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.


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.


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.


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)

The Ruling on Mawlid

March 6, 2020

When considering the permissibility or otherwise of the “Mawlid”, it is necessary to define what is meant by “Mawlid”. “Mawlid” can be used in two different senses:

1. Gatherings in which the Messenger of Allāh (peace and blessings be upon him) is extolled and glorified, by reciting ḥadiths on his shamā’il (characteristics), reciting poetry on his praise and so on.

2. The public religious celebration of the time of year in which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was born – i.e. what is commonly known as “‘Īd Mīlād al-Nabī”, or what al-Shāṭibī (d. 790) defines as “treating the day of the prophetic birth as an ‘Id” (al-I‘tiṣām, 1:46) or what Abū Shāmah (599 – 665 H) defines as: “That which is done each year on the day coinciding with his (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) birth, in giving charity and doing good, and public display of adornment and joy.” (al-Bā‘ith ‘alā Inkār al-Bida‘ wa l-Ḥawādith, p. 21)

Notice, the first definition refers to a general gathering of praise, irrespective of time. The second definition refers to the celebration of a particular time of the year and treating that as a religious occasion.

The first definition of Mawlid is permissible at all times, in Rabī‘ al-Awwal and outside of Rabī‘ al-Awwal, as long as it is not accompanied by any evils or impermissible activities.

The second definition of Mawlid is an impermissible innovation. Yes, there were some great scholars after the sixth century of Hijrah who deemed it permissible, including Abū Shāmah himself, but this on its own does not make it an acceptable practice. (Some scholars who deemed “Mawlid” permissible were referring to the first meaning and not the second.)

At times, views that become popular at later times can be in error and can be a result of foreign influence. A good example is the belief regarding the parents of the Beloved Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him). In the first few centuries of Islām, Sunnī scholars were clear on their belief that the parents of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) are not saved, while Shī‘ah adhere to a doctrine of prophetic bloodline and hence believe (in spite of conflicting evidence) that they are saved. Hence, Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī mentions in a general sense that the Ahl al-Sunnah believe the parents of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) are not saved while the Shī‘ah say otherwise. But later scholars were influenced by some weak arguments and fabricated ḥadīths, and popularised the view that they were saved. A good, detailed discussion on this can be found in Niḍāl Ᾱlah Rashshī’s recent commentary on al-Fiqh al-Akbar (al-Badr al-Anwar, p. 401-449). [He also demonstrates that al-Suyūṭī misattributed the Shī‘ī view Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī was describing to al-Rāzī himself!]

Hence, just because something becomes popular in the later Ummah, and is supported by prominent scholars, it does not automatically mean that it is good or even an acceptable difference of opinion.

The public religious celebration of the time of year in which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was born, which we will refer to as “‘Īd Mīlād al-Nabī” for short, was initiated by the Shī‘ah (Mawsū‘at al-Shaykh al-Mufīd, 7:50-1; al-Khiṭaṭ, 2:216-8), whose religion is full of innovation and fabrication. It was then adopted by some Sunnīs some time during the end of the sixth century of Hijrah, and gained popular support.

Inventing a Religious Season is not Permissible

Ibn Daqīq al-‘Īd (625 – 702 H) writes:

قد منعنا إحداث ما هو شعار في الدين. ومثاله: ما أحدثته الروافض من عيد ثالث، سموه عيد الغدير. وكذلك الاجتماع وإقامة شعاره في وقت مخصوص على شيء مخصوص، لم يثبت شرعا 

We have indeed been forbidden from inventing something that becomes a symbol of the religion, like what the Rawāfiḍ invented, of a third ‘Īd which they call ‘Īd al-Ghadīr. And similarly [we are forbidden from] assembling and making it a symbol for a specific occasion for a particular matter, that has not been established in Sharī‘ah.” (Iḥkām al-Aḥkām, 1:170)

Al-‘Izz ibn Abd al-Salām (577 – 660 H) states:

وأما ليلة النصف من شعبان فلها فضيلة، وإحياؤها بالعبادة مستحب، ولكن على الإنفراد من غير جماعة، واتخاذ الناس لها ولليلة الرغائب موسما وشعارا بدعة منكرة

“As for the night of mid-Sha‘bān, it has virtue, and reviving it with worship is recommended, but individually and without congregation. People [publicly] treating this and the night of Raghā’ib as a [religious] season and symbol [of religion] is an evil innovation.” (Musājalah ‘Ilmiyyah, p.41)

Ibn al-Ḥājj (d. 737) said:

فأولى بالمنع إذا أحدثت لتلك الصلاة تسمية ووقت خاص بها، وصارت شعارا ظاهرا شائعا لم يكن معروفا إلا فى القرن الخامس، فقد صارت هذه الصلاة بهذه الهيئة الإجتماعية يفتقر استحبابها إلى دليل شرعي مستقل على مشروعية إقامتها جماعة فى المساجد والمواضع المشهورة

“More deserving of prohibition is when this ṣalāh is invented a name and time particular to it, and it becomes a public, widespread, symbol, that was not known except in the fifth century. Indeed the recommendation of this ṣalāh, in this public manner, requires a separate Shar‘ī evidence on the legality of establishing it in congregation in the masjids and public places.” (al-Madkhal, 4:260)

Ḥāfiẓ Zayn al-Dīn Ibn Rajab al-Ḥanbalī (736 – 795 H) said:

عن معمر عن ابن طاووس عن أبيه قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: لا تتخذوا شهرا عيدا ولا يوما عيدا. وأصل هذا أنه لا يشرع أن يتخذ المسلمون عيدا إلا ما جاءت الشريعة باتخاذه عيدا، وهو يوم الفطر ويوم الأضحى وأيام التشريق، وهي أعياد العام، ويوم الجمعة، وهو عيد الأسبوع، عما عدا ذلك فاتخاذه عيدا أو موسما بدعة لا أصل لها فى الشريعة

“It is reported from Ma‘mar from Ibn Ṭāwūs from his father, he said: The Messenger of Allāh said: ‘Do not treat any month as an ‘Īd, nor any day as an ‘Īd.’ (Muṣannaf ‘Abd al-Razzāq, 4:291)* The basis of this is that it is not legislated for Muslims to treat as ‘Īd beside what the Sharī‘ah has presented as it being treated as ‘Īd, which is the day of Fiṭr, the day of Aḍḥā and the days of Tashrīq, and these are the ‘Īds of the year, and Friday, the ‘Īd of the week, and anything besides this [not established in Sharī‘ah], to treat it as ‘Īd or a [religious] season is a bid‘ah having no basis in the Sharī‘ah.” (Laṭā’if al-Ma‘ārif, Dār Ibn Khuzaymah, p. 285)

* ‘Abd al-Razzāq also narrates from Ibn Jurayj from ‘Aṭā’ ibn Abī Rabāḥ: “Ibn ‘Abbās would forbid fasting the whole of Rajab, so that it is not treated as an ‘Īd.” (Muṣannaf ‘Abd al-Razzāq, 4:292)

It should be noted that this ruling refers to the situation that such a practice (of treating a time of the year as a religious season) is done in a ritualistic way – in that it appears to be a fixed ritual celebration of the religion. If it is done for obvious practical (non-ritualistic) reasons, like holding a ceremony upon the completion of Qur’ān or a book of ḥadīth, this would not fall under the same category.

The ‘Īd Mīlād al-Nabī is an Impermissible Innovation

Since the ‘Īd Mīlād al-Nabī is a ritualised, public celebration of a particular time of the year, that has no basis in the first few centuries of Islām, it falls under the category of what the scholars above have mentioned, and thus is a reprehensible innovation. Ibn al-Ḥājj said: “Amongst the bid‘ahs they have innovated – while believing that it is from the greatest of rituals – and has been publicised as a symbol [of the religion] is: the Mawlid that they practise in the month of Rabī‘ al-Awwal.” (al-Madkhal, 2:2)

The love for the Messenger of Allāh (peace and blessings be upon) should be expressed in the manner expressed by the ṣaḥābah, and if anything extra is done to make up for a shortcoming in this regard, it should be done in ways that are permissible in the Sharī‘ah conveyed to us by the Beloved Messenger (peace and blessing be upon him), not by inventing a new ‘Īd or religious season.

Regarding the ‘Id Mīlād al-Nabī, ‘Allāmah Ẓaḥir al-Dīn Ja‘far al-Tazmantī (d. 682) said: “This practice did not occur in the early period of the pious Salaf, in spite of their glorification and their love for him – such glorification and love that us put together will not amount to [the love of] even one of them, and not even an atom’s weight of it!” (Subul al-Hudā, 1:442) Referring to the “gathering some people do in Rabī‘ al-Awwal”, Imām al-Fākihānī (654 – 731 H) states “the Sharī‘ah has not given permission for this, nor did the ṣaḥābah practise it, nor the tābi‘īn, and nor the practising ‘ulamā’.” (al-Mawrid fi l-Mawlid)

Often supporters of ‘Īd Mīlād al-Nabī conflate the second meaning of Mawlid with the first, and accuse those who oppose the ‘Īd Mīlād al-Nabī of opposing the general mention and glorification of the Messenger of Allāh (peace and blessing be upon him). It should be clear that such a conflation is incorrect.

Those who do not partake in the ‘Īd Mīlād al-Nabī should not be accused of lacking in love for the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). Their non-participation is a consequence of their love for the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and for what he taught, in particular his teaching not to introduce anything new into the religion that he came to convey to us. It does not make sense to do something that the Beloved Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) would himself disapprove of in the name of his love.

Meaning of Bid‘ah – Mawlānā Manẓūr Nu‘mānī

June 21, 2019

In a polemic against a Barelwī writer, Mawlānā Manẓūr Nu‘mānī (1905 – 1997) wrote on the meaning of bid‘ah in Sayf e Yamānī (a work written in 1930, endorsed by leading Deobandī scholars, including Mawlānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī and ‘Allāmah Shabbīr Aḥmad al-‘Uthmānī):

Linguistically, bid‘ah refers to something new, and in the terminology of the ‘Ulamā’ of Sharī‘ah, the term is used for two meanings: one, every action which came into existence after the time of Janāb Rasūlullāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) and was not present in his time – in which case this action in view of Sharī‘ah can at times be good and at times bad; second, anything that is not from matters of dīn and people begin to regard it as a matter of dīn – this is also called “real bid‘ah” or “legal bid‘ah”, and such bid‘ah is always blameworthy. Our Prophet, the commander and forbidder, upon him and his progeny blessing and peace, said:

من أحدث في أمرنا هذا ما ليس منه فهو رد

“Whoever introduces into this matter of ours what is not from it, it is rejected.”

It should also be understood that the ‘Ulamā’ who divided bid‘ah into two categories of “good” and “bad”, their intent is the first meaning of bid‘ah, about which we have mentioned that in view of Sharī‘ah it can at times be good and at times bad. Those noble ‘Ulamā’ who have unrestricetedly censured bid‘ah and determine all bid‘ahs to be bad, their intent is this latter meaning, and based on this, the Messenger of God (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) said:

كل بدعة ضلالة وكل ضلالة فى النار

“Every bid‘ah is deviance and every deviance is in the Hellfire.”

Thus there is no contradiction between the two statements, and in fact those who regard them to be contradictory and opposing are pure ignoramuses.

Yes, keeping in mind the attitude of the commoners in our time, it is an obligation of the ‘Ulamā’ of the Ummah to adopt this latter methodology and not open the door of deviance by dividing bid‘ah. Thus, possessors of foresight from the earlier scholars adopted this [methodology]. Imām Rabbānī Maḥbūb Subḥānī Ḥaḍrat Sayyid Aḥmad Ṣāḥib Mujaddid Alf Thanī (Allāh have mercy on him) wrote in his Maktūbāt:

“People say that bid‘has are two categories: good and bad. Good refers to the good action that was invented after the Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) and the rightly-guided caliphs (Allāh be pleased with them), and does not remove a Sunnah, while bad is what removes a Sunnah. This Faqīr does not see goodness and illumination in these bid‘ahs, and does not sense anything besides darkness and murkiness in them.”

Then he said, and how brilliant is what he said:

“The leader of man (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) has said that one who introduces into dīn what is not from it, it is rejected. How can something rejected be good?”

Further, he said:

“Since every new thing is bid‘ah and every bid‘ah is deviance, what is the meaning to bid‘ah being good? Further, it is realised from ḥadīths that each and every bid‘ah is a cause of removal of a Sunnah. No bid‘ah is exempted from this. Thus, every bid‘ah is deviance.” (Maktūbāt, volume 1, part 3, p 73)

In these holy Maktūbāt (letters), second volume, part 6, page 56, there is a long letter, the subject-matter of which is this [topic]. For the purpose of brevity, I will quote a few sentences of it below:

“However, this Faqīr does not agree with him on this matter and does not recognise any individual bid‘ah as ‘good’, and does not sense anything besides darkness and murkiness within bid‘ah. The Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) said: ‘Every bid‘ah is deviance.’ In this time, of Islām being strange and weak, safety is only in following Sunnah, and corruption comes from perpetrating bid‘ah, whatever bid‘ah it may be. This Faqīr recognises bid‘ah to be like a shovel, which renders the foundation of Islām fallen, and recognises Sunnah to be like bright stars which give guidance in the dark night of deviance. Allāh give direction to the ‘Ulamā of the time to not express with their tongue the word ‘good’ for any bid‘ah, and not give fatwā for the permissibility of any bid‘ah, even if that bid‘ah in their view appears to be like the light of a bright morning because Satanic deception gains great power in anything besides Sunnah.”

It is clearly evident from these statements of Ḥaḍrat Imām Rabbānī that according to him, this division of bid‘ah opens a very wide door to deviance, and at a time of trials, he regarded it as a major calamity for the Muslims particularly, and did not approve of it at all.

Moreover, this is also the methodology of ‘Allāmah Muḥaqqiq Sayyid Sharīf [al-Jurjānī], Khātam al-Ḥuffāẓ Ibn Ḥajar al-‘Asqalānī, ‘Allāmah Ibn Ḥajar al-Haytamī (Allāh, Exalted is He, have mercy on them). Thus, Khātam al-Muḥaqqiqīn Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Muḥammad ‘Abdul Ḥayy Ṣāḥib Firangī Maḥallī (Allāh illuminate his resting place) wrote in his book Tuḥfat al-Akhyār:

والقول الثاني وهو الأصح بالنظر الدقيق: أن حديث كل بدعة ضلالة باق على عمومه، وأن المراد به البدعة الشرعية، وهي ما لم يوجد فى القرون المشهود لها بالخير، ولم يوجد له أصل من الأصول الشرعية، ومن المعلوم أن كل ما كان على هذه الصفة فهو ضلالة قطعا، وإلى هذا القول مال السيد في شرح المشكوة، والحافظ ابن حجر فى الهدى الساري مقدمة فتح الباري، وفي فتح الباري، وابن حجر المكي فى الفتح المبين شرح الأربعين وغيرهم (تحفة الأخيار

“The second view, which is the more authentic upon closer scrutiny, is that the ḥadīth, ‘Every bidah is deviance’, remains on its generality, and the intent of it is legal bid‘ah, which is all that was not present in the eras whose virtue has been attested to, and does not have a basis from the bases of Sharī‘ah. It is obvious that everything with such characteristic is definitely deviance. Sayyid in Sharḥ al-Mishkāt, Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Ḥajar in al-Huda al-Sārī introduction to Fatḥ al-Bārī and in Fatḥ al-Bārī and Ibn Ḥajar al-Makkī in al-Fatḥ al-Mubīn Sharḥ al-Arba‘īn and others have inclined to this view.”

(Sayf e Yamānī, p. 96-9)

Deobandī Position on the Mawlid – Mawlānā Manẓūr Nu‘mānī

June 16, 2019

‘Azīz Aḥmad Kānpūrī, a Barelwī polemicist, wrote in a 1929 tract called ‘Aqā’id Wahhābiyyah Deobandiyyah: “According to Deobandī Wahhābīs*, Mīlād Sharīf is impermissible in all conditions even if it is in accordance with Sharī‘ah, and no Mīlād or ‘Urs is permissible. It is not permissible to participate in Mīlād Sharīf or ‘Urs. It states in Fatāwā Rashīdiyyah, vol. 3, p. 83: ‘It is impermissible in all conditions to hold a gathering of Mawlūd. It is forbidden on account of public invitation to something mandūb (recommended).’”

Mawlānā Manẓūr Nu‘mānī responds in Sayf e Yamānī (See: here), a book written in 1930, endorsed by leading Deobandī scholars, including Mawlānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī and ‘Allāmah Shabbīr Aḥmad al-‘Uthmānī:

Allāh, the All-Knowing, All-Aware, is witness to the fact that according to us, the pure commemoration of the blessed birth of the Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) is a cause of mercy and a means of blessing just like other beautiful commemorations, and indeed commemorating the excrement of the Prophet, and even the sweat and urine of his camel, is without doubt a cause of reward. This is stated explicitly in many places of Fatāwā Rashīdiyyah. For the satisfaction of readers, we will cite only three passages from the first volume of Fatāwā Rashīdiyyah.

It states in the first volume of Fatāwā Rashīdiyyah, on page 70:

“No one forbids the commemoration of the birth itself.”

Similarly, it states on page 109 of the same volume:

“The commemoration of the birth itself is recommended. Its detestability occurs on account of restrictions.”

Then on page 142 of this volume it states:

“The commemoration of the birth of the Pride of the World (upon him blessing) itself is recommended. But on account of being attached to these restrictions, this function has become impermissible.”

It is clearly evident from each one of these passages that Mawlānā [Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī] Marḥūm would consider the commemoration of the birth of the Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) itself to be recommended and desirable, but would regard holding a function of Mīlād to be incorrect. If you are unable to distinguish the commemoration of the birth itself and holding a [specific annual] function, then this is a shortcoming in your understanding.

[Poem not translated]

It is indeed strange that those who cannot understand the difference between iṭlāq (an unrestricted action) and taqyīd (a restricted action) have a passion to criticise the speech of the ‘Ulamā’ of the Ummah and the righteous of the religious community. Readers, an example of this is exactly like someone who says: “A stolen sheep is ḥarām”, and some younger brother of the author of the treatise ‘Aqā’id Wahhābiyyah Deobandiyya, ‘Azīẓ Aḥmad Ṣāḥib, says: “According to him, even a sheep is ḥarām, the permissibility of which is proven from explicit text!”

Thus, in this manner it should be understood that the commemoration of the birth itself which holds the position of an unrestricted action (ilāq) is according to us something desirable, while holding [a Mīlād function], in the notion of which public invitation (tadā‘ī) and other emphases and specifications are included, and which holds the position of a restricted action (taqyīd), is according to us forbidden and incorrect. How can anyone object to this? Is not public invitation and other [ritual] emphases on something permissible or desirable reprehensible according to the Ḥanafī Fuqahā? It states in Muslim Sharīf that Ḥaḍrat ‘Abdullāh ibn ‘Umar (Allāh be pleased with him) saw some people gathering for Ḍuḥā Ṣalāh with emphasis, and he described this practice of theirs as bid‘ah, even though Ḍuḥā Ṣalāh in itself is something desirable, on which ṣaḥīḥ ḥadīths have been transmitted.

It states in Musnad Imām Amad that Ḥaḍrat ‘Uthmān ibn Abi l-‘Āṣ (Allāh be pleased with him) was invited to a circumcision and he refused to go. Someone asked why. He said: “We would not go to circumcisions in the time of the Prophet and nor was there a practice of inviting people.” (Musnad, 4:217)

It is realised from these two ḥadīths that in [ritual] matters on which the Pure Sharī‘ah has not taught public invitation and other emphases, public invitation and emphasis on it is bid‘ah and forbidden. If there is sound intellect and a sense of fairness, all obscurities on the topic of Mīlād would be resolved from these few lines.

Further, even if this obvious difference between the commemoration of the birth itself and holding a [specific annual] function is ignored, even then, it is safer to not give permission for holding this function, to block the door (saddan li ‘l-bāb) [to evil], just as Ḥaḍrat Maḥbūb Subḥānī Quṭb Rabbānī Sayyidunā Shaykh Aḥmad al-Fārūqī Mujaddid Alf Thānī (Allāh’s mercy be upon him) wrote on this gathering of Mīlād:

“If recited such that distortion does not occur in Qur’ānic words and without the aforementioned [blameworthy] conditions being realised in the Qaṣa’id, and even that is with correct intention, what is there to prevent its allowance? Master! It comes to the mind of the Faqīr: If this door is not completely shut, the people of passion will not cease [taking advantage of it]. If a little is permitted, it will lead to much. There is a famous saying, ‘A little of it leads to much of it.’” (al-Maktūbāt)

Finally, I also wish to state that forbidding holding such a function is not specific to us or our Akābir, but for centuries, ‘Ulamā’ of Ahl al-Sunnah have been writing thus. Thus, ‘Allāmah Ibn al-Ḥājj [d. 737 AH], who Mawlawī Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Ṣāḥib referred to as “Imām” in Inbā’ al-Muṣṭafā, wrote in his famous book Madkhal:

ومن جملة ما أحدثوه من البدع مع اعتقادهم أن ذلك من أكبر العبادات وإظهار الشعائر ما يفعلونه فى الشهر الربيع الأول من المولد وقد احتوى ذلك على بدع ومحرمات

إلى أن قال:

وهذه المفاسد مترتبة على فعل المولد إذا عمل بالسماع فإن خلا منه وعمل طعاما فقط ونوى به المولد ودعا إليه الإخوان، وسلم من كل ما تقدم ذكره فهو بدعة بنفس نيته فقط، لأن ذلك زيادة فى الدين، وليس من عمل السلف الماضين واتباع السلف أولى (مدخل ابن الحاج، مطبوعة مصر، جلد أول، ص ٨٥)

“Amongst the bid‘ahs they have innovated – while believing that it is from the greatest of rituals – and has been publicised as a symbol [of the religion] is: the Mawlid that they practise in the month of Rabī‘ al-Awwal, which comprises of innovations and prohibited things…These harms are consequential upon the practice of Mawlid when practised with Samā‘. If [the Mawlid] is free of [Sama’], and one only prepares food intending the Mawlid, and calls friends to it, and it is free of all [the evils] that were mentioned earlier, it is a bid’ah by virtue of this intention alone because that is an addition in the Dīn and is not from the practice of the early Salaf, while obeying the Salaf is superior.”

It is clearly evident from the underlined part of this passage of Madkhal that if the function of Mīlād is devoid of other evils, even then, only because of holding a function with a specific emphasis, it is bid‘ah and not correct in Sharī‘ah. This is exactly what is mentioned in Fatāwā Rashīdiyyah.

Mawlānā ‘Abd al-Raḥmān Maghrībī wrote in his Fatāwā;

إن عمل المولد بدعة لم يقل به ولم يفعله رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم والخلفاء والأئمة، كذا فى الشرعة الإلهية

“The practice of Mawlid is innovation, neither endorsed nor practised by the Messenger of Allāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace), nor the Caliphs, nor the Imāms. This is stated in al-Shir‘at al-Ilāhiyyah.”

In Fatāwā Tufat al-Quāt of Qāḍī Shihāb al-Dīn [Aḥmad ibn ‘Umar] Dawlatābādī [d. 849 H], it states that Qāḍī Sāḥib was asked about the Mīlād function, and he said:

لا ينعقد لأنه محدث وكل محدث ضلالة وكل ضلالة فى النار

“It is not to be held because it is innovation, and every innovation is misguidance and every misguidance is in the Fire.”

Mawlānā Naṣīruddīn al-Shāfī‘ī wrote in response to a questioner:

لا يفعل لأنه لم ينقل عن السلف الصالح، وإنما أحدث بعد القرون الثلاثة فى الزمان الطالح، ونحن لا نتبع الخلف فيما أهمل السلف، لأنه يكفى بهم الإتباع، فأي حاجة إلى الإبتداع؟!

“It is not to be done because it is not transmitted from the Salaf Sālih but it was invented after the first three generations in an impious time, and we do not follow the Khalaf in what the Salaf did not do, as they are sufficient for following, so what need is there to innovate?”

Shaykh al-Ḥanābilah ‘Allāmah Sharaf al-Dīn (Allāh have mercy on him) states:

إن ما يعمل بعض الأمراء في كل سنة احتفالا لمولده صلى الله عليه وسلم فمع اشتماله على التكلفات الشنيعة بنفسه بدعة أحدثه من يتبع هواه

“What some rulers do every year in celebration of his (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) birth, along with comprising of horrible formalities, it is bid‘ah itself, those following desires having invented it.”

From all these citations, it becomes as clear as the light of day that from an earlier time, ‘Ulamā’ of the four madhhabs did not look at this practice favourably. I wish to further quote a comprehensive passage from the book al-Qawl al-Mu‘tamad of ‘Allāmah Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad Miṣrī. The aforementioned ‘Allāmah states:

ومع هذا قد اتفق علماء المذاهب الأربعة بذم هذا العمل، فممن يذمه: قال العلامة معز الدين حسن الخوارزمي في تاريخه: صاحب إربل الملك مظفر الدين أبو سعيد الكوكبري، كان ملكا مسرفا يأمر علماء زمانه أن يعملوا باستنباطهم واجتهادهم، ولا يتبعوا مذاهب غيرهم حتى مالت إليه جماعة من العلماء وطائفة من الفضلاء، وكان يحتفل لمولد النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم فى الربيع الأول، وهو أول من أحدث من الملوك هذا العمل.

“Along with this, ‘Ulamā’ of the four madhhabs have agreed on censuring this practice. From those that censured it: ‘Allāmah Mu‘izz al-Dīn Ḥasan al-Khawārizmī said in his Tārīkh: The king of Irbil, King Muẓaffar al-Dīn al-Kawkaburī [d. 630 AH]. He was an extravagant king; he would tell the ‘Ulamā’ of his time to operate on their own deductions and judgements, and not follow the madhhabs of others (i.e. just like Ghayr Muqallids); subsequently, a group of the ‘Ulamā’ and a section of the righteous tended towards him. He would celebrate the Mawlid of the Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him) in Rabī al-Awwal and was the first king to introduce this practice.”

Since at this juncture exhausting such passages is not the objective, I will suffice on these few. It should be kept in mind that the passages quoted up to now are only of those who, together with being known amongst the Ummah, are accepted authorities on both sides. From all these passages, sufficient light is shed on our approach.

The permissibility or impermissibility of ‘Urs remains. Regarding this, we also say clearly that, undoubtedly, what people today call ‘Urs is impermissible according to us, and not only according to us, but it has this ruling according to all the Akābir of the Ummah.

The grandson and special student of Ḥaḍrat Shāh ‘Abdul ‘Azīz Ṣāḥib (Allāh have mercy on him), Ḥaḍrat Shāh Muḥammad Isḥāq Ṣāḥib Dehlawī, wrote on this ‘Urs in his famous book Kitāb Arba‘īn:

“It is not permissible to specify the day of ‘Urs. It states in Tafsīr Maẓharī:

لا يجوز ما يفعله الجهلاء بقبور الأولياء والشهدا من السجود والطواف حولها واتخاذ السرج والمساجد إليها، ومن الإجتماع بعد الحول كالأعياد ويسمونه عرسا

‘What the ignorant do at the graves of the Awliyā’ and Shuhadā, i.e. prostrating, circling around them, making lights and making masjids towards them, and assembling around them annually like ‘Id and calling it ‘Urs, are not permissible.’”

Similarly, Qāḍī Thanāullāh Ṣāḥib Pānipatī (Allāh’s mercy be upon him), who maintains a distinguished status in the Naqshbandī family, and who was called the “Bayhaqī of the Time” by Shāh ‘Abdul ‘Azīz, said in his well-known and famous book Irshād al-ālibīn:

“Elevating the graves of the Awliyā’ of Allāh, constructing domes over them, doing ‘Urs and its likes, and lighting, all of these are bid‘ah. Some of these practices are ḥarām and some makrūh. The Messenger of Allāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) had cursed such people who light up graves or prostrate to them.”

Do tell, is it now only the ideology of “Wahhābī Deobandīs” to call Mīlād and ‘Urs impermissible? One should now realise with which Akābir of the religion the ‘Ulamā of Deoband maintain connection.

Noble readers, consider the approach of our RazāKhānī friends. A practice that earlier and later scholars have deemed bad, if, following earlier scholars, the ‘Ulamā’ of Deoband today also censure it and forbid it, this forbiddance according to them is an unforgivable crime! [It is a case of] the thief pointing the finger at the officer!

The virtues of a people are faults to some.

Oh Owner of the Throne, You are witness that the crime of ours and our Akābir is nothing but that we are adamant on the Sunnats of Your Pure Beloved, the holder of the station of “Lawlāka”, Ḥaḍrat Muḥammad Rasūlullāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace), and are repulsed by innovations. (Sayf e Yamānī, p. 22-29)

Then, he addresses another common charge of Barelwīs, articulated by the same ‘Azīz Aḥmad Kānpūrī, that Deobandīs are deceptive and state in their work al-Tadīqāt li Daf‘ al-Talbīsāt (al-Muhannad ‘ala ‘l-Mufannad) that the Mawlid function is recommended. Mawlānā Manẓūr Nu‘mānī responds:

Al-Tadīqāt is not some lost book, which is unavailable. It is not some handwritten fatwā which can be altered, changed or tampered with. Rather, it is a published, widely available book, thousands of copies of which can be found in Hindustan. I will copy its passages below, from which readers will notice whether the commemoration of the noble birth itself is said to be recommended or holding the function of Mīlād; then recite an elegy over the insight and integrity of the author of Aqāi’d Wahhābiyyah (i.e. ‘Azīz Aḥmad Kānpūrī). From line 15 of Tadīqāt, page 27, it states:

“Far be it that any of the Muslims say, let alone we, ourselves, say, that commemorating his noble birth (upon him blessing and peace), rather even commemorating the dust on his shoes and the urine of his (Allah bless him and grant him peace) camel, are deemed blameworthy in the Shari‘ah, from the evil and prohibited innovations; for, commemorating the states which have the least connection with the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is from the most desirable of recommended acts (ahabb al-mandubat) and the greatest of preferable acts (a‘la l-mustahabbat) according to us, whether it is the commemoration of his noble birth or commemoration of his urine, feces, standing, sitting, sleeping and waking.”

Then from line 10, page 29, this content is concluded with these words:

“Far be it that we say that commemorating the noble birth is abominable and a bid‘ah.”

Readers, for God’s sake, be fair! Who is it that is being deceptive and stating a clear lie? (Sayf e Yamānī, p. 29-30)

‘Azīz Aḥmad Kānpūrī further asks: “Do you people [Deobandīs] conduct Mīlād Sharīf without specifying [a date] or Qiyām?”

Mawlānā Manẓūr Nu‘mānī responds:

It is our preoccupation day and night to discuss and study the blessed Sīrah of the Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) and all the conditions of his life, from his celestial existence [in the world of souls] to his physical existence, then from birth to death, from death to resurrection, from resurrection to the hereafter, from the hereafter to eternity – in brief, all statements, deeds and actions. This is not the lot of the RazāKhānīs. Their lot is only to mention the birth on the date of the twelfth and that too using unreliable reports. In our lot, all conditions of the Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace), the Sīrah, battles, commands, prohibitions, deeds, engagements, statements, actions etc. etc. all occur. Reading them and teaching them, distributing them and publishing them, is our life’s effort. All praise to Allāh, the Master of all worlds. We raise our hands in supplication that Allāh makes our end in this most excellent of pursuits. May our last breath depart beneath your feet, this is the heart’s anguish, this the hope.** (Sayf e Yamānī, p. 112-3)

* “Wahhabi” is a common Barelwi slur for Deobandis, one that has been refuted extensively, in particular by Mawlana Husayn Ahmad Madani in al-Shihab al-Thaqib. Deobandis differ with true Wahhabis on a number of core issues. For more detail, see here.

** A poem expressing the desire to live one’s entire life in service of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam)


The Blasphemy and Kufr of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī According to Barelwī Standards

January 6, 2019

In an academic refutation of Mawlānā ‘Abdus Samī‘ Rāmpūrī, Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī explained that it is not correct to affirm certain kinds of worldly knowledge (on which virtue does not depend) for the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) merely based on the fact that others that are inferior to him, like the Angel of Death or Satan, have acquired this knowledge. In fact, to attribute such knowledge to the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) that has not been proven to have been acquired by him would be to affirm non-granted, intrinsic knowledge for him, which is shirk. (Barāhīn-e-Qāi‘ah, p. 54-7)

Based on this explanation, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī ruled that Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī had insulted the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) and had affirmed more knowledge for Satan than the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). He further implicates Mawlānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī for having endorsed Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī’s work. The allegation that this is an insult and that it amounts to holding the blasphemous belief that Satan is more knowledgeable than the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) has been responded to in detail by Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī himself and other scholars. (See, for example, The Decisive Debate, p. 41-60).

The irony is that Mawlānā ‘Abdus Samī‘ Rāmpūrī in his work Anwār-e-Sāi‘ah, which was the text that was refuted in Barāhīn-e-Qāi‘ah, explicitly states:

The supporters of the gatherings of Mīlād (meaning, himself and those of his persuasion) do not claim that Rasūlullāh (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) is present in all places of the world, pure and impure, and in religious and irreligious gatherings, while it is established that the Angel of Death and Iblīs are present in far more places, pure and impure, and of disbelief and non-disbelief.

A PDF of the work can be found at the following link:

And this passage can be found on page 254. The Urdu is as follows:

Ahl e Mefil e Mīlād to Rasūlullāh allallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam ke zamīn kī tamām pāk wa nāpāk jagah aur majālis mazhabī wa ghayr mazhabī mein āzir hone ka dawā nehein kurte jubkeh malak al-mawt aur iblīs kā iss se bihī ziyādah tar pāk wa nāpāk aur kufr wa ghayr kufr ke maqāmāt mein āzir hona pāyā jāta hein

In this passage, Mawlānā ‘Abdus Samī‘ Rāmpūrī explicitly states that Satan is present in more places of the world than the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). He is thus saying that Satan has a greater presence than the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam)! If Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī’s statement is blasphemy and kufr, Mawlānā ‘Abdus Samī‘ Rāmpūrī’s statement is undoubtedly blasphemy and kufr.*

Yet, we find that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī endorsed this work! His endorsement can be found on pages 381-386 of the above edition. He says: “I happened to have a look at some of [Mawlānā ‘Abdus Samī‘ Rāmpūrī’s] pure speech, like Dāfi‘ al-Awhām, at al-Qulūb and Anwār-e-Sāi‘ah, the contents of which I found to reflect their titles. May Allāh give the author the best of rewards.” (ibid. p. 386)

The challenge Barelwīs face is that if they are to insist on Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s false takfīr of Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī, it would backfire and they would have to make takfīr of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān himself! But if they reject Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s takfīr of Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī, then they would be rejecting a pillar of Barelwism. A perfect catch-22.

* An important distinction should be noted between the statements of Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī and Mawlānā ‘Abdus Samī‘ Rāmpūrī.

Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī does not say “Satan is more knowledgeable than the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam)” as was imputed to him by Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī. His discussion was clearly about the knowledge of certain worldly items (like geography, people’s circumstances). In such matters which having knowledge of implies no extra virtue or merit, Satan was given a greater awareness. But in matters on which virtue and excellence depend, there is no one more learned than the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam).

In Mawlānā ‘Abdus Samī‘ Rāmpūrī’s statement, however, there is no such distinction. A clear statement is made that Satan is present “in far more places” than the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam)! Thus, according to Barelwī understanding, he has affirmed a quality of perfection to a greater quantity for Satan than for the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). Based on their principles, there can be no doubt that this is blasphemy and kufr.

UPDATE (09/01/19):

Abu Hasan, the fraud and liar*, has responded to the above**. Ignoring the typical insults, his response boils down to: The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) chooses to not be present at such lowly places. In short, although Mawlānā ‘Abdus Samī‘ Rāmpūrī explicitly drew a comparison between the Satan and the Prophet, and said Satan is “present in far more places” than the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), this is not blasphemy or an insult because being present at such places is unbefitting the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). So, what we establish from this is that Abu Hasan Barelwi, the fraud and liar, believes that it would not be blasphemous to affirm an apparent quality of perfection (i.e. being present) for Satan to a greater quantity than the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). In fact, to Abu Hasan, it may even be a virtue that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) is not present at such lowly places while the Satan is.

Given this admission, it will be far easier for a Barelwī to make sense of Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī’s discussion.

As the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) is a human being and a creation, his knowledge was acquired and was not intrinsic. Hence, he does not possess all knowledge by his very nature, but acquired knowledge via revelation. In fact, the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) asked protection from knowledge that is of no benefit. (Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim) This would undoubtedly include knowledge of certain details of the world and of detailed descriptions and circumstances of people. Such lowly knowledge does not befit the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) but does befit Satan whose preoccupation is to know about the world and the detailed circumstances of people. (Despite this, Barelwīs affirm such lowly knowledge for the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam).)

Qāḍī ‘Iyāḍ wrote:

فأما ما يتعلق منها بأمر الدنيا، فلا يشترط في حقالأنبياء العصمة من عدم معرفة الأنبياء ببعضها، أو اعتقادها على خلاف ما هي عليه، ولا وصم عليهم فيه.. إذ هممهم متعلقة بالآخرة وأنبائها.. وأمر الشريعة وقوانينها.. وأمور الدنيا تضادها.

– بخلاف غيرهم من أهل الدنيا الذبن «يعلمون ظاهرا من الحياة الدنيا وهم عن الآخرة هم غافلون …ولكنه لا يقال إنهم لا يعلمون شيئا من أمر الدنيا فإن ذلك يؤدي إلى الغفلة والبله وهم النزهون عنه

“As for that which is connected from these [knowledges] with the affair of the world, protection is not a condition with respect to prophets, in that the prophets are unaware of some of it or hold a belief about it contrary to reality. There is no blemish on them in this, since their aspirations are connected to the next life and its events, and the matter of Sharī‘ah and its laws, while the matters of the world are contrary to these, as distinguished from others of the people of the world who ‘know the outward of the worldly life and are heedless of the next life.’ (Qur’ān, 30:7)…Although it may not be said that they know nothing of the affair of the world because that will amount to ignorance and foolishness which they are free of.” (al-Shifā’, Jā’izah Dubai, p. 631-2)

He makes the same point in another place of the work with reference to the ḥadīth, “You are more aware of the affairs of your world.” (al-Shifā’, p. 723) Then he 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.” (ibid. p. 724)

Hence, understood in this light, what Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī said is in fact in honour of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam)’s blessed knowledge: it is free of the nonsense and useless things that occupy the mind of Satan. This is precisely what he 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 learned 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, p. 71)

The only issue that remains is Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī referring to the belief that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) has such detailed worldly knowledge as “shirk”. The reason it is described as shirk as clear from the context of his discussion in Barāhīn e Qāṭi‘ah is that to affirm such knowledge based only on a false analogy implies the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) acquired the knowledge without it being granted to him, or without any intermediary, but just of his own. Such a belief is shirk. For a fuller explanation, see The Decisive Debate***, p. 60-3, where this objection is discussed. The sentence that Abu Hasan quoted, in context, means the following (with Mawlānā Manẓūr Nu‘mānī’s explanation in parentheses):

The upshot is, it should be considered, that upon seeing the condition of Satan and the Angel of Death [meaning, seeing that they have acquired knowledge of the places of the world as is understood from the evidences of Mawlawi ‘Abd al-Sami‘ Sahib], to affirm encompassing knowledge of the world [i.e. intrinsic knowledge] for the Pride of the World (Allah bless him and grant him peace) against decisive texts, without evidence, and purely from corrupt analogy [meaning, based on the logic that since the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is superior to Satan and Angel of Death, due to his superiority, all knowledge of the world will self-generate in him], if it is not shirk then what part of faith is it?

This expanse for Satan and the Angel of Death [meaning, with Allah’s command having knowledge of many places of the world] is proven by text [meaning, those texts with Mawlawi ‘Abd al-Sam Sahib presented]; the expansive knowledge of the Pride of the World [meaning, intrinsic knowledge because by corrupt analogy and pure reason only this is established, and this is understood from the context of Hazrat Mawlana’s discussion], which decisive text is there due to which all texts are rejected and one shirk is established? (Barāhīn e Qāṭi‘ah, p. 55)

One should also take note of the dishonesty of Abu Hasan’s translation where he says: “proving such encompassing knowledge of the earth for the Pride of the World”. The liar and fraud should be asked, where is the word “such” in the Urdu passage?

* See for examples:



UPDATE 2 (09/01/19):

Another point worth bearing in mind is that Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī’s discussion is in line with what the Ḥanafī Fuqahā’ (whom he quotes) had written. In fact, we find a striking parallel. 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.”

The pseudo-Ḥanafī Barelwī might question this and object: They have considered it kufr to ascribe this knowledge to the Messenger of Allāh but not to the Kirāman Kātibīn, whereas if ascribing it to one is kufr it should equally be kufr to ascribe it to the other!

But, of course, this is due to a (intentional or unintentional) misunderstanding. It is kufr (and shirk) when the knowledge is ascribed to an individual for whom it is not proven that he has acquired that knowledge (as it would entail ascribing intrinsic knowledge of ghayb for him). It is not kufr if the knowledge is ascribed to an individual for whom it is proven that he had acquired that knowledge.

In the same way Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī says to affirm such extensive unbeneficial knowledge of insignificant worldly matters to the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) based on a corrupt analogy is shirk, because it is to affirm intrinsic knowledge for him. It is not shirk when affirmed for Satan because it is proven that he is present at such places and witnessing.

See how the pseudo-Ḥanafī Barelwī has inverted reality, and has made what is not kufr kufr, and what is kufr (i.e. affirming detailed knowledge of all things in creation for the Prophet) an acceptable belief?

Note also that the pseudo-Sunnī Barelwī religion, which is based on hawā and not ittibā, will fluctuate from Barelwī to Barelwī. Thus, Abu Hasan Barelwī is supporting the idea that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) is not present at such filthy and dirty places of the world; however, Barelwī debater, Muḥammad ‘Umar Icharwī, states that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) is present in such filthy places, but we just shouldn’t say he is! (Miqyās e Ḥanafiyyat, p. 279, 282)