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)


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

January 25, 2019

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

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

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

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

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


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


Imkān al-Kidhb and the Arab Scholars

December 31, 2018

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

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

Question Twenty-Four

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

Answer

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

Question Twenty-Five

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

Answer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(1) It says in Sharḥ al-Mawāqif:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 29, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Endorsements

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

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

Contents

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

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

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

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


Refuting the Allegation that Shah Isma’il Shahid Denied the Preservation of the Prophet’s Body

December 29, 2018

The fourth accusation Mawlana Nu’mani addresses in his book Hazrat Shah Isma’il Shahid aur Mu‘anidin Ahl e Bid‘at ka Ilzamat (pp. 70-81) is the accusation that Shah Isma’il denies the life of the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) in his grave. A summary of his reply is as follows:

First, in the passage in question, Shah Isma’il quotes the following narration:

Qays ibn Sa‘d (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated: I came to al-Hirah and I saw them prostrating to their governor, so I said [to myself]: “Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is more deserving of being prostrated to.” Then, I came to the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and I said to him: “Verily I went to al-Hirah and I saw them prostrating to their governor, while you, O Messenger of Allah, are more deserving of being prostrated to.” He said to me: “What is your opinion, if you were to pass by my grave, would you prostrate to it?” I said: “No.” He said: “Then don’t do [this].”

عن قيس بن سعد قال : أتيت الحيرة فرأيتهم يسجدون لمرزبان لهم فقلت : لرسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – أحق أن يسجد له ، فأتيت رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – فقلت : إني أتيت الحيرة فرأيتهم يسجدون لمرزبان لهم فأنت أحق بأن يسجد لك ، فقال لي : أرأيت لو مررت بقبرى أكنت تسجد له ؟ ” فقلت لا فقال : ” لا تفعلوا

(Abu Dawud)

What was the reason for the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) asking “What is your opinion, if you were to pass by my grave, would you prostrate to it”? The commentators have mentioned that the reason for this question was to illustrate that he is a mortal servant of Allah whose life upon the earth will end, and since this will be manifestly clear when he is in his grave, he asked this question. Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari said in the commentary: “‘He said to me’ – to demonstrate the greatness of lordship and realise the lowliness of servitude – ‘what is your opinion…'”

فقال لي ) : إظهارا لعظمة الربوبية وإشعارا لمذلة العبودية ( أرأيت

And then he quotes Tibi: “Meaning, prostrate to the Ever-Living One Who does not die, and Whose Dominion does not end, for you only prostrate to me now out of awe and reverence, for indeed when I am confined to the grave, this will end”

قال الطيبي – رحمه الله – : أي اسجدوا للحي الذي لا يموت ولمن ملكه لا يزول فإنك إنما تسجد لي الآن مهابة وإجلالا ، فإذا كنت رهين رمس امتنعت عنه

The upshot of these commentaries is that the question was asked in order to show the greatness of the everlasting and unperishing lordship of Allah, and the lowness of of the mortality and servitude of His creatures. Shah Isma’il’s exact statement in the commentary of the above hadith is:

ya’ni meh bhi eik din mur kur mutti meh milne wala ho, to kob sajdah ke laiq ho; sajdah to isi zat pak ko he keh neh mure kubhi

Translation: “Meaning, I will also one day die and mix with the earth when I will be undeserving of prostration. Prostration is for only such a Being that never dies.”

[This also illustrates the dishonesty of the Salafi translation GF Haddad used – there is no mention of an “eternal sleep”]

Mawlana Nu’mani says, the original text clearly says will “mix with the earth,” (mutti meh milne) and not will “become earth” (mutti ho jane), and in old Urdu “mixing with the earth” means to be buried in the grave (qabr meh dafn ho neh). Then he cites a couple of Urdu dictionaries which clearly state one of the recognised meanings of “mutti meh milne” is “being buried” (see p. 76 of the book). Mawlana Safdar mentions in Ibarat Akabir that Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi was asked about this passage from Taqwiyat al-Iman, and he replied that the phrase “mix with the earth” has both possibile meanings of “disintegration” and “burial,” and he says it was the latter that was meant by Shah Isma’il. And such a meaning is clearly consistent with the commentaries of Mulla Qari and Tibi above.


Majority of Nonpartisan Ulama of the Subcontinent Opposed Ahmad Rida Khan’s Takfir of the Four Deobandi Akabir

December 24, 2018

Bara’at al-Abrar ‘an Maka’id al-Ashrar is a work written by Mawlana Abdur Ra’uf Khan Jaganpuri Faizabadi in the 1930s, in which the author collected the fatawa and signatures of hundreds of nonpartisan scholars throughout the subcontinent opposing the takfir of Ahmad Rida Khan Barelwi, and affirming that the Ulama of Deoband are “Sunni Hanafis” and unconnected to Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab/Wahhabis. It was written as a refutation of Hashmat Ali Khan and his al-Sawarim al-Hindiyya.

The work includes fatwas from established Darul Iftaas of the states of Tonk, Bhopal, Bahawalpur etc. (in undivided British India).

The work (first published in 1934) is available here:

https://ia601607.us.archive.org/13/items/BaraatUlAbraHighQuality/Baraat%20Ul%20Abrar%20High%20Quality.pdf