

However, at the start of 1324 H (1906 H), an astonishing disaster occurred, that one “Ḥaḍrat Barelwī,” who is referred to by his devotees as “reviver of the present century,” journeyed to the Ḥijāz in this year. And there is no doubt that he is indeed “reviver of the present century,” since those individuals of the past who endeavoured and struggled hard to declare the Elders and People of Truth to be deviant and wicked, regarding the targeting of their dignity and honour and spending one’s precious life in debasing and anathematising them a cause of salvation and high rank, for some time, their zeal had become extremely diminished, and their power had become close to being non-existent. This “A‘lā Ḥaḍrat” Barelwī gave life to their decomposed bones. He transformed their weakness into strength. He brought into existence such varying types of injustice and savagery that he became the ultimate reminder and revival of his predecessors from the people of deception and injustice, and in fact he became the pride of all previous fabricators. A practising scholar, researcher and the Sunnī ‘Ulamā of India [in general] are unfortunate who were not martyred at the savage hands of this “A‘lā Ḥaḍrat”. In fact, no group in those lands will be of the “saved group” who this Barelwī reviver and his followers did not slaughter with their pens and tongues.

Friends! This prophecy of the Accepted Messenger (upon him peace) is still manifesting. In how many ways is, ‘You will surely follow the ways of those before you…’ [1] ultimately being put into effect? The Jews were filled with [the qualities of]: ‘they slaughter the prophets without right’ (Qur’ān, 3:112), ‘their killing of the prophets’ (Qur’ān, 3:181), ‘their consumption of the impermissible’ (Qur’ān, 5:62), and ‘they take words out of context’ (Qur’ān, 4:46). Thus, in accordance with the statement of the Prophet (upon him peace): ‘the scholars of my ummah are like the prophets of Banū Isrā’īl’ [2], these [followers of theirs] strive to anathematise the erudite scholars and learned ones of excellence, which is far greater than murder. If by murder, it is intended to eliminate the body and negate bodily life, the intent of takfīr is eliminating the soul and destroying the life of īmān. If the Jews would consume the impermissible, then these [followers of theirs] treat interest as their nourishment. If they manipulated the words of Tawrāh, then these [followers of theirs] manipulate the meanings of Qur’ān and ḥadīth and mutilate the words of reliable ‘Ulamā’. Then, why would it not be said that they are the ultimate reminders of their predecessors from the Israelites and revivers of taḍlīl and tafsīq of a deceased nation? Well, whatever will be, will be. I have no purpose in this to [explain] which bright sun of the cosmos of misguidance and which luminous full moon of the constellation of deviance he is.

When “Ḥaḍrat Mujaddid al-Takfīr Ṣāḥib” (reviver of takfīr) arrived at the lands of Ḥijāz, he propagated astonishing deception and fraud, and deceived the ‘Ulamā’ of the two Noble Ḥarams using various kinds of plots and ploys. Some unacquainted simple-hearted individuals undoubtedly fell prey to his plot of forgery; but those who Allāh (Exalted is He) granted complete powers of discretion, criticism and insight, or those who someone alerted, did not at all fall prey to his deception.

To maintain his agenda, “Mujaddid Ṣāḥib” had to undoubtedly endure various kinds of hardships, difficulties, indignities and insults. In fact, because of this disturbance, all the ‘Ulamā’ of India were debased and humiliated in the eyes of others. Thus, I have time and again, at that time and after that time, heard the people of Egypt, Levant, Ḥijāz and other [places] attacking this “Ḥaḍrat Mujaddid al-Takfīr Ṣāḥib”, as well as the whole population of India. Although in Tamhīd Shayṭānī and other [books] also, many praises and commendations are quoted, but at the same time, they are a few numbered individuals, and even they [made these statements] before they were aware of his reality; otherwise, the people of Ḥijāz in general, in the end, came to know of his nature. See Risālah Madīnah, what was and was not written with respect to him. I will write details of this later. Since this lowly one was at this time present in Madīnah Munawwarah, may Allāh increase it in honour and excellence, this is why I am fully aware of all of these events as they unfolded, and know very well those who explicitly opposed him.

Ḥaḍrāt! He made very severe allegations against the revered ‘Ulamā’ and Elders of Deoband, describing them in such a way that seeing which, every religious person would express severe dislike and aversion. Since this lowly one has plucked the fruits of the revered Elders of Deoband and Gangoh and is wrapped up in their hem of compassion, & for seven to eight years I was a sweeper at the court of these Elders and acquired the service of straightening their shoes, this is why I know the beliefs, ideas and practices of these Elders very well. Because of this, at that time also, I had exposed these ploys and allegations in Madīnah Munawwarah, and I showed people the treatises of the Elders. However, those individuals who had already put their signatures before this awareness, as I will describe later, became helpless, and they said after this recognition: “We had put conditions in our respective commendations [i.e. that the fatwā is only valid if the information in the question was correct].”

The upshot is that “Ḥaḍrat Mujaddid al-Taḍlīl Ṣāḥib” came to the Ḥijāz with the idea of achieving [currency for] his falsehood by very hard efforts and immense labour. Achieving some incomplete and complete success, he returned from Madīnah Munawwarah in Rabī‘ al-Thānī of the aforementioned year (i.e. 1324/1906), and for some time kept this hidden, from which the idea came that maybe he received some admonition and became ashamed of his ugly actions; because when the general and special [people] head to the two Noble Ḥarams, this is their intent: that by virtue of attendance and performing worship at those blessed spots, sins are eliminated and lessened. “Mujaddid Ṣāḥib” Barelwī performed this journey with only a sinful purpose, in fact with the purpose of the greatest of major sins, and undertook to deceive the gullible and simple ‘Ulamā’ there. He had drawn those helpless ones to himself, but what is the error of these innocents? What knowledge did they have of what substances of taḍlīl, tafsīq, misguidance and so on, this Barelwī Ṣāḥib was filled with? They worked according to good expectations (ḥusn al-ẓann), and endorsed his speech and practice.

In 1327 H (1909 CE), this lowly one arrived at the lands of India for some personal needs and observed that the compilation of those invectives and takfīrs of the Elders, along with those seals, was printed. It was being taken around here and there by some ignoramuses, seducing the general Muslims away from the People of Truth and making them lose faith in them, using various machinations to get their treat. Seeing this, I became convinced that my earlier thought with respect to “Mujaddid al-Takfīr Ṣāḥib” of having been reformed was completely incorrect. In fact, he was subject to [the description in the verse]: ‘in their hearts is an illness and Allāh has increased them in illness’ (Qur’ān, 2:10) and is an example of: ‘deaf, dumb and blind, so they will not come back [to truth].’ (Qur’ān, 2:18) He had not retreated from his personal practices and the traits of his forbears.

I had intended in Madīnah Munawwarah to properly describe the events of “Mujaddid al-Taḍlīl Ṣāḥib” that unfolded here, making them clear to the Muslim residents of India. However, two things stopped me from this.

First, several reports reached me that “A‘la Ḥaḍrat Mujaddid Barelwī” upon returning was quiet, so [my] tongue remained moist with “reconciliation is best.” (Qur’ān, 4:128) Thus my feeling [about him] mentioned earlier remained attached [to myself]. The content [of the ḥadīth]: ‘The one who repents from a sin is like one who has no sin’ was what hindered the abovementioned intention.

Second, Mawlānā Shaykh Muḥammad Ma‘ṣūm Ṣāḥib Naqshbandī [3] and Mawlānā Munawwar ‘Alī Ṣāḥib Muḥaddith Rāmpūrī [4] had written the conditions of this “Mujaddid Barelwī” to those who met with them, and these individuals circulated all of these events in the newspapers.

But alas, caution [is required]! When I saw that people had forgotten these matters and these news reports have been lost, then the initial poison which he who was with me [in Madīnah] brought from there, and because of which he undertook this blessed journey, and wasted thousands of rupees in this endevour, it now became necessary for me to, in notifying you people of those sketchy circumstances authentically, based on what I witnessed or heard there through reliable means, make you aware of his fabrications and contrivances; because the revered ‘Ulamā’ of Deoband, Sahāranpūr etc. are engaged in their academic engagements such that they give no attention to anything else, and believing all matters of “Mujaddid Barelwī” as senseless delusions, they regarded turning their attention in this direction to be opposed to their standing as scholars and opposed to honorable conduct, while elsewhere the ignorant innovators and the opposing party, finding the arena clear, are misguiding the general Muslims. Thus it was necessary, that the extravagant self-boasts made with respect to him in Tamhīd, their reality is recognised; and this too comes to light that those Elders on whose hem of innocence “Mujaddid Ṣāḥib” wanted to put a mark, they are completely clean and pure of those impurities.

It is the fruits of “Mujaddid Ṣāḥib’s” self-interests, search for fame and worldly esteem that is written down in this treatise (i.e. Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn). Those Elders are far removed from those corrupt ideas.

If you people notice any harsh word with regards to him and his group, then excuse this as a mistake of this lowly one. The insulting language which “Mujaddid Ṣāḥib” has used in Tamhīd Shayṭānī and Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn, if they were to be responded to, and if an answer was written according to the dictates of that, then only God knows to where that will lead! I have restrained my instincts completely, and will proceed with the discussion very cautiously. But what am I to do? In places, because of the swears and delusions of this maligner, my instincts go out control, and I am thus rendered helpless. But even still, there too I will not come outside the bounds of dignity and knowledge as far as possible. A full response to him in this respect can be done by those ignoramuses and savages of low stock and bad manners, but that too would be written in the deeds of “Mujaddid Ṣāḥib”. The statement of the Messenger (upon him peace): “Whatever two people swearing at each other say, it [falls] on the initiator” [5] is a clear text.

The upshot is that when this lowly one arrived at India, I noticed that many savages, who don’t know the difference between alif and bā’, were taking this treatise around to various places, and encouraging people, giving them the idea of circulating it…This is why I felt it appropriate for the purpose of making people informed, a short treatise called al-Shihāb al-Thāqib ‘ala l-Mustariq al-Kādhib be circulated in which the slanders and lies of “Ḥaḍrat Mujaddid al-Muḍillīn” (reviver of the deviators), and the reality of the slanders against the innocent Elders [6], and the details of such deceptions are known – which he undertook to fulfil his egotistic wants and satanic desires, and for which day and night he remained in thought and concern.

There are two chapters and a conclusion to this short treatise:

Chapter One: An explanation of the deceits and deceptions undertaken in order to acquire the fatwās, and there are many angles to this.

Chapter Two: On an exposé of the allegations against the Elders and detailed answers to them. There are 9 sections in this [chapter]: The first section is on an explanation of the allegation against Mawlānā Nānotwī (Allāh’s mercy be upon him). The second section is an explanation of Khatm al-Nubuwwa in brief. The third section is on explaining the allegation against Mawlānā Gangohī (Allāh’s mercy be upon him). The fourth section is an explanation of the issue of the possibility and impossibility [of lying]. The fifth section is on explaining the allegation against Mawlānā Sahāranpūrī (may his blessing remain). The sixth section is on explaining the passage from al-Barāhīn al-Qāṭi‘ah. The seventh section is on explaining the second allegation against Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Sahāranpūrī (may his blessings remain). The eighth section is on explaining the allegation against Mawlānā Thānawī (may his blessing remain). The ninth section is a clarification of Mawlānā Thānawī’s passage in Ḥifẓ al-Īmān. (al-Shihāb al-Thāqib, Dār al-Kitāb, p. 198-202, 214)

[1] Ṣaḥīḥ al-BukhārīṢaḥīḥ Muslim

[2] ‘Allāmah Munāwī writes: “Ḥāfiẓ al-‘Irāqī was asked about what is famous on the tongues, vis-a-vis the ḥadīth, ‘the ‘ulamā’ of my ummah are like the prophets of the Banū Isrā’īl’. He said: ‘There is no basis for it nor a chain with this wording. [The ḥadīth]: “the ‘ulamā’ are the heirs of the Prophets,” frees [us] of [the need for] it; and that is an authentic ḥadīth.” (Fayḍ al-Qadīr, 4:384)

[3] He is described in Nuzhat al-Khawāṭir as follows: “The shaykh, the righteous ‘ālim, Muḥammad Ma‘ṣūm ibn ‘Abd al-Rashīd ibn Aḥmad Sa‘īd al-‘Umarī al-Sirhindī thumma l-Dehlawī, one of the prominent ‘ulamā’ in fiqh and ḥadīth. He was born in Delhi on the 9th of Shawwāl, in the year 1263 (1847 CE). He studied ‘ilm with ‘Allāmah Muḥammad Nawāb ibn Sa‘dullāh al-Khāliṣpūrī and with his father. Then he received ḥadīth, tafsīr etc. from the uncle of his father, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Ghanī ibn Abī Sa‘īd al-‘Umarī al-Dehlawī. He took ṭarīqah from his grandfather, Shaykh Aḥmad Sa‘īd, and travelled with him to the two noble ḥarams in the year 1274 (1858). When his grandfather died, he kept the company of his father in Madīnah Munawwarah and took from him. When his father died, he arrived at India and lived in Rāmpūr, and Nawāb Kalb ‘Alī Khān al-Rāmpūrī honoured his visit, and made a stipend of four hundred rupees per month for him so he was happy to stay there; he stayed there for a long time, and then travelled to the Ḥijāz and lived in Madīnah Munawwarah. I [Sayyid ‘Abd al-Ḥayy] met him in Rāmpūr. He was a pious shaykh, dignified, of immense position and great stature. He teaches and gives instruction of dhikr to his disciples in morning and evening. He has numerous works. He died on the tenth of Sha‘bān in the year 1341 (1923).” (Nuzhat al-Khawāṭir, p. 1373)

[4] He is described in Nuzhat al-Khawāṭir as follows: “The shaykh, the ‘ālim, the muḥaddith: Munawwar ‘Alī ibn Maẓhar al-Ḥaqq al-Ḥanafī. He was born and brought up in Rāmpūr. He read the short texts with his father and then with Mawlānā Muḥammad Ṣiddīq al-Rāmpūrī. Then he received Manṭiq and philosophy from ‘Allāmah ‘Abd al-Ḥaqq ibn Faḍl Ḥaqq al-Khayrābādī, and received ḥadīth from Sayyid Muḥammad Shāh ibn Ḥasan Shāh al-Ḥusaynī al-Rāmpūrī. Then he took up a teaching position at Madrasa ‘Āliya, where he taught for some time. Then he travelled to the Ḥijāz in the year 1323 (1905), performed ḥajj and ziyārah, and remained there for a full year, and then returned to India. He died in the year 1351 (1932).” (Nuzhat al-Khawāṭir, p. 1385)

[5] Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim

[6] For a detailed refutation of these slanders, one may read the second chapter of al-Shihāb al-Thāqib in Urdu, or the English translation of Fayṣlah Kun Munāẓarah available at the following link: ahlussunnah.boards.net/thread/35/decisive-debate-deobandi-barelwi-conflict

——————

Response of the Arab Scholars to Aḥmad Riḍa Khān’s Visit to the Ḥijaz

[Summarised from Mawlānā Ḥusayn Aḥmad Madanī’s al-Shihāb al-Thāqib, p. 202 – 215]

Aḥmad Riḍā Khān arrived at Makkah in the year 1323 H (1905 CE). A short while after he completed the ḥajj, a document was sent from India to Mawlānā Muḥammad Ma‘ṣūm (an Indian scholar residing in Makkah) for it to be presented to the Sharīf of Makkah. The document was intended to warn the Sharīf that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān was a person of fitnah who is very liberal in issuing fatwās of takfīr, tafsīq and taḍlīl to support his strange views. It also mentioned some of his misguided opinions. The document contained signatures from several scholars of India.

A close confidante of the Sharīf, ‘Abd al-Qādir al-Shaybī, came to know of this document. He became enraged at seeing it, and said he will himself take it to the Sharīf. The Sharīf also became very angry, and both he and al-Shaybī made a firm resolution for Aḥmad Riḍā Khān to at once be put in prison. Mawlānā Ḥusayn Aḥmad Madanī here mentions that he came to know of this resolution through several reliable means. (al-Shihāb al-Thāqib, p. 203) However, Mawlānā Muḥammad Ma‘ṣūm and Mawlānā Munawwar ‘Alī Rāmpūrī both insisted to al-Shaybī that he not be put in prison, but instead be interrogated on his beliefs. It appears their motives were for their country, India, to not come into disrepute on account of one of their fellow countrymen being imprisoned in the Ḥijaz. Al-Shaybī agreed.

The works of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān were not at this time available in Makkah, but there was an Urdu commendation he had written on the work of a scholar from Rāmpūr. (Mawlānā Madanī is probably referring to an early edition of: al-Anwār al-Sāṭi‘ah). Based on the contents of this commendation, he was asked three questions: on his usage of azalī (pre-eternal) and abadī (eternal) for the knowledge possessed by the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam); his statement that not even an atom’s weight is excluded from his (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) knowledge; and his conclusion with the words: “blessings be upon the first, the last, the manifest and the hidden” (صلى الله على الأول والآخر والظاهر والباطن), terms that are used in this sequence for Allāh in the Qur’ān. He was told that without clarifying his position on these issues, he will not be free to leave Makkah. Hence, a week or two later, he answered with his usual tact of obfuscation, as follows: by azalī, I meant the start of the world, not “beginningless” as it usually means; there is a mistranslation, I did not say an “atom’s weight” in the Urdu; and there is a typographical error in this phrase, it should have read: “blessing be upon the manifestation (maẓhar) of the First, the Last, the Manifest and the Hidden.” These answers were of course unsatisfactory, so the Sharīf wished that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān be removed from Makkah as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān had expressed great pride in his belief that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) possessed full and complete knowledge of everything that was and will be from the start of the world until its end. He presented his findings to the Makkan scholar he found most connection with, Shaykh Muftī Ṣāliḥ Kamāl. The latter then argued on behalf of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān with two learned Makkan scholars: Shaykh Aḥmad Faqīh and Shaykh Shu‘ayb al-Mālikī, the latter of whom was at that time “Makkah’s greatest scholar, no-one having a study circle equal to his in the Noble Ḥaram.” (al-Shihāb al-Thāqib, p. 205) Shaykh Ṣāliḥ Kamāl was defeated, and these two scholars put it to him that he is arguing on behalf of someone who is clearly misguided. The argument became heated, and eventually came to the attention of the Sharīf, who realised from this episode also that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān is someone stirring up fitnah. On account of this too, he wanted Aḥmad Riḍā Khān to be escorted out of Makkah at the earliest convenience. Mawlānā Ḥusayn Aḥmad Madanī here mentions that he has presented these details in brief, and if anyone would like more information, he is free to contact Shaykh Shu‘ayb al-Mālikī, Shaykh Aḥmad Faqīh, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qādir al-Shaybī, Shaykh Muḥammad Ma‘ṣum or Mawlānā Munawwar ‘Alī Rāmpūrī (who were all alive at the time). (p. 205)

While this was going on, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān sent a message to the Sharīf via Shaykh Ṣāliḥ Kamāl, stating that you are making this great fuss over me even though I am from the leaders of Ahl al-Sunnah wa l-Jamā‘ah, all the while there is a man here in Makkah [referring to ‘Allāmah Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī, who had also come to perform ḥajj in the same year] who (na‘ūdhu billāh) regards Allāh as being untruthful and Satan as having more knowledge than the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), and he has not been admonished in the slightest! When this message reached the Sharīf, Shaykh Aḥmad Faqīh and Shaykh Shu‘ayb al-Mālikī who were present with him, both said that it is not possible that any Muslim could say such speech and this is pure slander. The Sharīf agreed with them. As a result, Shaykh Ṣāliḥ Kamāl felt quite embarrassed for conveying this message.

Up to this point, Shaykh Shu‘ayb had not met Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī. When this reached Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī he made a visit to Shaykh Shu‘ayb and spoke to him. He explained that this slander was directed at him, and he doesn’t at all hold these impure beliefs. He explained, however, that he supports the view of the rational possibility of Allāh going back on His word, while he believes its occurrence is completely impossible. Shaykh Shu‘ayb responded that as soon as he heard the allegation, he knew it to be a lie, and said the view that Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī espoused is supported by the statements of the Mutakallimūn. After Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī explained what he actually said in his al-Barāhīn al-Qāṭi‘ah with respect to the knowledge of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) and demonstrated that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān was guilty of slander, Shaykh Shu‘ayb agreed with him completely, and even went on to present many evidences from Qur’ān and ḥadīths from memory proving that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s view that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) has full and thorough knowledge of all creation is false. They also engaged in further discussions.

Following this, Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī also visited Muftī Ṣāliḥ Kamāl. At first, Muftī Ṣāliḥ Kamāl was uneasy with the meeting because of what he had heard from Aḥmad Riḍā Khān. However, once Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī explained the truth, he became fully content and accepted everything Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī said.

These were events that took place following the ḥajj. Mawlānā Ḥusayn Aḥmad Madani explains that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān had intended to blemish the honour of Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī before the ḥajj, but by Divine Aid, he fell ill and was unable to carry out his plans. And at this time, Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī saw a dream in which Ḥājī Imdādullāh Muhājir Makkī appeared to him and tied something around his waist – which was interpreted as divine assistance (imdādullāh) coming to him. (al-Shihāb al-Thāqib, p. 207) After performing the ḥajj, when Aḥmad Riḍā Khān intended to go forward with his plans, the aforementioned events unfolded starting with the document that came from India – so rather than Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī getting into trouble, it was he that fell into serious trouble! By Divine Aid, Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī performed the ḥajj with complete ease and peace of mind, and then proceeded to Madīnah without any blemish to his honour. On the other hand, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān was at the time that Mawlānā left for Madīnah, humiliatingly forced to remain in Makkah to answer the questions put to him.

[In Naqsh e Ḥayāt, Mawlānā Madanī briefly describes Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī’s visit to Madīnah: “At the start of 1324 H, Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Ṣāḥib arrived at Madīnah Munawwarah after completing the ḥajj, and remained there for approximately fifteen days. Since he was amongst my noble teachers, this is why the students of Madīnah Munawwarah flocked to him, and generally, the ‘Ulamā’ of Madīnah came to visit and receive him. A very large group took ijāzah of the books of ḥadīth and the sciences from him in a large circle within the Noble Masjid, after hearing the opening sections of the books of ḥadīths.” (Naqsh e Ḥayāt, p. 118) He further mentions that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān only arrived at Madīnah some time after Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī had already departed.]

Aḥmad Riḍā Khān had prepared a short treatise full of deception, fraud and deceit, intended to excite the emotions of simple ‘Ulamā’. (This treatise together with signed approvals of it were later compiled as Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn). Following the above events, he took his treatise to the ‘Ulamā’ of Makkah to get their signed approvals of it. Simple and gullible ‘Ulamā’ were deceived by his words and his flattery of them. However, the great ‘Ulamā’ of Makkah (some of whom were already aware of his nature) saw right through him, and based on their natural intelligence and foresight, knew better than to give their endorsements to his fatwā. The following are some of these great scholars:

1. “The most eminent shaykh, the greatest man of virtue, one unmatched in his era, unique in his time, the perspicacious ocean, the vast ocean, the Nawawī of the time, the Rāzī of the present era, the respected, Shaykh Ḥasabullāh al-Makkī al-Shāfi’ī” [1244 – 1335 H/1828 – 1917 CE]. He was a contemporary and equal to the deceased Shāfi‘ī muftī, Shaykh Aḥmad Zaynī Daḥlān. He was an intelligent, perceptive, pious and scrupulous scholar. In all sciences in general, and Shāfi‘ī fiqh and tafsīr in particular, there was no one equal to him in the whole of Makkah. Mawlānā Madanī says: “Further, in age he has surpassed eighty years. In these days, he has lost his eyesight. Many of the ‘Ulamā’ of the two ḥarams are from his students. It is heard often from the Shāfi‘īs that in Makkah Mu‘aẓẓamah there is no greater scholar in the Shāfi‘ī madhhab than him. Anyone who stopped by at Makkah for even a few days will most certainly come to know of him. Whoever wants may ask the people of the two noble ḥarams of his condition. This lowly one has not given his description in any way that matches with his real condition. In brief, he, on account of precaution, refused to endorse ‘Mujaddid Ṣāḥib’s’ treatise.” (al-Shihāb al-Thāqib, p. 208) [Note: Mawlānā Madanī narrated ḥadīth from Shaykh Ḥasabullāh. See: al-Arba‘ūna Ḥadīthan by Shaykh Yāsīn al-Fādānī, p. 59; Cherāgh e Muḥammad, p. 106]

2. “The sun of the sky of investigation, the full moon of the cosmos of scrutinisation, combiner of rational and transmitted [knowledge], gatherer of peripherals and principles, the imām of the muḥaddithīn, the chief of the mufassirīn, Mawlānā Shaykh Shu‘ayb al-Mālikī, may his blessings last, Mālikī imām and khaṭib at the Noble Ḥaram.” His study circle was the greatest in the ḥaram. He had memorised thousands of ḥadīths with both matn and isnād.

3. “The eminent imām, the noble man of virtue, pivot of purity and chivalry, chief of generosity and courage, foremost amongst the knights of the rational sciences, gatherer of the highest positions in the fields of transmitted sciences, Mawlānā Shaykh Aḥmad Faqīh, imām and khaṭīb at the noble ḥaram, may his excellence remain.” He was also a man of great learning. These latter two scholars were also amongst the close associates of the Sharīf.

4. “Chief of the practising scholars, leader of the perfect men of virtue, one adept in the sciences of Arabic, surpassing his contemporaries in the literary sciences, the master of the muḥaddithīn and the imām of the mutakallimīn, Mawlānā Shaykh ‘Abd al-Jalīl Āfandī al-Ḥanafī.” He was a man of great piety and grew to an old age. He was unparalleled in the field of Arabic literature. He died at the start of the year 1327 H (1909 CE). Although originally a scholar of Madīnah, he remained in Makkah for several years. He was present at Makkah when Aḥmad Riḍā Khān made his visit. The latter took his treatise to him to get his signed approval, but “being a man of experience, intelligence and perceptiveness, and a person of great age, he immediately recognised that he is not someone to be trusted.” (al-Shihāb al-Thāqib, p. 209) [Note: Mawlānā Madanī also narrated ḥadīth from him. See: Cherāgh e Muḥammad, p. 106]

Mawlānā Madanī comments: “These four individuals were at this time, from the greatest and most famous of the ‘Ulamā’ of Makkah. Their condition in knowledge, virtue and excellence was most certainly not found in those whose seals and approvals ‘Mujaddid al-Taḍlīl’s’ hands had touched. Whoever wishes may discover their conditions from the people of Makkah themselves.” (ibid.) There were other senior scholars who refused to sign the fatwā also, but these four famous ‘Ulamā’ are sufficient for our purposes. There were more junior ‘Ulamā’ who either in search of fame or due to their simplicity became prey to Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s trickery, and gave their signed approvals to his fatwā. Many of these ‘Ulamā’ are such that they “have no part in academic ability, and nor are they involved in studying and teaching, and are not even counted amongst the ‘Ulamā’ of Makkah!” (ibid.) [1]

With regards to the situation in Madīnah, Mawlānā Madanī mentions that he is more acquainted with this as he was himself present in Madīnah at the time, and had been for several years. A few days after his arrival, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān very secretively visited several individuals with his treatise, asking for their signed approvals. Some of the ‘Ulamā’ there already had a good opinion of him from what was presented to them by his associates, regarding some discussions he made on some unfamiliar, peripheral issues that they had not previously examined – like the issue of paper money. These associates boasted of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s skills in debate and his having authored hundreds of works. But despite all this, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān made attempts to acquire their seals in secrecy. Mawlānā Madanī argues that he did this for fear that had it been done openly, Mawlānā Madanī would have interfered and exposed his lies. [2]

Unlike the condition in Makkah, ‘Ulamā’ of Madīnah did not hold a negative view of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān: some had positive views of him and others were neutral. Even still, some of the most famous and eminent scholars of Madīnah did not fall for his deceptions, and refused to sign his fatwā. Others who did sign, later became aware of his lies, while others clearly put conditions to their endorsements, stating that only if the information in the question is correct will the ruling be as he mentioned.

Mawlānā Sayyid Aḥmad Barzanjī, the mufti of the Shāfi‘īs, initially felt that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān was reliable and a person of learning. Based on this good opinion, he signed his treatise, and even encouraged others to do so. However, when he had his final meeting with him in the house of Sayyid ‘Abdullāh Madanī, and they discussed the issue of ‘ilm al-ghayb, he realised the academic and ideological reality of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān, and began to regret his previous actions. At this time, he took back his commendation and demanded his seal be erased, and told them that he has come to realise that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān is a person of misguidance, and spoke very harshly to him.

Muftī Aḥmad Barzanjī himself told Mawlānā Madanī afterwards that on the following day, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s son came to him, kissed his feet and hands, and begged him to keep the seal on the commendation, saying: “Do not take back the endorsement because we have no disagreement on these issues, and while we disagree on the issue of ‘ilm al-ghayb, let that remain as it is.” He also showed extreme flattery and servility in speech and actions. Muftī Aḥmad Barzanjī used some harsh words, but feeling embarrassed at his pleading, said it will be fine to keep the seal. However, he also pointed out that the seal is of no benefit to them, because he made his endorsement conditional.

A number of other ‘Ulamā’ from the ḥaramayn made their endorsements conditional. (Mawlānā Madanī quotes some of these on page 215-6). [3] Mawlānā Madanī notes that even those ‘Ulamā’ who did not put conditions, it is obvious that their endorsements were premised on the information in the treatise being correct.

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

Aḥmad Riḍā Khān rushed back to India soon after this debacle. Some of the great ‘Ulamā’ of Madīnah refused to sign his treatise. Mawlānā Madanī lists a total of 25 such scholars as examples (p. 212-3). Five of these are as follows:

1. Shaykh Yāsīn al-Miṣrī al-Shāfi‘ī, who would lecture on taṣawwuf and Shāfi‘ī fiqh in the morning at Bāb al-Raḥmah.

2. The muḥaddith and mufassir, Shaykh ‘Abdullāh al-Nābulsī al-Ḥanbalī [1247 – 1331 H], who taught ḥadīth, tafsīr and Ḥanbalī fiqh after ‘Aṣr and Maghrib, and was a person of great age, piety and knowledge. He was also regarded as a great teacher.

3. Shaykh ‘Abd al-Ḥakīm al-Bukhārī, a learned and elderly scholar.

4. Sayyid Amīn Riḍwān al-Shāfi‘ī a very elderly and pious man. From those who gave ijāza for Dalā’il al-Khayrāt at this time, none were greater than him.

5. Shaykh Ma’mūn Barrī al-Āfandi, who was the main khaṭīb of Masjid Nabawī.

[1] See the testimony of Shaykh Bashīr al-Ibrāhīmī below which also mentions that many of the scholars delivering lessons at the ḥaram were weak in knowledge. (Although his testimony is regarding the ḥaram of Madīnah, not Makkah, the situation was probably similar in both places).

[2] Mawlānā Madanī explains his role in the matter in more detail in Naqsh e Ḥayāt as follows: “These proceedings were undertaken with great effort and secrecy. I was only aware that he was making efforts to come to these ‘Ulamā’, Muftīs and people of influence, but I had absolutely no knowledge that he had some [specific] agenda behind these undertakings. I only thought that since Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Ṣāḥib had just visited, and great scholars and many students met with him here, and acquired sanad of ḥadīth and ijāzah, having gained acceptance amongst the people of learning, haters and enemies would like to spread propaganda against him, and in so doing against us [also]. But together with his, I also thought that if anything would be said against us or our Akābir, at the minimum, we would be asked about it. Several days passed in this manner. Then, after investigating I came to know he is getting endorsements for some write-up, so I searched for what this write-up was. In the end, when this write-up reached Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qādir al-Shalabī al-Ṭarāblusī*, he called me and showed me the treatise. I informed him of the reality of the matter. Then I went to Amīn al-Fatwā Shaykh ‘Umar Ḥammād, and showed him the passages of Taḥdhīr al-NāsFatāwā Rashīdiyyah etc., upon which he expressed great remorse [for having signed the fatwā]. Then I went to the muftī of the Ḥanafīs, Tāj al-Dīn Ilyās, and explained the full reality to him, and he too expressed great remorse, and said: ‘We had no knowledge of the reality, so why did you not inform us earlier?’ Since I had deep connections with them before – Muftī Ṣāḥib’s grandson would read to me and youngsters of high families from the people of Madīnah were either close to me or read to me** – this is why I said: ‘I trusted that if any information reached you regarding me or any of my teachers, you would most certainly have asked me.’ He replied: ‘I had no knowledge that those individuals were your teachers! Anyhow, what has happened has happened. We were very careful in endorsing, and said that if in reality these individuals hold these views and beliefs and their retraction has not been proven, then the view of the author of the treatise is correct. If I had knowledge of this before, I wouldn’t have even given this endorsement.’ Other individuals gave similar answers.” (Naqsh e Ḥayāt, 137-8) Before the ‘Ulamā’ of Madīnah could take any action after having learnt of the reality, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān hurried back to India.

[3] Mawlānā Madanī writes: “Those scholars of dīn with regards to whom he acquired fatwās of kufr from the two ḥarams, he put false allegations against them, of which they are completely innocent and pure. Such beliefs and ideas were attributed to them which those sanctified scholars of Hindustan are completely free of, and which they themselves regard as kufr. The scholars of the two noble ḥarams gave their answer in accordance to the question, and gave the judgement of kufr on those who maintain such beliefs, because everyone knows that the answer is written in accordance with the question. If this question was written, putting this allegation and slander on someone else, and presented before those sanctified scholars, they too would give a judgement of kufr. Thus, several questions came in the service of Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Gangohī, [asking]: ‘What is the ruling on the person who regards Satan as more knowledgeable than the Messenger of Allāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) or God as being untruthful?’ He issued a fatwā of kufr on these [beliefs]. We will later present the quotations from his Fatāwā. This is why some intelligent and careful scholars of the two noble ḥarams wrote that if the questioner’s description is accurate and these individuals really do hold these beliefs, [only then] are they kāfirs and people of jahannam. Thus by way of example, the statements of a few scholars, from their fatwās, will be quoted. One scholar said: ‘One who adopts these views, believing in them as clarified in this treatise, there is no doubt that he is from the misguided.’ (من قال بهذه الأقوال معتقدا لها كما هي مبسوط في هذه الرسالة لا شبهة أنه من الضالين)…A second scholar wrote: ‘They are – when the outcome is what you have mentioned – deviant disbelievers.’ (فهم والحاصل ما ذكرت كفرة مارقون)…A third scholar said: ‘One who asserts this has disbelieved.’ (من ادعى ذلك فقد كفر)…A fourth scholar was extremely careful, and wrote with great clarity that if these matters are proven from those individuals, that is those things that the Barelwī Shaykh has written, of Ghulām Aḥmad claiming prophethood, and it is proven from Mawlānā Rashīd Aḥmad Ṣāḥib, Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Ṣāḥib and Mawlānā Ashraf ‘Alī that they disrespected the Messenger of Allāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace), then there is no doubt in these individuals having committing kufr and deserving execution. (إن ثبت عنهم ما ذكره هذا الشيخ من ادعاء النبوة للقادياني وانتقاص النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم من رشيد أحمد وخليل أحمد وأشرف علي المذكورين فلا شك في كفرهم ووجوب قتلهم)…In a fifth place, in a lengthy write-up, there are these words: ‘This is the ruling on these groups and individuals if these vile beliefs are established from them.’ (هذا حكم هؤلاء الفرق والأشخاص إن ثبت عنهم هذه المقالات الشنيعة)…Even those individuals in whose statement this condition is not found, their intent is also this, because the ruling is on the one who believes in these things.” (al-Shihāb al-Thāqib, p. 215-6)

* On Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qādir al-Ṭarāblusī’s views on Aḥmad Riḍā Khān, see: zakariyya.wordpress.com/2007/04/02/molwi-ahmed-radha-khan-among-the-arab-ulama/

** Mawlānā Ḥusayn Aḥmad Madanī’s teaching and lectures in al-Masjid al-Nabawī in Madīnah were well-received by the people. He was also a highly-regarded scholar. The reason for his acceptance may be gleaned from the following testimony of Shaykh Bashīr al-Ibrāhīmī, a contemporary and student of Mawlānā Ḥusayn Aḥmad Madanī. Shaykh Bashīr al-Ibrāhīmī (1889 – 1965 CE) was a well-known scholar from North Africa of the last century who had travelled to Cairo, Damascus and Ḥijāz, and sat with many of their scholars. He arrived in Madīnah towards the end of the year 1911 CE. Near the end of his life, when writing a short autobiography, he wrote the following while describing his stay at Madīnah: “I circled the circles of ‘Ilm at the Prophetic Ḥaram, testing [them out]. None of them stood out to me, but it was [like] froth put out by a group having no connection with ‘Ilm or Taḥqīq. I did not find true ‘Ilm except with two men, who are my teachers: Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azīz al-Wazīr al-Tūnisī and Shaykh Ḥusayn Aḥmad al-Fayḍ Abādī al-Hindī. These two, truth be told, are erudite scholars, their horizons of perception vast in the sciences of ḥadīth and understanding of Sunnah. I had no interest in anything besides extra knowledge of ḥadīth, both in transmission and understanding, and knowledge of tafsīr, so I stuck by them as a shadow. I took al-Muwaṭṭa’ from the first with understanding, and then his erudition in the remaining Islamic sciences struck me, so I remained in his lessons on Mālik’s fiqh and his lessons on al-Tawḍīḥ of Ibn Hishām. I accompanied the second [i.e. Mawlānā Ḥusayn Aḥmad Madanī] in his lessons on Ṣaḥīḥ MuslimI give testimony that I have not seen an equal to these two shaykhs from the ‘Ulamā’ of Islām till now. I have reached old age and I have great experience, and I have consummate skill in some sciences, and I have met from the mashāyikh as [many as] Allāh wanted me to meet. But I have not seen the like of these two shaykhs in eloquence of expression, depth of insight, delving into meanings, illuminating ideas, clarification of ambiguities and bringing distant meanings closer. Because of my expansive reading of books of biographies, I had formed an image of a prominent scholar in the Islāmic sciences, derived from how the biographical literature would describe some of those that they put in their biographies. For a long time, I did not believe that that mental image would materialise in external reality. But I found it realised in these two eminent scholars. Shaykh al-Wazīr died in Madīnah at the wake of the First World War. As for Shaykh Ḥusayn Aḥmad, Sharīf Ḥusayn ibn ‘Alī handed him over to the English at the end of his ill-fated revolution, and they exiled him to Mālṭah, and then they sent him back to his original hometown of India. He lived there for years, and the leadership of ‘Ilm culminated at him in the City of Knowledge, Deoband. When I visited Pakistan in the year 1952 CE, I wrote to him and he insisted that I visit India, but that was not destined for me. In these latter times, it has reached me that he passed away in India.” (Āthār al-Imām Muḥammad al-Bashīr al-Ibrāhīmī, 5:275-6)


Clarification on Imkān al-Kidhb

January 27, 2017

The below was initially written as a response to two objections made by an individual writing on the internet. Since it brings much-needed clarity to the Deobandi position on this subject, and briefly addresses some of the most common objections to it, the response is being reproduced here.

Note: Some small additions/alterations have been made to the original response; and direct reference to the individual who was responded to has been removed.

Question 1

Did the author of al-Muhannad claim it is possible for Allāh to act against what He promised?

Response

It is necessary to differentiate between two different concepts:

One is the logical or rational possibility (imkān ‘aqlī) of a proposition, and the other is its occurrence or materialisation.

For Allāh to act against what He has promised is rationally possible, but its occurrence is impossible. A “rational possibility” does not preclude the impossibility of actual occurrence. It only means that the proposition is not in itself inconceivable: the mind does not preclude its possibility a priori.

Allāh’s power connects to everything that is logically/rationally possible. To say otherwise would be to attribute a deficiency to Him. As the mutakallimūn said: “قدرته تعالى يعم سائر الممكنات” “كل ممكن مقدور” “المقتضي للقادرية هو الذات والمصحح للمقدورية هو الإمكان”. Al-Dawwānī said to not have power of some things that are possible (mumkin) is an imperfection, which is not possible for Allāh. (العجز عن البعض نقص وهو على الله تعالى محال)

Consider the propositions: “a wicked and wretched disbeliever like Fir‘awn is put into Jannah” or “a pious believer is put into Jahannam.” There is no rational absurdity in these propositions. The mind does not regard these as inconceivable or impossible in themselves (unlike, for example, the propositions: “the number 2 is odd”, “8 is a prime number” and so on). Hence, the Qudrah of Allāh connects to them as Allāh has the power to do everything that is rationally possible. Similarly, the mind does not preclude the possibility of these things even after Allāh’s promise. Allāh’s promise that a pious believer will not enter Jahannam does not make it rationally impossible for a pious believer to enter Jahannam. Hence, the Qudrah still connects to it. Yes, the promise makes its occurrence impossible.

This was precisely the response of the Ash‘ari theologians to the arguments of the Mu‘tazila (particularly, the followers of Naẓẓām) that “punishing a pious believer” and other apparently ugly acts are not in Allāh’s power. In response to this argument of the Naẓẓāmiyya, it states in Sharḥ al-Mawāqif: “The response is that there is nothing ugly in relation to Him because everything is subordinate to Him, thus He may do with it as He pleases. And even if it is accepted that the act is ugly in relation to Him, the most that can be said is that it won’t occur due to the presence of something stopping it, i.e. its ugliness, and that does not negate power over it.” (والجواب أنه لا قبح بالنسبة إليه فإن الكل ملكه فله أن يتصرف فيه على أي وجه أراد، وإن سلم قبح الفعل بالنسبة إليه فغايته عدم الفعل بوجود الصارف عنه وهو القبح وذلك لا ينفى القدرة عليه)

The same thing is mentioned in other works, like Sharḥ al-Maṭāli‘, Ṭawali‘ al-Rūmi and Sharḥ al-Ṣaḥa’if. Quotes can be found at the following link:

https://barelwism.wordpress.com/2015/10/22/%D9%85%D8%B3%D8%A3%D9%84%D8%A9-%D8%A5%D9%85%D9%83%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%83%D8%B0%D8%A8-%D9%88%D9%85%D9%88%D9%82%D9%81-%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%A1-%D8%AF%D9%8A%D9%88%D8%A8%D9%86%D8%AF-%D9%85/

The mistake of the Mu‘tazila (Naẓẓāmiyya), in the words of Sharḥ al-Mawāqif, is as follows: “They presumed that purifying Allāh from despicable and ugly things is only by negating His power over them. In doing so, they are like one who flees from rain and stands under a drain!” (توهموا أن تنزيهه تعالى من الشرور والقابئح لا يكون إلا بسلب قدرته عليها، فهم في ذلك كمن هرب من المطر إلى الميزاب)

This is precisely the mistake made by those who say Allāh does not have the power to act against what He has promised or He does not have the power to create a speech that does not conform to reality. They say: We can only say He is free from these things by negating His power over them. But the Ash‘ari theologians responded that by negating His power, you are limiting the power of Allāh. There is no rational absurdity or impossibility in these propositions, so they must fall under His power. Yes, their occurrence from Him is impossible because His divine intent does not connect to them on account of His wisdom, fairness and so on.

On the question of kidhb/kadhib itself, it is first necessary to understand the nature of kidhb. Kidhb is defined as the act of producing a sentence that does not conform to reality. As the Deobandi author of Juhd al-Muqill states, we all agree that after Ādam (‘alayhissalām) ate from the tree, it was in the power of Allāh Ta‘āla to produce the sentence “Ādam disobeyed His Lord” (عصى آدم ربه) and then to send it down to a chosen prophet. Not only does everyone agree that it is in His power, but they agree that it actually happened, as it is in the Qur’ān. Now, if hypothetically Ādam (‘alayhissalam) actually did not eat from the tree, would producing this sentence and sending it down on a chosen prophet be excluded from the power of Allāh? It is obvious that if it is in His power after Ādam (‘alayhissalam) ate from the tree, it would also be in His power before this, and it would also be in His power in the hypothetical situation that he never ate from the tree. The Qudra of Allāh does not change. It does not become limited or constrained. Yes, there are things that are within the Qudra of Allāh which will actualise and others that will never actualise. But this is due to the divine will (irāda), and not due to any limit in the Qudra.

It is important to understand what “kidhb” means in this context. (See: muqaddimas 4 and 6 from the link given above). “Kidhb” does not characterise a person. Nor is it an intrinsic characteristic of speech. A “speech” in and of itself is not described as “truthful” or “false.” It is only described in this way relative to its context. For example, the proposition “Zayd is standing” in one context would be described as “true” and in another context as “false.” Hence, “true” and “false” neither (primarily) characterise a person, nor are they intrinsic qualities of speech. In our context, kidhb means: producing a speech that does not conform to reality. In other words: does Allāh have the power to create a speech that is untrue, and then send it down to a chosen prophet or angel? It is clear that since “kidhb” is not primarily a characteristic of a being/person, nor intrinsically a characteristic of the speech itself, it does not entail any change within the Dhāt (Being) of Allāh. Moreover, there is nothing in this proposition – i.e. “words/sounds coming into existence that give a meaning that does not conform to reality” – that is intrinsically impossible. Hence, the Qudra definitely connects to it, based on the fact that the Qudra connects to everything possible.

A question that some people have at this point is the nature of Allāh’s “speech.” For a full discussion on this issue, refer to muqaddima 4 from the link given above. In brief, there are two kinds of speech as it relates to Allāh:

  1. One is a single, undifferentiated, simple attribute subsisting within the essence of Allāh. This is commonly known as “Kalām Nafsī.”
  2. The second is the words and sentences arranged by Allāh, created into sounds or letters, and then brought down to one of His creatures. This is known as “Kalām Lafẓī.” [وليس كلام الله تعالى إلا ما رتبه الله تعالى بنفسه من غير واسطة والكلمات لا تعاقب بينها فى الوجود العلمي حتى يلزم حدوثها وإنما التعاقب بينها فى الوجود الخارجي، وهو بحسب هذا الوجود كلام لفظي]

It is important to understand that the single undifferentiated attribute of “Kalām Nafsī” does not itself consist of statements, whether declarative, imperative or otherwise. Rather, these statements exist only within the “Kalām Lafẓī.”

[A technical point: Allāh’s knowledge of the meanings of, as well as the contents of, the “Kalām Lafẓī” is eternal, but the Kalām Lafẓī itself is originated. Sometimes, Allāh’s eternal knowledge of the Kalām Lafẓī is also referred to as “Kalām Nafsī”, which can be a source of confusion. The term “Kalām Nafsī” therefore sometimes refers to the eternal attribute of speech in Allāh’s Dhāt, and sometimes to Allāh’s knowledge of what is contained within the Kalām Lafẓī.]

Hence, the Kalām Nafsī itself – that is a single, undifferentiated, attribute within the Dhāt – does not consist of “meanings”. It only “connects” to the meanings and words found in the Kalām Lafẓī just as the Qudra connects to creation. The Kalām Lafẓī also “points to” the Kalām Nafsī just as creation points to Qudra. It doesn’t “point to” it in the sense of words pointing to their meanings, but in the sense of an effect pointing to its cause or to its point of origin. [أقول: ليس معنى كونه عبارة عنه أنه عينه كما قال بعد هذا: أن القرآن عبارة عن هذا المؤلف المخصوص والنحو عبارة عن القواعد المخصوصة، وذلك ظاهر ولا أنه دال عليه بالوضع لأن المدلول الوضعي له هو المعاني الوضعية الحادثة، بل معناه أنه دال عليه عقلا، ودلالة الأثر على مبدئه فإن النطق الظاهر فى الإنسان كما يدل على مبدء له يغاير العلم والقدرة والإرادة كذلك فى الباري تعالى يدل الكلام اللغظي على مبدء له يغاير سائر الصفات]

[For a more thorough discussion, with extensive quotes from the Ash‘ari theologians, refer to muqaddima 4 from the link given above].

The point to take away from this technical discussion is that the speech that is an intrinsic attribute of Allāh Ta‘āla (i.e. the Kalām Nafsī) is not under discussion here, as “ṣidq” and “kidhb” do not even enter into the realm of possibilities when we talk about “Kalām Nafsī”. “Kalām Nafsī” is neither “inshā’” (imperative, interrogative etc. statements) nor “khabar” (declarative statement). It only connects to these types of statements, in just the same way the “Qudra” connects to creation. Hence, “truth” or “falsehood” are inconceivable (ghayr mutaṣawwar) when we talk about “Kalam Nafsī.”

The speech we are talking of in this context is, thus, the created speech that is arranged by Allāh Ta‘āla without the intermediary of any other sentient being, which is then brought down to one of His creatures. This is also part of Allāh’s “speech” as it is not the speech of any other being. Now, this speech is always true because Allāh is truthful, but that does not mean His power over producing an untruthful statement in this speech is negated. This in a nutshell is the Deobandi argument.

Question 2

Does this not mean we cannot know if Allāh is truthful in any particular passage of the Qur’ān?

Response

There are two ways in which something can be said to be unbefitting of Allāh. One is that it entails a contradiction and absurdity. For example “ẓulm” with the meaning that Allāh meddles in another’s ownership without his consent (التصرف في ملك الغير بغير إذنه). This is impossible and does not fall in the Qudra of Allāh since it entails an absurdity. Nothing falls outside the ownership of Allāh, so ẓulm with this meaning cannot apply to Allāh. Such things are intrinsically impossible. Other examples are creating another “God” (how can something created be uncreated?), eating/drinking (how can a Being without body or need eat/drink?) etc.

[Note: ẓulm also has another meaning: to increase a person’s punishment beyond what his crime demands, or to lessen a person’s rewards. This meaning of ẓulm is not excluded from the Qudra of Allāh as it entails no absurdity. Yet, ẓulm even in this meaning will not occur from Allāh for reasons explained below. Ibn Rajab al-Ḥanbalī explains these two different meanings of ẓulm, clarifying that one is intrinsically impossible, while the other is not. (Jāmi‘ al-‘Ulūm wa l-Ḥikam, Dār Ibn Kathīr, p. 513)]

Another way in which something is unbefitting of Allāh is that it is against His nature. Despite being technically possible and being included under His Qudra, such things cannot emanate from Him on account of His nature of fairness (‘adl), wisdom (ḥikma), truthfulness (ṣidq), mercy (raḥma) etc.

An ordinary example is a very pious person who is known to be very pious. Now if an allegation was to be made against this person, our immediate response would be: “he couldn’t have done such a thing!” Not that it is not possible (i.e. he had the ability to do it), but it goes against what we know of his nature and of the way he behaves and conducts himself. In the same way we know Allāh is fair and truthful. This is our experience and knowledge of His nature. He will not punish a pious believer though He has the power to, and He won’t reward a wretched disbeliever though he has the power to. In the same way He will never issue a statement that does not conform to reality, though it is within His power to do so. The Ash‘ari theologians who said doing so is within His power clearly mentioned that it is known by necessity that it will not occur from Him based on our knowledge of His nature.

It states in Sharḥ al-Ṣaḥā’if:

قلت: إن فعل القبيح من غير حاجة محال، فإن أردت أنه محال لذاته فذلك غير مسلم لأنا نعلم ضرورة أن ذلك الفعل لا يقتضى عدمه لذاته، بل نعلم أن نسبة وجوده وعدمه إلى ذاته واحدة، وإن أردت أنه محال لأن الله تعالى قادر حكيم لا يريد أن يفعل مثل ذلك الفعل، فذلك مسلم، لكن ذلك لا يوجب انتفاء القدرة عليه، بل تركه بقدرته وإرادته

“If you mean that an ugly act is intrinsically impossible, we don’t accept that, because we know that there is no intrinsic necessity of that act being non-existent. In fact, we know that to attribute its existence and nonexistence to His Dhāt is one and the same. But if you mean that it is impossible because Allāh is a Wise Agent, and He would not intend to do something like that – this is accepted. But this does not entail He lacks power over it. Rather, He avoids it by His power and His will.”

It states in Sharḥ al-Maqāṣid:

فإن قيل: التمسك بالكتاب والسنة يتوقف على العلم بصدق كلام الله تعالى وكلام الرسول عليه السلام ودلالة المعجزة وهذا لا يتأتى مع القوم بأنه خالق كل شيء حتى الشرور والقبائح وأنه لا يقبح منه التلبيس والتدليس والكذب وإظهار المعجزة على يد الكاذب ونحو ذلك مما يقدح في وجوب صدق كلامه وثبوت النبوة ودلالة المعجزات، قلنا: العلم بانتفاء تلك القوادح وإن كانت ممكنة في نفسها من العاديات الملحقة بالضروريات

“If it is argued: Adhering to the Book and Sunnah depends on knowledge of the truth of the speech of Allah & the Messenger (upon him peace) and the evidence of miracles. This will not be possible if we believe that He is Creator of everything, even ugly things, and that deception, trickery, lying and producing a miracle at the hand of a liar and such things… are not ugly for Him. We answer: Knowledge of the negation of these things that are possible in themselves is based on our knowledge of the normal way [that Allāh operates] (‘ādiyyat) which are annexed to those things that are known by absolute necessity.”

For other similar passages, refer to the link given earlier.

One more point that needs highlighting is that while the Naẓẓāmiyya amongst the Mu‘tazila limited the Qudra of Allāh, and said He does not have the Power to punish a pious believer or to reward a wretched disbeliever etc., another group amongst the Mu‘tazila, known as the “Mazdāriyya,” said that not only does He have power over these things but He may even do them! They believe it is possible for a lie or injustice (in the sense of punishing a pious believer) to actually occur! The Ahlus Sunnah are in between these two extremes. While they do not negate Allāh’s power over these things – as they are rationally possible, and everything rationally possible is included within Allāh’s Qudra –, they clearly state that these acts are unbefitting of Allāh and thus their occurrence from Him is impossible.


Imkan al-Kadhib and non-Deobandis

March 10, 2016

After reading the Arabic summary of the book written by Shaykh al-Hind Mahmud Hasan on the topic of imkan al-kadhib called juhd al-muqill, shaykh Uthman Nabulsi, a non-deobandi scholar commented:

بارك الله فيكم وجزاكم خير الجزاء، الآن حصحص الحق وانجلى كفلق الصبح، فلم يقل الشيخ محمود الحسن ولا غيره بفعلية الكذب في كلام الله تعالى، وما قاله من إمكان الكذب لم يكن بدعة اخترعها من جيبه، بل له فيها سلف من أكابر أهل السنّة ومحقّقيهم، لكن مَنْ قلّ اطلاعه كثر اعتراضه، وعند الله تجتمع الخصوم، ويبقى هذا المقال أفضل ما كتب في هذه المسألة باللغة العربية في حدود اطّلاعي، فهو يبيّن موقف علماء ديوبند بكل جلاء، ومما يزيده قيمة أنّه ثري بالنقول عن ساداتنا الأشاعرة والماتريدية، وسأستفيد منه إلى ما شاء الله تعالى، ولا زال عندي أمل في أخينا الفاضل Abul Hasanat أن يقوم بتلخيص بقية الكتاب، وله خالص الدعاء وجزيل الثواب إن شاء الله تعالى

Note his words:
وما قاله من إمكان الكذب لم يكن بدعة اخترعها من جيبه، بل له فيها سلف من أكابر أهل السنّة ومحقّقيهم
What he said on the possibility of lying is not a bid’a which was invented from his own bag. Rather he has salaf from the elders of ahlus sunnah and their muhaqqiqs.


Juhd al-Muqill of Shaykh al-Hind Mawlana Mahmud Hasan Deobandi

June 14, 2013

Shaykh al-Hind Mawlana Mahmud Hasan Deobandi (1851 – 1920 CE), the great teacher of hadith and mujahid, penned a detailed and in-depth work dealing with the controversial issue of “Imkan al-Kadhib” which Barelwis have made a big issue of late, as it was made a big issue back then. The book in reference is called Juhd al-Muqill fi Tanzih al-Mu‘izz al-Mudhill.

The work spans over hundreds of pages, and is divided into seven introductions and three chapters. The first chapter is devoted to defending the central thesis of the book that kadhib (lying/falsehood) is contained in the power (qudrah) of Allah, although its issuance from Him is impossible, based on the evidence of Qur’an, Sunnah, logic/reason, the statements of the Imams of Kalam and scholars of other disciplines. The second chapter answers objections produced by opponents and the third chapter presents objections and criticisms of the position of the opposition. The first two volumes of the work (i.e. excluding the third chapter) can be found here:

http://ia601201.us.archive.org/30/it…hAl-hind-1.pdf

http://ia701201.us.archive.org/30/it…hAl-hind-2.pdf

Unfortunately someone writing on the internet, in an attempt to discredit the great service presented in this work, characterised it in very unfair terms. This book is a serious study that tackles the subject with balance and erudition from all possible angles in great depth. Even those who do not understand Urdu can read the extensive and useful Arabic citations to classical Kalam works scattered throughout the work. But it is not a mere hotchpotch of quotations (as we find in some “studies”); rather, a critical, thorough and coherent investigation into the matters in question in light of the statements of the Kalam scholars.

I wish, here, to present a brief and extremely selective synopsis of Shaykh al-Hind’s discussion in Juhd al-Muqill, so one can get an idea of the main themes of this important book.

Introduction

He starts by putting the controversy in its historical context. He explains that the highest aspirations of the people of innovation and desires (ahl bida‘ wa ahwa) is to spread their innovations and suppress the people of truth who stand to oppose their innovations, that are described in the hadith: “There will always be a group of my ummah upholding the affair of Allah, unharmed by those who forsake them and oppose them, until the command of Allah comes.” One of the great practising scholars of the previous century was Shah Isma‘il Shahid who opposed the religious ills of his community. Even those of his detractors who have some degree of fairness concede his knowledge, piety, sincerity and righteous conduct. Shaykh al-Hind refers to a few issues for which his detractors attacked him: for example, saying that Allah has the power to issue a statement that is contrary to reality (though will not do so); saying that Allah has the power to create an equal (nazeer) to the Prophet, peace be upon him (though will not do so); considering the Prophet with respect to Allah as powerless as the rest of creation; and regarding him as equal to all children of Adam in the characteristic of being a human being. (None of these issues are, in truth, matters in which Shah Isma‘il stepped outside of the clear teachings of the Qur’an, Sunnah, sayings of Sahabah and imams of Ahl al-Sunnah.) Shah Isma‘il wrote Taqwiyat al-Iman as a gesture of his good will (nasihah) towards the Muslim people of India, to correct the rampant errors of a polytheistic nature prevalent in his time. (Juhd al-Muqill, 1:2)

Those who attacked him were two types of people: “First, those people whose efforts were immersed in innovating in religion, and who considered the popularisation of innovation to be the best of worship, like the rationalists of Badayun, the fanatics of whom believed even having Taqwiyat al-Iman in one’s possession is included in matters of disbelief!” (Juhd al-Muqill, 1:3) Second, those with no expertise in the religious sciences, but who spent their lives in the pursuit of logic, philosophy, mathematics etc (like Fadl Haq Khayrabadi).

In terms of where this particular controversy originated, Shah Isma‘il wrote in Taqwiyat al-Iman: “The nature of this King of Kings (i.e. Allah) is such that if He wished, then [merely] with the order ‘Be,’ He can create millions of prophets, saints, jinn and angels equal to Jibra’il and Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) in one moment, and in one second He can turn the entire creation from the Throne to the earth upside down and put another creation in its place.” In its context, this passage makes complete sense and there is nothing alarming about it or anything contrary to Islamic beliefs.

In response, the logician, Fadl Haqq Khayrabadi wrote Ibtal Imkan Nazeer (Refuting the Possibility of an Equal) in which he tried to prove that it is intrinsically impossible for Allah to create a nazeer of the Prophet; that is, it is rationally inconceivable that a nazeer of the Prophet could exist. Mawlana Isma‘il Shahid wrote a treatise in reply to him. Because Fadl Haqq discussed, as an excursion, the impossibility of lying for Allah, Mawlana Isma‘il replied on this point as follows: “Allah, exalted is His station, has the power in itself of issuing a sentence that is contrary to reality, although based on a wisdom it is impossible for such a thing to occur.” (Juhd al-Muqill, 1:3) Shaykh al-Hind here quotes the entire Persian passage of Shah Isma‘il elaborating on this point (ibid).

When he made this simple proposition, there was a huge uproar from the people of innovation, that led them to declaring him a disbeliever or a heretic. Righteous ‘ulama’ like Mawlana Haydar ‘Ali responded to the critics of Shah Isma‘il. Shaykh al-Hind goes on to discuss other books written by both sides on the issue.

In proving Shah Isma‘il’s original thesis, Shaykh al-Hind presents a few premises before he writes in detail on the matter. I will only make reference to a few things he discussed which I feel are worth highlighting.

Proofs from Kalam Texts

Shaykh al-Hind attempts to demonstrate that the way of the Ahl al-Sunnah in many a controversial issue has been to widen the Power of Allah (to extend it to include all possibilities), yet absolve of Him of any reprehensible act (qabih).

With respect to the issue in question, there are many quotes from the works of Kalam which prove the proposition in question. For example, it says in Sharh al-Mawaqif:

فإن قيل التمسك بالكتاب والسنة يتوقف على العلم بصدق كلام الله تعالى وكلام الرسول عليه السلام ودلالة المعجزة وهذا لا يتأتى مع القول بأنه خالق لكل شيء حتى الشرور والقبائح وأنه لا يقبح منه التلبيس والتدليس والكذب وإظهار المعجزة على يد الكاذب ونحو ذلك مما يقدح في وجوب صدق كلامه وثبوت النبوة ودلالة المعجزات؛ قلنا العلم بانتفاء تلك القوادح وإن كانت ممكنة في نفسها من العاديات الملحقة بالضروريات

“If it is said: Adhering to the Book and Sunnah depends on knowledge of the truth of the speech of Allah (exalted is He) and the Messenger (upon him peace) and the evidence of miracles, and this will not be realised if it is opined that He is Creator of everything even evils and ugly things, and that deception, trickery, lying and producing a miracle at the hand of a liar and the like of them of that which affects the necessity of the integrity of His speech and the establishment of prophethood and the evidence of miracle are not ugly for Him;

“We say: Knowledge of the negation of those affecting things, although possible in themselves, is from the ‘adiyyat which are annexed to the necessary things.” (Sharh al-Mawaqif, 4:238; quoted in Juhd al-Muqill, 1:85)

Shaykh al-Hind Mawlana Mahmudul Hasan comments in Juhd al-Muqill: “Possessors of fairness should notice how explicitly this quoted passage indicates towards lying etc. being [intrinsically] possible and contained in [Allah’s] power.” (ibid)

He quotes other passages from Kalam works that state the same thing. After quoting another passage from Sharh al-Mawaqif, Shaykh al-Hind says:

“This passage also explicitly confirms that the kadhib that has been discussed, although it is possible according to the intellect, but due to other factors impossibility has become incidental upon it. In sum, the issue for the Ahl al-Sunnah is so well-established and explicit, and found in most books of ‘Ilm al-Kalam and Usul, that fair people can never deny it…” (Juhd al-Muqill, 1:86)

Answering an Objection

The above passage also addresses a common objection made against this opinion, that it would mean we cannot put trust in the word of Allah if we were to concede He had the power to issue a statement against reality. The answer to this is that although this is possible in itself (mumkin fi nafsihi), in that it is in His power, intrinsic impossibility is not the only means of the absolute absence of the occurrence of something. The absence of something is also established by Allah’s choice to not do it. Shaykh al-Hind illustrates this using the verse, “And Allah does not intend to oppress the slaves.” (40:31) He writes: “This clearly indicates that the impossibility of the occurrence of injustice, in the sense of putting something in other than its [rightful] place (e.g. punishing an obedient person), is only because the intention of the truly powerful one did not connect to its realisation, not that injustice in the aforementioned [sense] is in itself impossible and outside of the ancient Power.” (Juhd al-Muqill, 1:57) Note: This is when zulm is used in the particular sense described here; Shaykh al-Hind also explains that zulm has another meaning which is intrinsically impossible for Allah (discussed briefly below).

Furthermore, it is not only through reason that one determines the impossibility of something. There is another class of evidence known as‘adiyyat‘Adiyyat are those things that are known through repeated experience and observation; so for example based on the knowledge of‘adiyyat, it is known that it is impossible for a bird to give birth to a monkey, although this is not impossible in itself (fi nafsihi) or intrinsically impossible. In the same way it is known based on ‘adiyyat that a mu‘jizah does not occur on the hand of a liar, and is therefore impossible based on this class of knowledge; although it is fi nafsihi possible. A mu‘jizah is a miraculous thing which appears on the hands of a man making a claim of prophethood with a challenge that the miracle cannot be replicated or annulled by others.

Difference between Imperfections and Ugly Acts

He also explains at length that naqa’is (deficiencies, imperfections) are different from qaba’ih (reprehensible acts). The first is like not knowing, not owning, not having power – these are all intrinsically impossible for Allah and not contained in His power, as they are inconceivable with respect to the notion of divinity. The second is like doing something against wisdom or for no reason (safah/’abath), giving false information (kadhib), tricking, deceiving – these are not intrinsically impossible, but extrinsically impossible; that is, Allah retains power over them as His power is inclusive of all possible things, but their issuance is impossible for Him.

Zulm and Jahl

Sometimes the same words can be placed in both the first and second category as they share two different meanings, which is a cause for confusion. For example, jahl and zulm both have two meanings. Jahl has two meanings: one is the opposite of ‘ilm i.e. ignorance, which is intrinsically impossible for Allah. And the second is the opposite of hilm (forbearance) i.e. rashness, impatience, which is intrinsically possible and extrinsically impossible (Juhd al-Muqill, 1:71-72). Similarly zulm can mean to meddle in another’s ownership which is intrinsically impossible for Allah as nothing is outside of His ownership; or it can mean to put something outside its due place which is extrinsically impossible and intrinsically possible.

Kalam Nafsi and Kalam Lafzi

In the fourth premise in his introduction, Shaykh al-Hind discusses in what aspect of the “Kalam” of Allah the discussion is concerning.

“According to the Ahl al-Sunnah, the ‘Kalam’ (speech) of the Creator is used for two meanings by way of being a linguistic or verbal homonym or by way of literal and metaphorical meanings:

“First the real attribute, single, simple, subsisting in the essence of the Creator, not separate from the essence, which is called “Kalam Nafsi” (self speech). Second, the speech revealed on the Messenger (upon him and his progeny peace and salutations), that is miraculous, used to challenge [the disbelievers], composed of letters, which is called “Kalam Lafzi” (uttered speech).” (Juhd al-Muqill, 1:26)

The Arabs used to use Kalam for both these meanings, as one of the verses of poetry said: “Speech resides in the heart, and the tongue was only made as a pointer to the heart.” Hence, such Kalam Nafsi and Lafzi is understood by the common mind as it applies to all humans.

Shaykh al-Hind explains that truth and falsehood cannot apply to the concept of Kalam Nafsi:

“And since “Kalam” in the first meaning is in itself one and simple, this is why there is no room of truth and falsehood in it, because in itself it is neither a statement to initiate something (insha) nor a statement of reporting something (khabar)…” (ibid)

After citing a number of passages from Kalam authorities, he says:

“It is realised from the statements of the luminaries that Kalam Nafsi in itself is neither a report, nor an enactment. And since it is not a report, there can be no situation for the possibility of truthfulness and falsehood. But after the establishment of specific connections that were mentioned, when the function of report arrives, at that time there is scope for the possibility of truthfulness and falsehood. And on this matter, the whole of Ahl al-Sunnah is in agreement.” (Juhd al-Muqill 1:29)

He therefore explains that when “sidq” (truthfulness) is used with respect to Kalam Nafsi it means “ghayr mutasawwar al-kadhib” (falsehood is inconceivable in it), not that it is literally a “true” statement.

Difference between Two Types of Speech

He also clarifies that the Kalam Nafsi is eternal and subsists in the essence while the Kalam Lafzi is temporal (hadith) and therefore created. After presenting numerous quotes, he says:

“In sum, the authoritative statements testify and announce that the Ash‘aris and Maturdis and the group of Ahl al-Sunnah of the predecessors and successors opine that the alfaz (utterances, words) are temporal (hadith), and they are agreed on this. Readers of Tafsir Kabir know full well that Hazrat Imam stated clearly that the Kalam Lafzi – uttered speech – is haadith, a few statements of which this lowly one quoted…” (Juhd al-Muqill 2:69)

It is only a group of the Hanbalis and Karramis that say the alfaz, aswat and huruf are eternal, and reside/subsist in the essence of Allah, which is an absurd claim. Some went as far as to say the cover and the mushaf themselves are eternal and reside in Allah’s essence!

When we say “the Qur’an is the speech of Allah, uncreated,” it refers to the self speech (Kalam Nafsi) or the meanings residing/subsisting in the essence of Allah. It does not refer to the words, letters, sounds, writing, sent down on the Prophet, which are hadith and created. Sa‘d al-Din al-Taftazani and others said, the scholars have said that one should say, “Qur’an is the speech of Allah, uncreated,” (in the sense just mentioned); but one should not say: “the Qur’an is uncreated” because people might begin to think the sounds and letters are eternal and uncreated as some Hanbalis believe which is incorrect. (Juhd al-Muqill, 2:87)

There was a contention produced by the opposition (and is produced even today by the Barelwis) that the great Ash‘ari muhaqqiq, Qadi ‘Aduddin, and his supporters, argued that the speech that subsists in Allah’s essence is the spoken word, and if this is not accepted there are a number of corrupt consequences like not believing what is between the two covers is the word of Allah. However, later Ash‘aris like ‘Allamah Qushji verified the matter and opined that the Qadi erred in this matter:

“The corrupt consequences which he (Qadi ‘Aduddin) mentioned that they will be necessitated based on what the companions understood from the speech of Shaykh [al-Ash‘ari] is what we mentioned…

“Whoever denies that which is between the two covers is the Kalam of Allah will only disbelieve if he believes that it is not the speech of Allah in the sense that it is from the inventions of human beings. But if he believes that it is not the Kalam of Allah in the sense that it is not an attribute that resides in His essence, but it points to that which is a real attribute and it is from the inventions of Allah and His innovations, in that He made it appear on the tongue of an angel or prophet or He brought into existence markings that point to it in the Lawh Mahfiz, it is not kufr at all but it is the madhhab of most Ash‘aris, so one should not presume that it is kufr.” (Quoted in Arabic on pages 110-1 of vol 2 Juhd al-Muqill)

However, others like Dawwani and Mawlana Bahrul ‘Uloom attempted to reconcile between the majority Ash‘ari position and what Qadi ‘Aduddin said, which one may read in Juhd al-Muqill.

Answering an Objection

From p 154 of the second volume onwards, he discusses a common argument mentioned by the opposition: that the Kalam Lafzi is not the mere created words of Allah but those that point to the Kalam Nafsi in which lying is intrinsically impossible; therefore due to pointing to it, lying in the Kalam Lafzi is also intrinsically impossible

Shaykh al-Hind discusses this matter at length. In this argument presented by the opposition, “Kalam Nafsi” here could mean one of two things: the eternal self speech; but here kadhib and sidq is not even mutasawwar (conceivable) so there is no question of indication and accordance in this respect. Hence this is not a proof of lying being impossible in the Kalam Lafzi (Juhd al-Muqill, 2:156) Or if by “Kalam Nafsi” is meant what the Lafz points to (madlulat) there is no proof that lying is impossible therein.

He also discusses another angle to this question: It is not necessary, conceptually, for Kalam Lafzi to agree with, point to, or accord with the Kalam Nafsi. (Juhd al-Muqill, 2:160) This is because it is possible for someone to produce a verbalised speech that is not in accordance with self-speech; that is, the case when someone expresses another person’s thoughts, even if it is opposed to one’s own “internal speech”/thoughts.

Shaykh al-Hind quotes from Sharh al-‘Aqa’idSharh Fiqh Akbar etc.

التحقيق أن كلام الله تعالى مشترك بين الكلام النفسي القديم ومعنى الإضافة كونه صفة له تعالى وبين اللفظي الحادث المؤلف من السور والآيات ومعنى الإضافة أنه مخلوق لله تعالى ليس من تأليف المخلوقين

“The conclusion is that the ‘Kalam of Allah’ is [a phrase] common for [two meanings]: Kalam Nafsi which is eternal and the meaning of the genitive is its being His attribute [i.e. ‘Kalam of Allah’ here means ‘a speech that is the attribute of Allah’]; and Kalam Lafzi that is temporal and composed of chapters and verses, and the meaning of the genitive is that it is the creation of Allah, and not from the composition of creatures [i.e. ‘Kalam of Allah’ here means ‘a speech that is the direct creation of Allah’].”

And in Sharh Maqasid it says:

كلامه تعالى يطلق بالاشتراك والمجاز المشهور على النظم المخصوص لا لمجرد أنه دال على كلامه القديم بل لأنه إنشاءه برقوم فى اللوح المحفوظ وبحروفه فى الملك

(Quoted in Juhd al-Muqill, 2:161)

This shows that for a speech to be considered Kalam Lafzi, it is premised on it being created directly by Allah without the intervention of another creature. A proof of this is if someone expressed another’s thoughts, it would be the kalam lafzi of the one speaking, not the one who had the thought. Hence the main component of kalam lafzi is that it is composed and initiated by someone.

In sum, it is not an intrinsic element of Kalam Lafzi that it indicates the meanings/ideas found in the Kalam Nafsi. (Juhd al-Muqill, 2:162) Instead, this is a secondary or incidental property of the Kalam Lafzi in question i.e. the Qur’an. Hence, lying therein is secondarily or extrinsically impossible not intrinsically. Moreover, Shaykh al-Hind explains that when the Qur’an is described as a Kalam Lafzi that points to the Kalam Nafsi, the qualification of “pointing to” is an additional or conditional qualification that excludes any Kalam that does not point to it; it is not a qualification that is inherent in the concept of Kalam Lafzi.

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This is of course a very rushed presentation of an extremely delicate and detailed matter, but it is hoped that from the above the main themes of the book Juhd al-Muqill can be gauged; that it is understood that the position of Shah Isma‘il of the inclusion in Allah’s power of issuing a statement contrary to reality (though it will not occur), that has been defended by the Deobandi scholars, is a position well-grounded in the Kalam works, and completely explicable in light of rational evidence; and finally one can appreciate the depth of the knowledge and analysis of the great scholar and mujahid, Shaykh al-Hind, who has in this remarkable work (written over a hundred years ago) addressed all the issues that are raised as objections even today to the view in question (which has already been established and well-documented in the Kalam works).


Another Example of the Distortions of Abu Hasan

April 29, 2013

Barelwi, Abu Hasan, has recently been publishing a number of e-books to propagate the heresies and distortions of Barelwism. A number of his lies and manipulations have already been documented on this website. Some years ago an extraordinary example of his deceptive translation of a passage from Ibn al-Humam’s Musayarah was exposed. Unfortunately, that mistranslation and its expose have now been lost as Abu Hasan has taken the time to cover up his tracks. However, one sentence from this deceptive translations remains, and will be presented below as another example of Abu Hasan’s outlandish lies and distortions. The purpose of this and other exposes is to alert readers to the dangers of taking Abu Hasan as a reliable source.

Abu Hasan quoted the Arabic of the text of Musamarah/Musayarah and then translated it as follows:

و أما ثبوتها أي القدرة على ما ذكر ثم الامتناع عن متعلقها اختياراً فبمذهب أي فهو بمذهب الأشاعرة أليق منه بمذهب المعتزلة ، و لا يخفى أن هذا الأليق أدخل في التنزيه أيضا
 

that is, proof of Power on that which has been mentioned but impossibility to act upon it by His Choice. But the madh’hab that is the madh’hab of Ash`aris is more suitable than that of the mu’tazilah. And it is obvious that this better position is also included in Transcendence of Allah

Anybody with a basic comprehension of Arabic can see that the “translation” does not correspond to the original Arabic. The original Arabic leading up to this sentence is as follows:

 
ثم قال أي صاحب العمدة : و لا يوصف الله تعالى بالقدرة على الظلم و السفه و الكذب لأن المحال لا يدخل تحت القدرة أي لا يصلح متعلقا لها و عند المعتزلة يقدر تعالى على كل ذلك و لا يفعل انتهى كلام صاحب العمدة ، و كأنه انقلب عليه ما نقله عن المعتزلة ، إذ لا شك أن سلب القدرة عما ذكر هو مذهب المعتزلة ، و أما ثبوتها أي القدرة على ما ذكر ثم الامتناع عن متعلقها اختياراً فبمذهب أي فهو بمذهب الأشاعرة أليق منه بمذهب المعتزلة ، و لا يخفى أن هذا الأليق أدخل في التنزيه أيضا
 
The translation of which, in context, is as follows:
 

“Then he i.e. the author of Al-’Umdah said, ‘Allah (Exalted is He) is not described with Power over oppression, impudence and falsehood because the impossible is not included in [His] Power, i.e. it is improper for it to pertain to them. According to the Mu’tazilah, He (Exalted is He) is Able over all that but does not do [them].’ End quote from Al-’Umda.

“It appears as though he altered that which he transmitted from the Mu’tazilah, since there is no doubt that the absence of power over what was mentioned is the madhhab of the Mu’tazilah. As for its presence, i.e. power over what was mentioned, and then abstention from pertaining to them by choice, to the madhhab, i.e. it is to the madhhab of the Ash’aris, more fitting than it is to the madhhab of the Mu’tazilah. It is obvious that this more fitting [position] is also included in transcendence

 
The underlined part is the section “translated” by Abu Hasan above. It is very clear that Abu Hasan tries to convey the complete opposite meaning of what was intended by the original passage, which states that the inclusion of the aforementioned things in the Divine Power (and then abstention from them by choice) is the view most suitable to the Ash’aris.
 
Readers of his “works” should bear this and his other distortions in mind.