Shāh Waliyyullāh Dehlawī: Asking Needs (Istighāthah) from the Dead is Impermissible and Kufr

February 19, 2019

Shāh Waliyullāh Dehlawī (1703 – 1762) states:

Realise that asking needs from the dead, [even] while recognising that this is a means to having it fulfilled, is kufr. It must be avoided. This kalimah (i.e. the shahādah) forbids it, and yet people today are engrossed in it.” (al-Khayr al-Kathīr, al-Majlis al-‘Ilmī, p. 105)

Note that while he considers it kufr, this does not necessarily mean he will make takfīr of individuals/people engaged in it, as kufr can be averted based on ignorance or ta’wīl. The reason this is kufr is it apparently ascribes powers of an immaterial nature to other than Allāh, while such powers are exclusive to Him.*

Shāh Waliyyullāh further says:

All who go to the city of Ajmer or the grave of Sālār Mas‘ūd or anything similar to them for the purpose of a need he requests [from them], he has committed a sin graver than murder and adultery. He has no likeness but the likeness of one who worships creatures or the likeness of those who would call Lāt and ‘Uzzā, although we do not make explicit takfīr [of an individual] due to the absence of a text from the lawgiver on this specific matter [and thus ta’wīl being possible]. Everyone who specifies life in the deceased and requests needs from him his heart is sinful.” (Al-Tafhīmāt al-Ilāhiyyah, al-Majlis al-‘Ilmī, 2:45)

He also says:

“Further, the definition of shirk with Allāh in worship is to glorify other than Allāh seeking thereby to get near to Allāh (Exalted is He) and salvation in the next life. Amongst the greatest illnesses of this time of ours is their worship of their shuyūkh, whether living, or of their graves when dead. The ignorant copy the disbelievers of India in worshipping their idols in their practices.  The definition of shirk with Allāh in seeking help is to seek one’s need from another while believing he has the power to accomplish it by applying a powerful will, like curing the sick, giving life and death, giving provision and creating a child, and other things that are included within the Names of Allāh (Exalted is He). The definition of shirk with Allāh in calling out is to mention other than Allāh (Glorified is He) while believing this action of his will benefit him in his afterlife or in coming closer to Allāh, just as they mention their shuyūkh when waking up in the morning.” (Al-Tafhīmāt al-Ilāhiyyah, al-Majlis al-‘Ilmī, 2:63-4)

Shāh Waliyyullāh explains in a statement of ‘aqīdah:

“[Allāh] has no partner in the necessity of existence nor in deserving worship nor in creation and administration. None deserves worship, i.e. the furthest extent of glorification, besides Him. None heals the sick, provides provision and alleviates harm besides Him, in the sense of saying to a thing Kun and it happens, not in the sense of outward ordinary causation as is said: ‘The doctor healed the sick person’, ‘the commander provided the army’…” (al-Tafhīmāt al-Ilāhiyyah, al-Majlis al-‘Ilmī, 1:144-5)

Shāh Waliyyullāh makes the same point in his well-known work Ḥujjatullāh al-Bālighah (Dārul Jīl, 1:117):

It is fine to take material assistance within the material world Allāh has created, or from what we learn via revelation is available for assistance. Outside of this, any event/help is from kharq al-‘ādāt (breaking of the norm) which is exclusively the activity of Allāh (even if apparently done on the hand of a creature), so none besides Him is to be asked for them. See Rāh e Hidāyat of Mawlānā Sarfrāz Khān Ṣafdar for more detail.

Shāh Waliyyullāh also says in Ḥujjatullāh al-Bālighah:

“This concept [i.e. shirk] has various embodiments and forms, and the divine law only discusses embodiments and forms of it which the people practice with the intention of shirk, so that they become anticipated sources (maẓinnah) of shirk and customarily inseparable from it. This is similar to the practice of the divine law in establishing the causes that entail good or evil actions as being tantamount to those acts themselves. We want to alert you to those things which Allāh, may He be Exalted, has made anticipated sources (maẓinnāt) of shirk in the divine law brought by Muḥammad, may there be peace and blessings upon the one who brought it, so that he forbade them…Among them is that they used to request assistance (yasta’īnuna) with their needs (fi ḥawā’ijihim) such as in curing the sick and meeting the needs of the poor, from other than Allāh. They would make vows to them expecting the accomplishment of their purposes through these vows, and they would recite their names, hoping for their blessing. Therefore, Allāh, may He be Exalted, made incumbent upon them that they say during their prayers: ‘You alone do we worship, You alone do we seek for help’ (Qur’ān, 1:4).” (Ḥujjatullāh al-Bālighah, Dārul Jīl, 1:120)

Recall also that one of Shāh Waliyyullāh’s prominent students Qāḍī Thanā’ullāh Pānipatī also condemned istighāthah, as documented here.

Barelwīs who assert that such teachings and such opposition to istighāthah originated in India with Shāh Ismā‘īl Shahīd are, as usual, lying.

* Mawlānā Idrīs Kāndhlewī explains this as follows: “The fourth scenario is when in asking for help from other [than Allah], it is suggestive of the independence of this [entity] other [than Allah], like asking help from spirits. Even though this person does not believe them to be independent, nonetheless, since the idolaters ask help from the spirits believing them to be independent, this is why asking help from spirits is absolutely haram. There is no doubt over it being haram. The doubt is whether this person will come out of the fold of Islam or not? Since this action is a complete manifestation of shirk, this is why there is strong fear of him coming out of the sphere of Islam.” (source)


Mawlānā Sarfrāz Khān Ṣafdar: Barelwī ‘Ulamā’ are Kāfirs but not their Laymen

January 25, 2019

Mawlānā Muḥammad Rashīd, teacher of Ḥadīth at Dārul ‘Ulūm Madīnah, and student of Mawlānā Sarfrāz Khān Ṣafdar (1914 – 2009)*, said:

I once asked Ḥaḍrat Imām e Ahl e Sunnat [Mawlānā Sarfrāz Khān Ṣafdar]: ‘What is the ruling on Barelwīs? What belief should we hold concerning them?’ He replied: ‘The Molvī and Pīr kinds of people amongst them, on account of blasphemous beliefs, are pure Kāfirs and Mushriks. Ṣalāh behind them is undoubtedly invalid. However, we do not make takfīr of the common people because they are completely ignorant. They should be made to understand, but if despite being made to understand, they knowingly stay firm on blasphemous idolatrous beliefs, then takfīr will also be made of them – but otherwise, not.’

In his tafsīr, Dhakhīrat al-Jinān, Mawlānā Sarfrāz Khān Ṣafdar said:

The noble Fuqahā’ have said that the one who says the souls of mashāyikh are present and knowing is a Kāfir – even if they pray ṣalāh, keep fasts, perform ḥajj, offer qurbānī and fiṭrānah, they are pure Kāfirs. This is the belief of Barelwī Molvīs and Pīrs. Their close attendants, the extreme type of people, also have this belief. The remaining helpless commoners are ignorant. Their Molvīs, Pīrs and the extreme Barelwīs amongst the commoners regard Prophets as ḥāḍir nāẓir, and regard saints and martyrs as ḥāḍir nāẓir also – all of this is Kufr. The class of noble Fuqahā’ is a very precautious class. They are the ones who said that if a person makes a statement that has 100 possible meanings, 99 are blasphemous and one is not, don’t call him a Kāfir because his intent may be the non-blasphemous meaning. A one percent possibility even has not been overlooked. What greater precaution can there be than this? Despite this precaution, this very class of noble Fuqahā’ are unanimous that those who regard the souls of saints as being ḥāḍir nāẓir and ‘ālim al-ghayb are pure Kāfirs. These are not peripheral issues that can simply be ignored.

* For more on Mawlānā Sarfrāz Khān Ṣafdar see here and here.


The Clear Blasphemy & Kufr of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī – Ḥakīm al-Ummat Mawlānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī and ‘Allāmah Khālid Maḥmūd

January 14, 2019

Ḥakīm al-Ummat Mawlānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī raḥimahullāh addresses the “explicit kufr in which there can be no ta’wīl” of some heretics who claimed that Shaykh ‘Abdul Qādir al-Jīlānī is equal to, or has surpassed, Allāh Ta‘ālā in the quality of the creation being in need of him! Na‘ūdhu billāh. (Imdād al-Fatāwā, Maktabah Dārul ‘Ulūm Karāchī, 6:75)

Ḥakīm al-Ummat Thānawī raḥimahullāh explains that, “The being and characteristics of Allāh, the Absolutely Powerful (Qādir Muṭlaq), are themselves outside the Divine Power. Otherwise, it would necessitate believing that He is able to bring into existence His own likeness, which is absurd.” (ibid. 76)

He then explains this as divine punishment for the Mubtadi‘īn (innovators) who lay false allegations against the noble ‘ulamā’ of dīn:

The Mubtadi‘īn who have waged war against those who wrote that [creating] a likeness of the Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) is under the Power of the Creator (Exalted is He) but extrinsically impossible, and have popularised the [correct] belief of expressing the Power of the Absolutely Powerful under the [ambiguous] slogan of “imkān al-kidhb” and thereby have created ill-feeling amongst the ignorant for the ‘ulamā’ of dīn, those [very same Mubtadi‘īn] have fabricated the [false] belief about Ḥaḍrat Shaykh [‘Abdul Qādir al-Jīlānī] that, Allāh forbid, Allāh has made him His equal, and in fact made him superior to Himself, which is certainly explicit kufr. This punishment has befallen these people on account of the bad language they have used in relation to the respected ‘ulamā’ of dīn and as a result have acquired the mark of blackened faces in both worlds. (ibid. 6:76)

The “blackened faces” in this world refers to humiliation and being exposed. (Muṭāla‘ah Barelwiyyat, by Dr. ‘Allāmah Khālid Maḥmūd, Hafzi Book Depot, 5:69)

Ḥakīm al-Ummat Thānawī raḥimahullāh explains further that the one who entertains such a belief is “certainly a Mushrik and Kāfir”. He then quotes two poems which are “in the same vein” (Imdād al-Fatāwā, 6:76). The first poem states that, na‘ūdhu billāh, Allāh, the Sovereign, has made the one He has given His attention to equal to Him and thus he is “not less than Allāh”! He writes that this poetry is “explicit shirk”, and “the one who composed this verse is worthy of being considered a Mushrik and outside of Islām.” (ibid.)

Then he refers to a second verse of poetry that says:

I will call you Mālik (the Owner) for you are the Mālik’s beloved, for there is no otherness/separation between the beloved and the lover.

Ḥakīm al-Ummat Thānawī raḥimahullāh states that “Mālik” here has been used in the meaning of “God” (Khudā), and thus the clear meaning of the verse is that the person being addressed “is Allāh’s beloved and there is no difference between the beloved and the lover, and thus he is also, Allāh forbid, divine!” Thus, the writer of the verse “is deserving of the same ruling which has been given for the first verse. The ruling cannot change based on any ta’wīl because the words are completely clear.” (ibid. 6:76-7)

‘Allāmah Khālid Maḥmūd ḥafiẓahullāh comments:

The fatwā that Ḥakīm al-Ummat (Allāh have mercy on him) gave on the first verse is that the one who said this verse is a Mushrik and outside of Islām.

Now, he has given this same fatwā on the one who said this second verse. To whom does this second verse of poetry belong? It belongs to Mawlānā Aḥmad Riḍā Khān. (Muṭāla‘ah Barelwiyyat, 5:70)

The line can be found in Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s Ḥadā’iq Bakhshish. (Scans below).

Those who lie and slander the great imāms of dīn should take heed. Allāh has declared war against those who show enmity to his Awliyā’. It would not be farfetched that the one Allāh has declared war against, the greatest gift Allāh has given him – his īmān – will be snatched away from him in one way or another. Shaykh al-Islām Mawlānā Ḥusayn Aḥmad Madanī raḥimahullāh explains:

Based on a prophetic statement, the takfīr will fall back on Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Ṣāḥib Barelwī. It is found in a clear text and an authentic ḥadīth that one who does takfīr or curses anyone, it will certainly fall back on one of the two: if that individual is deserving [of takfīr or the curse], then on him, and if not, it will turn back on the speaker. Thus, since the respected Elders of Deoband and Sahāranpūr are innocent of this [takfīr], this is why all of these takfīrs and curses, turning back on Barelwī and his followers, will become a cause of punishment for them in their graves, and a cause of īmān coming out and certainty and conviction departing them at the time of death. Upon Judgement, these [takfīrs that turn back on them] will be a cause of the Angels saying to Ḥuḍūr regarding all his followers: “You do not know what they did after you!” and, saying, “[Go] far away, far away!”, Rasūl Maqbūl (upon him peace) will push them away from the Fount from which drink is taken and from the Praiseworthy Intercession, [treating] them worse than dogs; and they will be denied the reward, positions and bliss of this blessed Ummah. (al-Shihāb al-Thāqib, p. 290)


Darul Ulum Haqqaniyyah: Belief in Ilm Jami Ma Kana wa Ma Yakun for Creation is Kufr

January 11, 2019

According to the official fatwā collection of Dārul ‘Ulūm Ḥaqqāniyyah* (known as the “Second Deoband”):

Whoever has the belief regarding the Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) that he knew everything that occurred and that will occur [in creation], he has opposed categorical texts. Thus, one who holds this belief is a Kāfir. He must renew his īmān and if married renew his nikāḥ. (Fatāwā Ḥaqqāniyyah, 1:160)

Attributing such complete, detailed and exhaustive knowledge of the created universe to the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) is amongst the most cherished beliefs of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī and his followers.

* Founded by Mawlānā ‘Abdul Ḥaqq (1912 – 1988), graduate of Dārul ‘Ulūm Deoband, and student of Shaykh al-Islām Mawlānā Ḥusayn Aḥmad Madanī, Mawlānā I‘zaz ‘Alī Amrohī, Mawlānā Murtaḍā Ḥasan Chāndpūrī, Mawlānā Ibrāhīm Balyāwī and others.


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.


Ahmad Rida Khan’s Father Rejects the Belief in Hazir/Nazir, Hearing from a Distance, for Saints

November 29, 2018

Naqi Ali Khan (1830-1880), Ahmad Rida Khan’s (1856 – 1921) father and primary teacher, says:

For example, an ignoramus holds the belief in connection to an accomplished individual from the saints of this Ummah that he knows the conditions of the entire world altogether at all times and moments and whoever calls him at any time from any place he hears immediately, then although the belief is apparently not established, but if together with this he does not regard him to be independent in the knowledge and power, and regards them all to be from the notification and power of God, and nor does he regard him to be of necessary existence and deserving of worship, he will not become Mushrik based on this belief. Yes, the masses should be prevented from this belief and its falsity should be demonstrated… (Usul al-Rashad, Idarah e Ahl e Sunnat, p. 45-6)

Thus, he clearly rejects the belief that saints are “hazir nazir” or are able to hear from a distance.

In regards to Naqi Ali Khan’s point, however, the masses cannot be trusted to always hold such pure beliefs as expressed by him. Many of them hold Mu’tazili-like beliefs about “secondary causes”, that is, Allah created things with inherent powers, and after receiving those powers they operate independently rather than being dependent on Him in each and every instance. Several centuries ago, Imam al-Sanusi (1428 – 1490) stated that this is generally the belief held by the masses (Sharh al-Kubra, p. 37).

Thus, the Hanafi imams have ruled that such beliefs about saints, which would clearly be based on “independence” (even if it is believed that the powers were initially received from Allah), to be kufr, as it would be to ascribe independent knowledge of the unseen to someone. Allamah Abdul Hayy al-Lakhnawi wrote:

Such recitation consists of calling on the dead from a distance and it is not established in the Shari‘ah that saints have the power to listen to a call from a distance. However, it is established that the dead hear the salutation of the visitors to their graves. But to believe that anyone beside Allah (Glorified is He) is present and seeing and aware of the hidden and evident at all times is shirk. In Fatawa Bazaziyyah it is written that if one marries without witnesses and says that I make Allah, His Messenger and the angels witnesses, ‘he has disbelieved because he believed that the Messenger and the angel know the unseen, and our ‘ulama’ have said that whoever says that the souls of the saints are present and knowing has disbelieved.’ Although Hazrat Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir is one of the great saints of the Muhammadan nation and his merits and virtues are innumerable, but it is not established that he hears the distressed caller from a distance. And the beliefs that he is aware of his disciple’s affairs all the time, and hears their calls, are beliefs of shirk. And Allah knows best.” (Majmu’ah al-Fatawa, 4:331; quoted in Maqalat Usmani, 2:307)

Naqi Ali Khan refers to Shah Ishaq Dehlawi as “the second imam of the opposition (“Wahhabis”)” (i.e. after Shah Isma’il Dehlawi) (Usul al-Rashad, p 57 and other places), based on Shah Ishaq Dehlawi’s works Masa’il Arbain and Mi’ah Masa’il. Shah Ishaq Dehlawi (1782 – 1846) was like a son to his grandfather Shah Abdul Aziz Dehlawi, and Shah Abdul Aziz Dehlawi appointed him as his successor, and gifted him all his books. Thus, Shah Ishaq Dehlawi sat in Shah Abdul Aziz’s position after his death in 1824. In 1842, he traveled with a large group of his family and settled in Makkah, and was regarded very highly by the Ulama of Makkah. He had many students, including Shaykh Abdul Ghani Dehlawi (whose asanid are collected in al-Yani al-Jani), Shaykh Qutbuddin al-Dehlawi (author of Mazahir al-Haqq), Shaykh Ahmad Ali Saharanpuri (editor and publisher of the first print of Sahih al-Bukhari), Mufti Inayat Ahmad Kakorvi (author of Ilm al-Sighah), Shaykh Fadl al-Rahman Ganjmuradabadi (the famous spiritual master) and others. Sayyid Abdul Hayy Hasani says: “No sanad of hadith remains in India besides this sanad [via Shah Ishaq Dehlawi].” (Nuzhat al-Khawatir, p. 911)* This is a clear demonstration that Barelwi claims to be a continuation of the earlier scholarly tradition is false. Barelwi “scholarship” is an effort to justify popular beliefs and practices, not to be a continuation of the earlier scholarly tradition.

Naqi Ali Khan’s work, Usul al-Rashad, is problematic from many angles. He, for instance, claims that the view of bid’ah being divided into good and bad in only its linguistic usage rather than its Shar’i usage is a fallacy. (Usul al-Rashad, p. 61-2) But this reality was expressed by several imams of the past like Ibn Kathir, Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali and Birgivi. (see p 18-20 here: https://bawariqalghaybtranslation.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/bidah-a-study.pdf) His discussion on bid’ah is very selective and skewed, and overlooks some very important issues.

* This is apparently in reference to a sanad of hadith that is based on a complete recitation of the famous books of hadith; such a sanad can only be traced via Shah Ishaq al-Dehlawi in India. Otherwise, there are other sanads to Shah Abdul Aziz Dehlawi, but these are not based on a complete recitation of the books of hadith.


Istighāthah: The Importance of Definition

November 26, 2018

Istighāthah (taking help) can refer to asking a deceased person to fulfil one’s need. This is the meaning of istighāthah which the Barelwīs favour and the Deobandīs strongly oppose.

However, istighāthah has in the past been used more loosely to refer to other meanings, for example:

  1. Tawassul through deceased personalities. E.g. saying: “O Allah, I ask you through the intermediary of” or “by the blessing of so-and-so” “to fulfil this work of mine.”
  2. Deriving blessing (tabarruk) from the mention of someone. E.g. calling out Yā Muammad as an act of love and showing a connection with the blessed name, without the belief that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) will hear it directly or that it will necessarily reach him.
  3. Deriving spiritual blessing from the grave of a saint. That is, sitting at the side of the grave and meditating, but not asking for anything from the inhabitant of the grave.
  4. At the grave side, asking the inhabitant of the grave to pray to Allah for the fulfillment of one’s needs.

These are meanings that Deobandīs do not dispute. Deobandīs unanimously accept the first three meanings. The fourth meaning they describe as a matter of legitimate dispute. Mawlānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī said about the fourth meaning: “To go close to a grave and say, ‘Oh such and such person, pray for me that the Most High fulfils my work.’ There is a difference among the ‘ulamā’ regarding this. Those who consider it permissible to believe that the dead can hear consider this permissible and those who do not believe that the dead can hear forbid this … However, there is no difference in the hearing of the Prophets (peace be upon them), on account of this they are exempt.” (al-Fatāwā al-Rashīdiyyah, p. 139) About the third meaning, the author of al-Muhannad states: “As for deriving benefit from the spirituality of the great saints and receiving internal effusions from their breasts or their graves, this is correct in the manner recognised by its experts and specialists, but not in the manner widespread amongst the common people.” (al-Muhannad, Dār al-Fatḥ, p. 60)

‘Allāmah Ṣun‘ullāh al-Ḥalabī al-Ḥanafī (d. 1708), a pre-Wahhābī pre-Deobandī Ottoman Ḥanafī jurist based in Ḥalab and Makkah, refuted the practice of calling out to dead saints for help while believing they have taarrufāt (powers of discretion) to help. He wrote a relatively lengthy treatise on the topic called Sayfullāh ‘alā man Kadhaba ‘alā Awliyā’illah, containing many useful discussions, including a crucial distinction between karāmāt (exceptional miracles) and taṣarrufāt (continuous powers). ‘Allāmah Ṣun‘ullāh was a Sunnī who made ta’wīl of the Ṣifāt Khabariyyah like yad (hand) (hence could not have been a “Taymī” or a “Wahhābī”), and supported Tawassul. In explaining what some of the scholars before him meant by the permissibility of “istighāthah”, he said: “What has been said about istighāthah being permitted via the prophets and saints, the intent is only deriving blessing (tabarruk) from mentioning them, and making tawassul through them, not asking for help [directly] from them.” (Sayfullāh ‘alā man Kadhaba ‘alā Awliyā’illah, Dār al-Kitāb wa l-Sunnah, p. 49-50)

Shaykh ‘Abdul Ḥaqq Muḥaddith Dehlawī (1551 – 1642), the celebrated imām of ḥadīth from the subcontinent, has a brief discussion on “istighāthah” in his Arabic commentary on Mishkāt, al-Lama‘āt (Lama‘āt al-Tanqīḥ, Dār al-Nawādir, 7:38-40). What is interesting about this discussion is that although Shaykh ‘Abdul Ḥaqq Muḥaddith Dehlawī uses the terms “istimdād” and “istighāthah” and defends their practice against opponents, it is clear that he is using them in the alternative meanings described above (in particular, meanings 1, 3 and 4). Relevant parts of this discussion are translated below:

As for istimdād from the inhabitants of graves, some jurists have denounced it. If the denunciation is because they have no hearing, knowledge or feeling of the one visiting and his conditions, then this has been proven to be false, and if it is because they have no power or control in that location to help them but are held back from them and occupied in the trials that occur to their souls which distract them from all else, then this is not regarded as always [being the case], especially for the pious who are the friends of Allāh, and thus it is possible for their souls to acquire closeness to the Lord Most Exalted in the Barzakh, and position and power to intercede and make du‘ā and ask for needs to those visiting and making Tawassul through them.

I don’t understand the istimdād and imdād that the denouncer is negating. What we understand is that a needy supplicant, in need of Allāh, makes du‘ā to Allāh and asks his need from His Most Exalted grace, and takes the spirituality of this slave brought close and ennobled by Him Most Exalted as an intermediary, saying: “O Allāh, by the blessing of this slave that You have shown mercy to and have ennobled, and the gentleness and honour You have over him, fulfil my need and grant my request, verily You are the Generous Giver.” Or he calls out to this slave brought close and ennobled by Him Most Exalted, saying: “O slave of Allāh, O friend of His, intercede for me and make du‘ā to your Lord and ask Him to give me my request and fulfil my need.” The giver and the one asked and the one hoped in is the Lord Most High and Most Exalted, and the slave in between is nothing but an intermediary. The one with power, agency and control is none but Him, and the friends of  Allāh are annihilated in His Most Exalted agency, power and control.

That which is transmitted from the saints who experience kashf upon istimdād (i.e. deriving spiritual benefit) from the souls of the accomplished and taking benefit from them, it is more than can be counted, described in their works, well-known amongst them, so there is no need to cite them. (Lama‘āt al-Tanqīḥ, Dār al-Nawādir, 7:38-40)

As can be seen, Shaykh ‘Abdul Ḥaqq is describing only the first, third and fourth meanings of “istighāthah” (a term he also uses in this passage alongside “istimdād”) described above. He is not talking about calling out directly to the deceased, asking for them to fulfil one’s needs. While describing how the ignorant engage in “istighāthah”, however, he states in the same discussion:

Yes, if visitors believe that the inhabitants of graves are independent, powerful actors, without turning to the Divine Presence and taking recourse to it, as believed by the heedless ignorant ones…that is prohibited and forbidden. The practice of the common people has no consideration at all. (Lama‘āt al-Tanqīḥ, Dār al-Nawādir, 7:39)

Shāh ‘Abdul ‘Azīz Dehlawī (1746 – 1824) also denounced the belief of the ignorant when engaging in istighāthah. He said in a Farsi answer:

People from this Ummah have gone into excess in the matter of istighāthah from pure souls. That which the ignorant and common people do, and what they believe about them of full independence in every action, this is manifest shirk without doubt. (Fatāwā ‘Azīzī, Maṭba‘ Mujtabā’ī, p. 121)

The Ḥanafī mufti of Baghdad who came a generation before the founders of Deoband, ‘Allāmah Maḥmūd al-Ālūsī (1802 – 1854), author of the celebrated Rūḥ al-Ma‘ānī, also condemned the istighāthah of the common people*:

People have increased in calling on other than Allah (Exalted is He), from the saints, the living of them and the dead, and other than them, like: ‘O my master so-and-so, give me relief.’ This is not from the permissible [form of] Tawassul at all. It is befitting the condition of a believer to avoid saying this and avoid roaming around its boundary. Some ‘ulamā’ have considered it shirk, and if it is not so, then it is close to it.

I have not seen anyone who utters this but he believes that the one called, whether an absent living person or a dead person, knows the unseen or hears the call and is able, intrinsically or extrinsically, to bring benefit and repel harm; otherwise he would not call him or open his mouth!

In this is a great trial from your Lord! It is obligatory to stay away from this and not seek [help] except from Allāh (Exalted is He), the Strong, the Independent, the Doer of what He wills.

Let it not delude you that the one seeking help from creation often has his need fulfilled and his objective accomplished, for that is a trial and a tribulation from Him (Great and Glorious is He). Often the devil takes the form to the one asking help of the one he asked help from, so he believes it to be a miracle of the one he asked help from. Far, very far! Indeed, it is only the devil misguiding him and turning him astray. (ḥ al-Ma‘ānī, Mu’assasat al-Risālah, 7:181)

* Note: Some have claimed that his work, Rūḥ al-Ma‘ānī, has been tampered with. In fact, there is no tampering in Rūḥ al-Ma‘ānī. The team of researchers who worked on the recent Mu’assasat al-Risālah print of Rūḥ al-Ma‘ānī relied on a number of manuscripts, the primary manuscript being one copied (by several scribes) directly from the author’s own copy, which was then checked by the author (Sayyid Maḥmūd Ᾱlūsī) himself. The researchers comment: “The manuscripts that we relied on, particularly this primary manuscript, is no different from the widely available prints of the Tafsīr. They are exactly the same. Hence what was said…that the son of Ᾱlūsī was not trustworthy in printing the tafsir of his father does not conform with reality.” (Rūḥ al-Ma‘ānī, Mu’assasat al-Risālah, 2010, 1:72)