A Tale of Deception – Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī and Takfīr of the Akābir of Deoband

March 18, 2020

Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī (1856 – 1921 CE) used lies and deception to mislead and guilt people into accepting his slanderous takfīr of four of the great ‘ulamā’ of Deoband, namely:

  1. Maulānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī (1829 – 1905 CE)
  2. Maulānā Qāsim Nānotwī (1833 – 1880 CE)
  3. Maulānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī (1852 – 1927 CE)
  4. Maulānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī (1863 – 1943 CE)

He even went as far as to say anyone who doubts his takfīr of them becomes a kāfir!

The following series of articles exposes in clear and vivid detail how Aḥmad Riḍā Khān is guilty of deception and fraud in each one of these allegations:

How Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī Used a Fabricated Fatwā to Make Takfīr on Maulānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī

How Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī Manufactured a Quote from Taḥdḥir un Nās to Make Takfīr on Maulānā Qāsim Nānotwī

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

How Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Distorted Ḥifẓ al-Īmān to Make Takfīr on Maulānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī

Please read and share with interested parties.


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

March 17, 2020

Read this and this first.

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

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

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

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

The Allegation in Tamhīd e Īmān

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Quote from Nasīm al-Riyāḍ

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

Maulānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī is not Guilty of Diminishment

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

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

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

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

The Passage in Question

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

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

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

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

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

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

Diminishing or Elevating Prophetic Status?

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

The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) himself said:

أَنْتُم أعلم بأمر دنياكم

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final Points

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

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


Barelwī Browbeating & Propaganda Against Deobandīs – UK Barelwīs Write to Muḥammad Ya‘qūbī

March 7, 2020

Recently, UK Barelwīs wrote a letter to Muḥammad Ya‘qūbī castigating him for calling to unity with different groups. The letter can be found here. While there are legitimate grounds to question “uniting” with groups like the Shī‘ah, the Barelwī letter-writers repeat age-old false propaganda against Deobandīs (p3-6), and ask Ya‘qūbī to support the takfīr of the Deobandī elders (p12) – and this is what concerns us here. They repeat the false propaganda of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān despite these having been exposed as clear lies and falsehoods for all audiences, whether Urdu-speaking, English-speaking or Arabic-speaking. The shameful and shameless slanders repeated in this letter were signed by some of their reputed UK-based “scholars” and preachers like Aslam Bandyalwi, Shams ul Huda Misbahi, Saqib Iqbal, Shahid Ali, Ibrar Shafi and Nabil Afzal.

For English-speakers, The Decisive Debate by Maulānā Manẓūr Nu‘mānī (accessible here) and A Critique of Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn by Maulānā Sarfrāz Khān Ṣafdar (available here) are sufficient and detailed refutations of the false allegations of kufr found in Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn, and repeated in the letter. For Arabic speakers, apart from al-Muhannad ‘ala ‘l-Mufannad (available here), the following are sufficient and detailed refutations:

اتهام البريلوي على الشيخ قاسم النانوتوي والجواب عنه
اتهامات البريلوي على العلامة خليل أحمد السهارنفوري والجواب عنها
مولانا أشرف علي التهانوي وبحثه عن علم الغيب في رسالة حفظ الإيمان

False Equivalence Between Takfīr of Qādiyānīs and Takfīr of Deobandīs

The letter begins its discussion on Deobandīs by creating a false equivalence:

If you make Takfir of Qadiyanis due to their denial of some necessary matters of religion — regardless of their belief of Allah being One, the Messenger of Allah صلى الله تعالى عليه وسلم as a Messenger, the Qur’an as a Heavenly Book, Salah, Zakat, Sawm and Hajj — then why do you hesitate in making Takfir of the four leading scholars of Deobandis?

The beliefs for which Qādiyānīs are considered disbelievers (kāfirs/zindīqs) are not contested by the Qādiyānīs themselves. Yet the beliefs that Barelwīs falsely allege the Deobandī elders are guilty of, and because of which they accuse them of kufr, are contested by Deobandīs and were contested by those accused themselves. Hence, there is a clear contrast between the rightful takfīr of Qādiyānīs and the meritless takfīr of the Deobandī elders.

False Allegation against Maulānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī & Ḥifẓ al-Īmān

The letter begins with the allegation against Maulānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī:

Ashraf ‘Ali Thanwi, in his book Hifdh-ul-Iman, in order to show the knowledge of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم as less compared the Prophet’s knowledge to children, madmen, rather all animals and quadrupeds.

This is an outright falsehood. Details can be found in the third Arabic article linked above, and p68-80  from The Decisive Debate and p60-69 from A Critique of Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn. A summarised response can be read here and here and here.

In the passage of Ḥifẓ al-Īmān in question, Maulānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī was not trying to “show the knowledge of the Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam to be less” as alleged here. Rather, he was arguing against the use of the title “‘Ālim al-Ghayb” for the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam).

Nor did he compare prophetic knowledge to the knowledge of children, madmen and animals. Rather, he contended that if it is based on mere possession of some knowledge of unseen that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) is to be referred to as “‘Ālim al-Ghayb”, then mere possession of some knowledge of unseen is not unique to the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam); in this case, all and sundry, even children, madmen and animals can be called “‘Ālim al-Ghayb” given that they all have some knowledge of unseen. As can be seen, there is no comparison made between the actual knowledge of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) and these others.

Moreover, in Ḥifẓ al-Īmān itself, a few paragraphs after the above, Maulānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī says: “The knowledges that are consequential to and necessary for prophethood were acquired by [the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam)] in their totality.” (Ḥifẓ al-Īmān, p17) It is clear he is not trying to “show prophetic knowledge as being less” when he affirms full and complete knowledge of those things that are needed for prophethood; and it is clear he does not believe such knowledge is attained by a non-prophet.

Maulānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī himself answered the false allegation of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān that he compared or drew an equivalence between prophetic knowledge and the knowledge of children, madmen and animals in a subsequent treatise called Basṭ al-Banān, which is appended to most editions of Ḥifẓ al-Īmān.

False Allegation against Maulānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī & Barāhīn e Qāṭi‘ah

The letter then moves on to the allegation against Maulānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī, and by extension Maulānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī. It states:

Khalil Ahmad Ambethwi, in Barahin-i-Qati’ah, wrote that the knowledge of Shaytan is greater than the knowledge of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم . By writing an attestation upon this book, Rashid Ahmad Gangohi supported this disparagement.

Again, this is complete falsehood. For a detailed explanation, see this article, as well p39-67  from The Decisive Debate and p46-54 from A Critique of Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn and answer 18 & 19 from al-Muhannad ‘ala ‘l-Mufannad (authored by Maulānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī himself). Also see the second Arabic article linked above.

Maulānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī was discussing specifically certain types of worldly knowledge, namely knowledge of human actions and what takes place in human gatherings etc. An earlier work called Anwār e Sāṭi‘ah apparently argued for complete knowledge for the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) of such things based on an analogy with Shayṭān, whose knowledge of these things is proven. Maulānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī responded that analogy cannot prove such things, and while it is proven textually that Shayṭān was given such knowledge it is not proven for the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). As clear, this is regarding specific types of worldly knowledge, not about knowledge in general – similar to how the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) himself said: “You have more knowledge of the matters of your world.” (Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim)

Regarding knowledge in general, and in particular religious and otherworldly knowledge, Maulānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī said explicitly in al-Muhannad ‘ala ‘l-Mufannad (p70-71) that the Prophet’s knowledge is most extensive. He had also said in Barāhīn e Qāṭi‘ah: “Not even the least Muslim will claim likeness with the Pride of the World (upon him blessings) in proximity to Allāh and his lofty perfections.” (Barāhīn e Qāṭi‘ah, p7) Of course “lofty perfections” would include knowledge. That is, in knowledge of things on which perfection and virtue depend, none is more knowledgeable than the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam).

But at the same time, the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) asked protection from knowledge that is of no benefit. (Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim) Hence, useless, senseless, and even filthy and dirty knowledge, are unbefitting for the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). It is no virtue if Shayṭān has lots of them and the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) does not.

False Allegation against Maulānā Qāsim Nānotwī & Taḥdhīr un Nās

The letter then moves on to the allegation against Maulānā Qāsim Nānotwī. It states:

Qasim Nanotwi, in his book Tahdhir un Nas, explained that it is possible for a new prophet to emerge after our Noble Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and denied the meaning of Final Prophet as being Last in terms of time.

This, again, is complete falsehood. For details, see this article, the first Arabic article linked above and p18-31 from The Decisive Debate and p24-33 from A Critique of Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn.

In Taḥdhīr un Nās, Maulānā Qāsim Nānotwī says explicitly that the belief in the Prophet’s (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) finality in terms of time is an absolute necessity of belief and its denial is disbelief.

Maulānā Qāsim Nānotwī merely presents an additional meaning to the term Khātam al-Nabiyyīn that along with meaning the last prophet in terms of time, it also means the prophet that topped all other prophets in terms of perfection. Several centuries before him, ‘Allāmah al-Khafājī had written: “Khātam [in “Khātam al-Nabiyyīn”] is with kasrah & fatḥah on the tā’ – [it means] the end of them and the one in whom is their [total] perfection” (Nasīm al-Riyāḍ, Dārul Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 3:31)

This is precisely what Maulānā Nānotwī stated in Taḥdhīr un Nās: that Khātam al-Nabiyyīn has both meanings of 1) being the prophet that tops all other prophets in perfections and 2) the last of them in time. To explain further, Maulānā Nānotwī said that given the first meaning (i.e. topping all other prophets in perfections), in the hypothetical scenario that a prophet came after the Prophet Muḥammad (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) this would not violate his being the Khātam al-Nabiyyīn, i.e. in the first meaning, and he would top even that hypothetical prophet by virtue of this meaning of Khātam al-Nabiyyīn. Even in making this hypothetical judgement, he made it clear that it hinges on Khātam al-Nabiyyīn in the first meaning – while he explicitly endorses Khātam al-Nabiyyīn in the second meaning also, and in fact says very clearly that anyone who denies the chronological finality of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) is a disbeliever. Given this, to claim he stated that it is factually possible for another prophet to appear is a complete distortion of what he had written.

Adamance on False Takfīr

After presenting these false allegations, the letter then declares:

All of these matters are unequivocal, certain and unanimously agreed upon as being Kufr and there is no room for any valid interpretation for these statements.

It is unbelievable how statements completely removed from what they are alleged to mean by Barelwī Takfīrīs are declared by them to “unequivocally” hold those meanings! The degree of delusion and deception in this comment is truly astounding.

The letter continues:

The controversial statements of the aforementioned books are proven unequivocally via mass transmission and all the leading Deobandi scholars are unanimously agreed upon the fact that these statements indeed belong to their scholars. One will be unable to find even two Deobandi scholars who disagree with this fact.

Yes, there is no debate that Maulānā Qāsim Nānotwī authored Taḥdhīr un Nās or that Maulānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī authored Barḥīn e Qāṭi‘ah or that Maulānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī authored Ḥifẓ al-Īmān. The debate is only over how passages from these books are (mis)represented and (mis)interpreted, namely by alleging that Maulānā Qāsim Nānotwī in Taḥdhīr un Nās said it is factually possible for another prophet to come after the Prophet Muḥammad, that Maulānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī in Barḥīn e Qāṭi‘ah said Shayṭān has more knowledge than the Prophet Muḥammad (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) and that Maulānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī in Ḥifẓ al-Īmān said prophetic knowledge is comparable/equivalent to the knowledge of children, madmen and animals. This (mis)characterisation is certainly not “proven via mass transmission”. Rather, it is clear distortion and fabrication, indeed calumny and slander.

Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn and its Attestations

The letter continues:

The Takfir of these four scholars is recorded in Husam-ul-Haramayn. The signatures of thirty three scholars of the Haramayn are present in this and hundreds of scholars of the Indian subcontinent also made Takfir.

The takfīrs of the four elders of Deoband recorded in Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn is based on distortion and fabrication as explained in detail in The Decisive Debate and A Critique of Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn.

On the value of the signatures of the scholars from the Ḥaramayn, see the discussion from Maulānā Ḥusain Aḥmad Madanī’s al-Shihāb al-Thāqib. The most prominent scholars of Makkah did not sign the document, and those that did made the endorsement conditional on the accuracy of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s claims and attributions – either explicitly or implicitly. So, given that the claims and attributions are false, the attestations and signatures hold no weight.

With characteristic Barelwī browbeating, the letter continues:

What is your stance in this regard? Is it disparagement or not to compare the knowledge of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم to children, madmen and animals? If it is then whoever is guilty of such disparagement, is he a Kafir or not? If he is a Kafir then why is Ashraf ‘Ali Thanwi not a Kafir? Is it disparagement or not to assert that the knowledge of the accursed Shaytan is greater than the knowledge of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم? If it is then whoever is guilty of such disparagement, is he a Kafir or not? If he is a Kafir then why is Takfir not made of Rashid Ahmad Gangohi and Khalil Ahmad Ambethwi? If someone claims that it is possible for a new prophet to emerge after our Noble Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم then is such a person a Kafir or not? If he is then one who writes or says this, is he Kafir or not? If he is a Kafir then why is Takfir not made of Qasim Nanotwi?

It is not contested that drawing an equivalence between prophetic knowledge and knowledge of children, madmen and animals, or saying Shayṭān is more knowledgeable than the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) or believing it is factually possible for another prophet to emerge after the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) is kufr. What is contested is that these things were said by these scholars. And as shown an umpteen number of times, the attributions are completely false.

The letter continues:

Our question is not regarding the Takfir of every Deobandi individual. Rather, specifically it is regarding the four leading Deobandi scholars, whose aforementioned statements from their books have been translated into Arabic and English and brought to your attention by Indo-Pak scholars numerous times alongside the explanation for their Takfir. Generally it is regarding every individual, upon whom the Kufr of these statements has been made clear from debates, speeches and writings. Notwithstanding this, such individuals consider these scholars as their religious guides. To this extent, after this much clarification, one who doubts the Kufr of these Deobandi leaders also becomes a Kafir.

This statement shows the efforts to which Barelwīs go to satisfy their urges of meritless takfīr against Deobandīs. They will try to throw it in the faces of outside scholars, alongside their usual deceptive “explanation” and commentary. The letter-writers should consider that maybe not all outside scholars can be intimidated and browbeaten. Some may actually choose to look into the matter and with a little inspection conclude that the allegations are false and slanderous. If the takfīr was so clear-cut and obvious (like the takfīr of Qādiyānīs), why are Barelwīs so hellbent on mutilating passages, and why do they have to distort evidence while “proving” the takfīr?

Imkān al-Kidhb

The letter then brings up the issue of imkān al-kidhb:

It is also the belief of Deobandis that lying is a possibility for Allah تعالى ,i.e. speaking a lie is within the Divine Power. This was written by Rashid Ahmad Gangohi in his Fatawa and Isma’il Dehlawi in his epistle Yak Rozi. However in many books of ‘Aqa’id of Ahl-us-Sunnah it is clearly stated that the Divine Power is only related to possibilities, not necessities nor impossibilities. This is because if a necessary matter is within the Divine Power then it becomes a possibility, whereas it is necessary. Likewise if an impossible matter is within the Divine Power then it becomes a possibility, whereas it is impossible.

It is strange that they provide references to an Urdu work, Fatāwā Rashīdiyyah, and a Farsi work, Yak Rozī, even though this issue is explained in al-Muhannad ‘ala ‘l-Mufannad, an easily accessible Arabic work attested to by all major Deobandī scholars of the early era. They probably chose not to refer to al-Muhannad because it provides evidence from the statements of the scholars of Kalām that issuing false speech within the kalām lafẓī is within Allāh’s power though its occurrence is not possible, and scholars from the Arab world of that time endorsed their explanation.

Yes, necessities and impossibilities are not included within Allāh’s power. Issuing a false statement, however, does not fall under intrinsic impossibilities but under intrinsic possibilities. It is just like putting a pious believer in Hell or putting a wretched disbeliever in Heaven – such things are intrinsically possible given Allāh’s power over them, but their occurrence is impossible. For an explanation, see this (in English) and this (in Arabic).

The letter continues to provide evidence that issuing false speech is impossible:

Lying is a defect and it is impossible to ascribe defects to the Divine Essence of Allah تعالى. It is stated in Sharh-ul-‘Aqa’id Jalali, “Lying is a defect and defects are impossible for Allah. Thus lying is not from possibilities, nor is it included within the Divine Power, just as all causes of defect are impossible for Allah تعالى ,e.g. ignorance and incapacity.” [Al-Dawwani ‘Alal ‘Aqa’id Al-‘Adadiyyah, p73, Mujtaba’i, Delhi, reference from Fatawa Ridawiyyah 15:329] In Sharh-ul-Maqasid it is stated, 6 “Lying is impossible for Allah. Firstly due to the consensus of the scholars. Secondly due to mass transmission of reports of the Prophets والسالم الصالة عليهم .Thirdly due to lying being a defect by the unanimous agreement of intellectuals. It is impossible for Allah تعالى”. [Sharh-ul-Maqasid 2:104, Dar-ul-Ma’arif an-Nu’maniyyah, Lahore, reference from Fatawa Ridawiyyah 15:517]

It should first be noted that there are explicit statements from the scholars of Kalām stating that issuing a false statement within the kalām lafẓī (verbalised speech), as opposed to the kalām nafsī (self speech), is from the possibilities contained within Allāh’s power, although its occurrence is impossible. For example, al-Sharīf al-Jurjānī writes about falsehood in the verbalised speech that it is “from the possibilities included within Allah’s power” (min al-mumkināt allatī tashmaluhū qudratuh). (Sharḥ al-Mawāqif, 8:331) ‘Allāmah Isma‘il al-Kalnabawi (d 1205 H) says: “In sum, lying being ugly in the kalām lafẓī, in the sense that it is an attribute of imperfection, is not accepted according to the Ash‘arīs. That is why al-Sharīf al-Muḥaqqiq said it is from the category of possibilities, while acquiring decisive knowledge of its non-occurrence in His speech by consensus of scholars and prophets does not negate its intrinsic possibility.” (Ḥāshiyat al-Kalnabawī ‘ala ‘l-Jalāl, p.449-50)

More quotes can be found in al-Muhannad ‘ala ‘l-Mufannad and in Juhd al-Muqill.

What about the quotes the Barelwī letter-writers reproduce from Aḥmad Riḍā Khān? Regarding the first quote from al-Dawwānī, Maulānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī contends that it is regarding the kalām nafsī and not the kalām lafẓī. (Tazkirat al-Khalīl, p145) The statement from Sharḥ al-Maqāṣid is also very clearly regarding the kalām nafsī. The original quote can be found on page 158-9 of the fourth volume of Sharḥ al-Maqāṣid (available here). In this way, it is possible to reconcile the apparently conflicting statements.

Istighāthah

The letter further alleges:

Furthermore Deobandis generally consider the one who seeks help from the inhabitants of graves as a disbeliever and polytheist. They consider the one who calls upon inhabitants of graves from afar as a polytheist akin to the disbelievers of the Quraysh who call upon idols.

This is false. Deobandīs do not say istighāthah (asking for help from saints who have passed away) is always major shirk. They regard it to be impermissible and expressions of shirk (and thus sometimes refer to it as “shirk”), but only true shirk when accompanied by a belief that the being called for help is an independent agent. This same position on istighāthah was articulated by Ḥanafis before Deobandīs like Ṣun‘ullāh al-Ḥalabī (who is also pre-Wahhābī), Qāḍī Thanā’ullāh Pānipatī and Shaykh Maḥmūd Ālūsī.

Maulānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī has a short Arabic write-up on tawassul. One of the types of tawassul he describes is istighāthah. He defines it as “calling to [a creature] and seeking his help in the manner of the idolaters. This is ḥarām by consensus. As for whether it is manifest shirk or not, its criterion is that if he believes in his independence in bringing about an effect, it is shirk in creed, of a blasphemous nature…[and otherwise, it is not]” (Bawādir al-Nawādir, p. 706) Then, explaining the meaning of “independence”, he says:

معنى استقلاله أن الله قد فوض إليه الأمور بحيث لا يحتاج في إمضائها إلى مشيئته الجزئية وإن قدر على عزله عن هذا التفويض

“The meaning of his ‘independence’ is that Allāh had authorised him with powers in such a way that he does not need His particular will in [each instance of] executing those [powers], although He has the ability to depose him from this authorisation.” (Bawādir al-Nawādir, p. 708)

He has also explained a similar principle in a work called Nihāyat al-Idrāk fi Aqsām al-Ishrāk, which has been translated.

Maulānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī also differentiates between different beliefs, and does not state istighāthah is automatically shirk akbar. He references Shah Isḥāq Dehlawī, the grandson and successor of Shāh ‘Abdul Azīz Dehlawī.

Mawlid

They continue:

They consider those who commemorate the Mawlid as misguided innovators etc.

To celebrate the birthday of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) in the month of Rabī‘ al-Awwal as an institutionalised, habitual, ritual practice done each year is indeed an innovation. Deobandī elders were not the only ones to denounce this practice. Abū Isḥāq al-Shāṭibī, Tāj al-Dīn al-Fākihānī, Abū ‘Abdillāh al-Ḥaffār and other scholars had also denounced the birthday celebration, which was initially introduced by the Shī‘ī Rawāfiḍ some time around the fourth or fifth centuries of Hijrah.

Deobandīs do not have issue with holding a gathering, without ritualising or institutionalising a particular time, to praise and glorify the Prophet Muḥammad (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). For more detail, see here and here.

Takfīr

The letter-writers finally make the absurd claim:

The Wahhabis and Deobandis consider Ahl-us-Sunnah as hell bound polytheists. Are such Wahhabis and Deobandis people of truth?

Takfīr is the pastime of Barelwīs and Wahhābīs, not Deobandīs. Deobandīs do not consider Ahl al-Sunnah to be hell-bound polytheists. On the other hand, Barelwīs do consider innocent imāms of Ahl al-Sunnah and those who do not consider them to be disbelievers hell-bound disbelievers. Maulānā Ḥusayn Aḥmad Madanī points out in al-Shihāb al-Thāqib (p221-4) that in truth it is Barelwīs that resemble Wahhābīs in their most characteristic trait i.e. takfīr, and thus are more deserving of that appellation than Deobandīs.

Concluding Note

Evidence-based critique of the takfīr and false allegations against Deobandīs as presented above generally elude dyed-in-the-wool Barelwīs like those that authored this letter. For them it makes no difference whether an explanation is given or not, whether their misinformation is exposed or not. The verdict given by Maulānā Manẓūr Nu‘mānī based on a decade-long experience from a century ago still rings true today. He writes:

In my earlier phase, after ten years of experience, it became a ‘true certainty’ for me that the educated flag bearers and leaders of this [Barelwī] fitnah of takfīr never misunderstood or made an academic slip. They themselves know very well that our elders are completely free of those heretical beliefs they attribute to them. In short, I do not have even an atom’s weight of doubt in the ungodliness that purely for their worldly benefits and interest, they wilfully slandered and falsely accused our elders. Therefore, there is no hope that if they understand the matter through the means of writing or lecturing, this fitnah will end. Not only once or twice, again and again, through the means of writing and lecturing and discussion, attempts have been made to make them understand. Books have been written. Debates have been had. And by the grace and mercy of Allāh Almighty and His accordance and support, in those books and those debates, the matter was composed and written in such a way that if in reality there was some misunderstanding or academic error then this matter would have ended long ago. But the reality is that, since this fitnah-mongering is the means of their work and livelihood, even if they are made to understand a thousand times, they will never accept. This condition of theirs is exactly like the stubborn actions of those who oppose Allāh, regarding whom the Noble Qur’ān says: ‘And they denied them, though their souls acknowledged them, for spite and arrogance.’ (27:14)

This is why I am certain that talking with these instigators to make them understand is merely a waste of time and actually helps their cause. This is why it is my sure opinion that all of this should be avoided, and the policy mentioned in these words of the Qur’ān should be adopted clearly: ‘There is no argumentation between us and you. Allāh will bring us together, and to Him is the final return.’ (42:15) Thus, I will no longer correspond with the flag bearers and leaders of this fitnah of takfīr who have made this fitnah-mongering their occupation and work.

However, it is no doubt the right of those poor Muslim laymen who, being deceived by their scholarly form and scholarly dress, became afflicted by this fitnah of takfīr, that in a suitable manner they are made to understand and an attempt is made to save them from this fitnah. In this respect a grassroots and general method is that in the place where this fitnah is manifest, to explain to the educated Muslims amongst them the actual truth and the reality of these fitnah-stirrers, and then they will make attempts to make the masses understand. (The Decisive Debate, p. 13-4)


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

January 17, 2020

Context

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Complete Passage of Barāhīn e Qāṭi‘ah

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Barāhīn e Qāṭiah, p52-7)

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

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

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

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

[2] See: Barāhīn, p27

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


A Critique of Husam al-Haramayn: English Translation of ‘Ibārāt e Akābir by ‘Allāmah Sarfrāz Khān Ṣafdar

January 13, 2019

‘Allāmah Sarfrāz Khān Ṣafdar’s (1914 – 2009) ‘Ibārāt e Akābir, a work written in 1972, is a detailed appraisal of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s false fatwās of takfīr against the Akābir of Deoband. An edited and adapted English translation of the work has alḥamdulillāh been completed, and can be found at the link below.

The book not only provides a detailed and clear rebuttal of the allegations made in Ḥusām al- Ḥaramayn, but also some allegations made against Shāh Ismā‘īl Shahīd in Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s al-Kawkabat al-Shihābiyyah (and in other Barelwī writings).

There are also responses to allegations made based on two dreams mentioned in the writings of Shaykh Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī and Shaykh Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī.

The work clearly demonstrates Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s deception, distortions, extremism in takfīr and the lie of his carefulness in issuing takfīr. The book has the added advantage of providing short biographies of the personalities Aḥmad Riḍā Khān assaults and providing clear translations and citations of useful passages from original Urdu works (some for the first time made available in English).

The introduction also offers a useful historical background, showing Aḥmad Riḍā Khān and his senseless takfīrism was opposed by mainstream Sunnī scholarship of his day, even by those unaffiliated with the madrasa of Deoband and its luminaries.

Read here: https://barelwism.files.wordpress.com/2019/01/a-critique-of-husam-al-haramayn-imam-sarfraz-khan-safdar.pdf