Answering an Objection to Ḥifẓ al-Īmān – Did Maulānā Thānawī Restrict Virtue to Complete Knowledge of Ghayb?

January 7, 2020

Read this first.

A common objection raised (by Aḥmad Riḍā Khān himself and then his followers) against this passage of if al-Īmān* is that for endowing the title “‘Ālim al-Ghayb” for creation (based on knowledge of ghayb acquired via a means), Maulānā Thānawī only allows for two possibilities or options: ba‘ḍ ‘ulūm ghaybiyyah (partial knowledge of ghayb) or tamām ‘ulūm ghaybiyyah (complete knowledge of ghayb). It is as though he does not allow for anything in between for virtue or excellence in knowledge of ghayb.

This objection emanates from a misunderstanding of what Maulānā Thānawī was trying to achieve. His purpose was not to discuss at what point a person will be deserving of virtue or excellence. Rather, his purpose was to deter his readers from using the title “‘Ālim al-Ghayb” for any creature, as in Sharī‘ah it is a term exclusive to Allāh. He first explains that “‘Ālim al-Ghayb” is a term applied exclusively to a being who has knowledge of ghayb independently. Hence, to use the term for those who have knowledge of ghayb via a means is a misuse and misapplication. Then, in relation to using the term ghayb for unseen knowledge acquired via a means, he presents the argument found in the passage in question.

The objection raised against this passage will be answered briefly below.

Ghayb is a maṣdar (verbal noun). A maṣdar in principle refers to a single entity (fard), as stated in Nūr al-Anwār (المصدر الذي هو فرد). A single entity can either be literally a single entity (fard ḥaqīqī) or in terms of consequence (fard ḥukmī). The latter refers to the entirety of the thing, because the entirety of a thing in relation to other things is like a “single entity” although in and of itself it is many things put together.**

Hence the term “ghayb” mentioned in “‘Ālim al-Ghayb” either refers to any part of ghayb (which in this context means unseen knowledge received via a means) or it means every single thing from ghayb. If it is the first meaning that is meant, this is not unique to the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). Based on this, everyone will be entitled to be called “‘Ālim al-Ghayb”! In other words, based on this meaning, it would not be accurate to say the term can be limited to the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), as based on this meaning, another person can just as well claim it can be used for himself. And if it is the second meaning that is meant (i.e. complete ghayb), this is discounted for the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) by textual and rational evidences.

This in a nutshell is Maulānā Thānawī’s argument. As one can see, there is nothing problematic in this at all.

* The following passage:

“Further, if according to the statement of Zaid it is correct to apply the ruling of ‘ilm al-ghayb on the blessed person [of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam), based on which he will be called “‘Ālim al-Ghayb”], then he will be asked: Is the intent of this ghayb some ghayb or all ghayb? If some unseen knowledges are intended what then is the distinction of the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) in this? Such knowledge of ghayb [i.e. some ghayb as opposed to all ghayb] is acquired by Zaid, Amr, indeed every child and madman, and indeed all animals and beasts, since each individual knows something or another that is hidden to someone else. Thus, everyone should be called “‘Ālim al-Ghayb”!”

** So, for example, the scholars of Uṣūl state that the maṣdar “ṭalāq” (divorce) can refer to a single ṭalāq or to triple-ṭalāq, because the latter is the maximum number of ṭalāqs and thus is a single entity in terms of consequence. It cannot refer to two ṭalāqs, however.

 


Fabricating to Wahhābify Taqwiyat al-Īmān – The Case of Faḍl-e-Rasūl Badāyūnī and Sayful Jabbār

December 18, 2019

Faḍl-e-Rasūl Badāyūnī (1798 – 1872), a predecessor to Aḥmad Riḍā Khān (& someone greatly admired by him), and someone who opposed Shāh Waliyyullāh in writing (& apparently had Shī‘ī tendencies), wrote a tract called Sayful Jabbār against Mawlānā Ismā‘īl Dehlawī and his Taqwiyat al-Īmān, alleging that Taqwiyat al-Īmān is a spinoff of Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb‘s Kitāb al-Tawḥīd, and is thus literally Wahhābī in its provenance.

Sayful Jabbār was written around 1849, almost two decades after Shāh Ismā‘īl Shahīd was martyred, and more than three decades after Taqwiyat al-Īmān was written. In this work, Faḍl-e-Rasūl Badāyūnī presents to readers an Arabic epistle that he claims is authored by Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb as a summary of the contents of his larger work Kitāb al-Tawḥīd. He states that this summary was refuted by scholars of Makkah in 1221 H/1806 CE, which was penned down by a certain “Aḥmad ibn Yūnus al-Bā‘alawī”. However, this entire tale and the epistle itself are an obvious forgery.

Fabricators (including Faḍl-e-Rasūl Badāyūnī himself?) had taken Taqwiyat al-Īmān as a base text, and “translated” parts of it into Arabic, giving it the worst possible interpretation, and then claimed that this is Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb’s summary of his own book Kitāb al-Tawḥīd! One can read Kitāb al-Tawḥīd, and find that it bears no resemblance with this supposed summary. Rather, the alleged summary follows the order of Taqwiyat al-Īmān topically, but with additions and alterations that make it appear “Wahhābī” and extreme, and without the clear reference in the original Taqwiyat al-Īmān to the Hindu and Shi‘ī influences peculiar to an Indian context that Shāh Ismā‘īl Dehlawī was refuting.

The following are some examples showing clearly that this is a fabrication, and neither Ibn ‘Abdul Wahhāb nor Shāh Ismā‘īl could have written such a thing. References are to this edition of Sayful Jabbār. For the entire section describing the alleged Arabic epistle, see pages 99 – 193 of the work.

On page 156 of Sayful Jabbār, Faḍl-e-Rasūl Badāyūnī quotes from this alleged summary of Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb’s Kitāb al-Tawḥīd:

وأما الشفاعة بالإذن التي كلا شفاعة وهو المذكور فى القرآن والحديث فحالها أنها لا تكون لأهل الكبائر الذين ماتوا بلا توبة ولا للمصرين

“Intercession by permission which is like no intercession, and which is the one that is mentioned in the Qur’ān and Ḥadīth, its condition is that it will not occur for the perpetrators of major sins who died without repentance nor for those who persisted [on sins].”

The passage of Taqwiyat al-Īmān (p45) from which the fabricators drew this sentence is talking about the correct type of Shafā‘ah, which is that the sinner knows he doesn’t have anywhere to hide or run or seek protection against Allāh’s judgement i.e. he is a Muwaḥḥid, not a Mushrik. In this case, he will be deserving of Allāh granting permission to a close slave of His to seek intercession for him which will be a means of his being pardoned.

On page 169 of Sayful Jabbār, Faḍl-e-Rasūl Badāyūnī quotes from this alleged summary:

 فثبت بهذه الآية أن السفر إلى قبر محمد ومشاهده ومساجده وآثاره وقبر نبي وولي وسائر الأوثان وكذا طوافه وتعظيم حرمه وترك الصيد والتحرز عن قطع الشجر وغيرها شرك أكبر، فإن الله تعالى خصص هذه الأمور لذاته وأنزل هذه الآية لبيانه

“It is proven from this verse that travelling to the grave of Muḥammad and his sites, masjids and relics, and the grave of a prophet or saint and all idols, and likewise, circumambulating it and glorying its sanctuary, and leaving out hunting and avoiding cutting the trees etc., are Shirk Akbar (!), because Allāh, exalted is He, has made these things specific to His being and sent down this verse to explain this.”

Even Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb does not go as far as to say undertaking a journey to visit the grave of Rasūlullāh (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) is Shirk Akbar!

In Taqwiyat al-Īmān p57 the passage from which this sentence is “translated” is censuring the treatment of any place as a place of pilgrimage, where one slaughters an animal, makes ṭawāf and offerings etc. It does not refer to the grave of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) specifically; and it does not say that these actions are “Shirk Akbar”! It says only that they are “things to do with Shirk” (shirk kī bātein), which can refer to the lesser Shirk which Shāh Ismā‘īl explicitly referred to in an earlier part of his book.

On page 183 of Sayful Jabbār, Faḍl-e-Rasūl Badāyūnī quotes from this alleged summary of Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb’s Kitāb al-Tawḥīd:

أنظر كيف صرح النبي بشرك من حلف بغير الله فكيف نقول بإيمان من يقول بأبي وأمي وأبيه وبالنبي والمولى، فالحالف لهم مشرك كالحالف باللات والعزى

“Look how the Prophet has stated the one who takes an oath by other than Allāh has committed Shirk, so how can we propose one who says: ‘I swear by my father’ or: ‘I swear by my mother’ or: ‘I swear by his father’ or ‘by the Prophet’ or ‘by the master’ has faith? The one who swears by them is a Mushrik just like one who swears by Lāt and ‘Uzzā.”

Again, this is extremism not found even in Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb. What the corresponding passage of Taqwiyat al-Īmān (p85-6) actually states is: “It is realised from these ḥadīths that oaths are not to be taken by other than Allāh, and if it emerges from the tongue, then repentance should be made. Those by whom taking oaths was normal practice for the Mushrikīn [i.e. like Lāt and ‘Uzzā], there is infraction to īmān by taking oath by them.”

Shāh Ismā‘īl clearly differentiates between taking oath by Lāt, ‘Uzzā etc., in which case there is danger to īmān; and taking oath by others, which is not a danger to īmān but requires repentance.

There can be no doubt that the Arabic epistle Faḍl-e-Rasūl Badāyūnī presents here is a fabrication. Even the introduction to the epistle suggests fabrication, as it calls Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb “‘Abd al-Wahhāb”. The language throughout is poor, and is further proof that it could not have been authored by Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb or Shāh Ismā‘īl al-Dehlawī.

It is based on this fabrication that Faḍl-e-Rasūl Badāyūnī says Taqwiyat al-Īmān is like a translation and commentary of a summary of Kitāb al-Tawḥīd (Sayful Jabbār, p99) and Aḥmad Riḍā Khān says it is a translation of Kitāb al-Tawḥīd itself. This fabrication then formed the basis of the critique of the likes of Abu ‘l-Ḥasan Fārūqī (in his Mawlānā Ismā‘īl aur Taqwiyatul Īmān).

The alleged summary of Kitāb al-Tawḥīd was probably fabricated some time in the 1840s. Given a whole book was fabricated to defame Shāh Ismā‘īl Shahīd in order to make Taqwiyat al-Īmān out to be an outrageous book, and a spinoff of the notorious Arabian Kitāb al-Tawḥīd, is it difficult to believe that in the 1890s (or a little sooner) a fatwā was fabricated in the name of Mawlānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī that made out he believed it is permissible to hold the view that lying has actually occurred in Allāh’s speech? – A fatwā that he denied, as recorded by his student Mawlānā Murtaḍā Ḥasan Chāndpūrī, and not found in any of his published Fatāwā, and not recognised by his students. (The fabricated fatwā appears to be based on a passage of Barāhīn Qāṭi‘ah, just like the fabricated book was based on Taqwiyat al-Īmān itself.)

These are examples of outright fabrication, on the latter of which Aḥmad Riḍā Khān based his takfīr of Mawlānā Gangohī and all who do not recognise him to be a kāfir. The other takfīrs of the elders of Deoband are also in reality based on “fabrications”, although fabrications of meaning rather than fabrications of text, like the fabrication that Mawlānā Nānotwī claimed it actually possible for a new prophet to be appointed after the Prophet Muḥammad (ṣallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), or the fabrication that Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī had written that Satan’s knowledge is superior to the Prophet’s, or that Mawlānā Thānawī had written that the Prophet’s knowledge of unseen is equal to that of animals, children and madmen. See for refutations: here, here and here.

Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s contemporary heirs also have no problem with outright fabrication and lies. Like Aqdas Misbahi, who was exposed for lying about Taqwiyat al-Īmān, and still has not made a proper retraction or any kind of apology.

See also: the lies of Asrar Rashid, and the lies of Abu Hasan Barelwi.


Who was Shāh Muḥammad Ismā‘īl al-Dehlawī Refuting in Taqwiyat al-Īmān?

December 17, 2019

Shāh Muḥammad Ismā‘īl al-Dehlawī (1779 – 1831), who grew up in the household of his uncle Shāh ‘Abdul Qādir al-Dehlawī and studied under his esteemed uncle, Shāh ‘Abdul ‘Azīz al-Dehlawī (d. 1824), wrote Taqwiyat al-Īmān 6 years prior to the latter’s death, in 1818. In those 6 years, no one voiced any opposition to the work.

Taqwiyat al-Īmān was essentially a wake-up call to the common Muslims of India who were stooped in Hindu and Shī‘ī ritual practices and beliefs. It is clear from several places of Taqwiyat al-Īmān itself that Shāh Muḥammad Ismā‘īl Dehlawī is countering the “folk-religion” that had become popular amongst Muslims as a result of Hindu and Shī‘ī influence.

References below are from this edition of Taqwiyat al- Īmān.

Shāh Ismā‘īl says in one place:

It is realised from this ḥadīth that at the end of time even the ancient Shirk will become popular. This has occurred in accordance with what the Messenger of God foretold. Meaning, just like Muslim people behave idolatrously with prophets, saints, imāms and martyrs, in the same way, they are spreading the ancient Shirk and regarding [as divine] the idols of the disbelievers and are perpetuating their customs, like consulting the Brahmans, taking omens, believing [in the ill-omen of inauspicious] times, asking Shitala and Masani…,all such customs of Hindus and Majūs have found popularity amongst the Muslims. It is realised from this that the path of Shirk will open up for Muslims in this manner, such that they abandon Qur’ān and Ḥadīth and fall behind the customs of their ancestors. (Taqwiyat al-Īmān, p64)*

He also says:

In just the same manner that Christians say that all the workings of the universe and the universe [itself] are in the control of Ḥaḍrat ‘Īsā (upon him peace), and whoever accepts him and relies on him will not need to engage in any servitude, and no sin will harm him, and he will not have to distinguish ḥalāl and ḥarām, he will become as God’s shadow, whatever he wants he may do & will be protected in the afterlife with Ḥaḍrat ‘Īsa’s intercession for him, similarly, ignorant Muslims maintain a similar belief with respect to Ḥaḍrat Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace), and in fact even below him, with imāms and saints, and in fact maintain this belief in respect to all mullās and mashāyikh. May Allāh give guidance. (Taqwiyat al-Īmān, p91)

He further explains which Shirk he is refuting towards the beginning of the work:

In short, whatever Hindus do with their idols, these fake Muslims undertake with saints, prophets and imāms, angels and fairies, and make the claim of being Muslim. Subḥānallāh! This is the practice and this the claim. Allāh Ṣāḥib [2] has spoken the truth in Sūrah Yūsuf:

وما يؤمن أكثرهم بالله إلا وهم مشركون

“Most of them do not believe in Allāh but do Shirk.”

That is, most people who make the claim of īmān are caught up in Shirk. Further, if a sensible person were to ask these people: “You claim īmān but do acts of Shirk, why do you combine these two [contradictory] paths?” They answer:

“We don’t do Shirk, but we are expressing our devotion towards prophets and saints. We would only be Mushrik if we regarded these prophets, saints, pirs and martyrs as equals to Allah. This is not what we believe. Rather, we regard them to be slaves of Allāh and to be His creatures. The power of discretion (taṣarruf) Allāh Himself gave to them. By His approval they apply their control over the universe. Calling on them is the very same as calling onto Allāh, asking help from them is the very same as asking Him. They are beloved to Allāh, so whatever they want they will do. They will intercede to Him on our behalf and are agents. By reaching them we reach Him and by calling them we draw near to Allāh. The more we obey them the closer we get to Allāh.”

And they express [other] such superstitions. (Taqwiyat al-Īmān, p8)

From this, it is clear that Shāh Ismā‘īl al-Dehlawī is targeting a specific belief that the ignorant masses would hold: that beings apart from Allāh have independent powers of discretion (bestowed upon them by Allāh), based on which devotion of the kinds he listed are expressed towards them. It is not the case that he believed all such actions or devotions were in and of themselves impermissible or Shirk, but rather that they represent a culture of Shirk emerging from the idolatrous belief he describes. He refers to such idolatrous beliefs of the common people in other sections of Taqwiyat al-Īmān also.

He says in another place:

Meaning, [idolaters amongst Jews and Christians] would regard Allāh to be the greater Owner but would determine other, smaller, owners apart from him – the learned and the dervishes. They were not commanded to do this, and based on this, Shirk was established on them. He is unique, no one can be His partner.

Thus, He states in Sūrah Maryam:

إن كل من فى السموات والأرض إلا آتى الرحمن عبدا، لقد أحصهم وعدهم عدا وكلهم آتيه يوم القيمة فردا

“All who are in the heavens and the earth will come to the All-Merciful as slaves. He has control of them and has counted them. Each of them will come to him alone on the Day of Resurrection.”

Meaning, no angel or man maintains a position higher than slavehood, and are helpless in His grip, maintaining no power, and He applies His discretion over each one, not putting any in the control of another, and in every affair each will be present before Him alone, without making any a protector or agent over another. There are many other such verses bearing such meaning. Whoever understands these two to four verses, will be vigilant of the matter of Shirk and Tawḥīd. (Taqwiyat al-Īmān, p12-3)

In one place, he defines a person “free of Shirk” as “he does not regard any other apart from Allāh as owner, and does not recognise any place to flee from Him, and it is well established in his heart that a sinner has no refuge to flee to from Him, and that no-one’s strength has any force in opposition to Him, and no-one’s protection in opposition to Him has any force, and no-one can intercede for another by their own power”.  (Taqwiyat al-Īmān, p28)

He describes two mistaken beliefs in intercession, one which entails there are those whose dominion Allāh fears, and another which entails there are those whose love (na‘ūdhū billāh) incapacitates Allāh from executing His will (Taqwiyat al-Īmān, p43-5). Such beliefs probably originate from the Shī‘ah.

He speaks against the Muḥarram rituals of the Shī‘ah (Taqwiyat al-Īmān, p61-2), as explained in Abu ‘l-Ḥasan ‘Alī Nadwī’s footnotes to his Arabic translation (Risālat al-Tawḥīd, p108-10). Beliefs that most likely derive from Shī‘ah are also described e.g. believing in all encompassing knowledge of creation for prophets and imāms. (Taqwiyat al-Īmān, p13-4)

Hence, Shāh Muḥammad Ismā‘īl Dehlawī was refuting a culture of mistaken beliefs towards Allāh, that derive from regarding Allāh as a “superior” divine being, while there are other “inferior” divine beings with powers which were attained from Allāh Himself, and in which they are independent. He says in Radd al-Ishrāk, a work written approximately 20 years before Taqwiyat al-Īmān on which the latter work is based:

Realise that the shirk which the divine books came to nullify and the prophets were sent to eradicate is not limited to someone believing that the one he worships is equal to the Creator (Blessed and Exalted is He) in the necessity of existence or in encompassing knowledge of all creation or in creating the basic existents like the heaven and the earth, because it is not from the character of a human being to be mixed up with such belief unless he is disfigured like Fir‘awn and his likes, and no one can believe that the divine books were revealed and prophets were sent only to correct such disfigured ones only. How can this be when the Arab idolaters who the Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) called “idolaters” and fought and spilt their blood, put their children into captivity, and took their wealth as spoils, would not believe this as evidenced by His (Exalted is He) statement: “Say: In Whose hand is the dominion of all things and He grants protection and is not granted protection against, if you know, and they will say: Allāh. Say: Then how are you deluded?’ (Qur’ān, 23:88-9) and there are many such verses?

Rather, the meaning is to make another besides Allāh a partner with Him (Exalted is He) in divinity (ulūhiyyah) or lordship (rubūbiyyah). The meaning of “divinity” is to believe in respect to him that he has reached such a degree in qualities of perfection like encompassing knowledge, control by mere power and will, that he is beyond comparison and similarity with the rest of creation; which is by believing that nothing occurs…but that it is impossible for it to be hidden from his knowledge and he is witness to it; or believing that he controls things by force, meaning his control is not part of the means [Allāh has put in creation] but he has control over the means. The meaning of “lordship” is that he has reached such a degree in referring needs [to him], asking for solutions to problems and asking for the removal of tribulations by his mere will and power over the means that he deserves utmost servility and humbleness. That is, there is no limit to the extent of servility and humbleness shown to him, and there is no servility or humbleness but it is good in respect to him, and he is deserving of it… (Radd al-Ishrāk, p15-6)

This is also the type of Shirk that Shāh Waliyyullāh al-Dehlawī defines in his celebrated Ḥujjatullāh al-Bālighah:

The Mushrikūn agreed with the Muslims on the management of the major affairs, and in those things that have been decided and resolved and no choice has been left for another, but did not agree with them in everything else. They took the view that the righteous before them worshipped Allāh and gained nearness to Him so Allāh granted them divinity and they deserved worship from all of Allāh’s creation – just like the highest king, his slave serves him well so he grants him the cloak of kingdom, and hands over to him the management of a land so he deserves to be heard and obeyed by the residents of that land. They say worship of Allāh is not accepted unless joined to their worship, and in fact Allāh is in the height of loftiness so worshipping Him will not achieve drawing near to Him but rather it is necessary to worship these [co-gods] so they bring one near to Allāh; and they say they hear and see and intercede for their slaves and manage their affairs and assist them, so they carved out stones in their names and made them a qiblah for when they would turn their attention towards these [co-gods]… (Ḥujjatullāh al-Bālighah, p116)

If one reads the entire section of Ḥujjatullāh al-Bālighah on Tawḥid and Shirk, one will find Taqwiyat al-Īmān is effectively a restatement and expansion of what is found there. It should be noted Shāh Ismā‘īl was very familiar with his grandfather’s Ḥujjatullāh al-Bālighah and even taught it in the Ḥaram when he travelled to make Ḥajj in 1821/1822 with Sayyid Aḥmad Shahīd and his group. Shāh Waliyyullāh also said this type of Shirk is prevalent amongst the ignorant masses.

Shāh Ismā‘īl Shahīd also says in Taqwiyat al-Imān that Shirk is of two kinds: those that make a person a Kāfir and those that do not (Taqwiyat al-Īmān, p19). Some actions and beliefs he condemns (e.g. prostrating to another, slaughtering for another and taking oath by another) should therefore be understood to be referring to the latter kind; while some beliefs he mentions (e.g. belief in independent supernatural powers for individuals; belief in an incarnation; and belief in the incorrect types of intercession he describes) should be understood to be from the first kind.

If these two points are kept in mind:

  1. Shāh Ismā‘īl was refuting the folk-religion of common Muslims engrossed in actual Shirk of the type found amongst Hindus and extreme Shī‘ah
  2. He differentiated between Shirk that takes one out of Islām and one that doesn’t

One will not find anything that is problematic in Taqwiyat al-Īmān.

Note that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī held the absurd belief that Taqwiyat al-Īmān is a translation of Kitāb al-Tawḥīd. Are any of the above passages (or the passage translated below) found in Kitāb al-Tawḥīd? Does Kitāb al-Tawḥīd say one should take a person as their Ustādh and Pīr, as Taqwiyat al-Īmān does (see below)? Does Kitāb al-Tawḥīd say it is permitted to make Tawassul via a personality, as Taqwiyat al-Īmān (p82) does? Does Kitāb al-Tawḥīd refer to the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) as master of all the world and the greatest of creation, as Taqwiyat al-Īmān does?

* One point of note here is that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī claimed based on this passage that Shāh Ismā‘īl Dehlawī admitted to being a disbeliever, and had thus committed disbelief! (al-Kawkabat al-Shihābiyyah; al-Fatāwā al-Riḍawiyyah, Riḍā Foundation, 15:177-8) He bases this on the fact that the ḥadīth Shāh Ismā‘īl is commenting on talks about a wind that will take the lives of all believers and people will then return to the idolatry of their forefathers, under the commentary of which Shāh Ismā‘īl said: “This has occurred in accordance with what the Messenger of God foretold.” (Which, in his usual deceptive manner, is the only sentence Aḥmad Riḍā Khān quotes from the paragraph.) But it is clear from the entire paragraph that Shāh Ismā‘īl is talking about the beginning phase or the setting stage of what the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) foretold. This is also clear in both the English translation of Mir Shahamat Ali (“so the prophecy of the Prophet has begun to be verified in the present age”) and the Arabic translation of Abu ‘l-Ḥasan ‘Alī Nadwī (وقد تحقق ما أخبر به الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم فقد بدأ الشرك القديم), and the subsequent explanation of Shāh Ismā‘īl himself, and the fact that he ends by saying “the path of Shirk will open up for Muslims in this manner…”. See a refutation of this absurd objection in al-Junnah li Ahl al-Sunnah, p 81.

This is on top of the fact that Shāh Ismā‘īl Shahīd says clearly in Taqwiyat al-Īmān that he is a believer, in the very first paragraph: “My God: Thousands upon thousands of thanks to Your Pure Being for having bestowed upon us thousands of favours, and having demonstrated to us Your true Dīn, and brought us onto the straight path, and taught us true Tawḥīd, and made us from the Ummah of Your Beloved.” (Taqwiyat al-Īmān, p3). And he closed the book with the following: “Oh Owner of ours! Send thousands of blessings and peace upon this merciful and generous Messenger of Yours. The extraordinary efforts he has made to teach ignorant ones like us the Dīn, You repay this effort, for we are helpless slaves, completely powerless. And just as You have by Your grace taught us the meaning of Shirk and Tawḥīd well, and taught us the meaning of lā ilāha illAllāh well, and brought us out from the Mushrik people and made us Muwaḥḥids and pure Muslims, in the same manner, make us understand the meaning of Bid‘ah and Sunnah well, and teach us well the meaning of Muḥammadur Rasūlullāh, and bring us out from the deviant innovators and make us Sunnīs and pure adherents of Sunnah. Āmīn O Lord of the Worlds.” (Taqwiyat al-Īmān, p96)

———————————————-

We end here with a fresh translation of the first 10 or so pages of the book (which make up 1/10 of the book).

In Allāh’s Name, the Most Merciful, the Beneficent

My God:

Thousands upon thousands of thanks to Your Pure Being for having bestowed upon us thousands of favours, and having demonstrated to us Your true Dīn, and brought us onto the straight path, and taught us true Tawḥīd, and made us from the Ummah of Your Beloved, Muḥammad, the Messenger of Allāh, Allāh bless him and grant him peace, and put in us the passion to learn his way, and put in us love for his representatives who show his way and bring [people] to his path.

O Lord:

Send thousands upon thousands of salutations upon Your Beloved, his progeny, companions and his representatives, and show mercy on those who follow him, and make us of them, and keep us on this path in life and death, and count us amongst his followers. Āmīn, Lord of the Worlds.

To proceed:

It should be heard that all people are Allāh’s slaves and a slave’s job is servitude. The slave who does not serve is not a slave. The foundation of servitude is to correct one’s īmān, since when there is any infringement in īmān no service will be accepted, and when īmān is sound, then even a little servitude will be much. Thus, every person should make considerable effort to correct his faith, and should consider the obtainment of this as having priority over all else.

In this time, in regards to religion, people have trodden upon different paths. Some hold onto the traditions of those before them; many look to the tales of the saints; some hold as support what the Molvīs hastily extract with their minds; and some involve their own intellects. A superior path to all of these is to keep the statement of Allāh and His Messenger as foundation and hold it as support and have no intrusion of personal reason; and the tales of the saints and speech of the Molvīs that are in agreement with them are to be accepted and those that are not in agreement will not be held onto as support; and the custom that is not in agreement with them will be abandoned. [1]

The Words of Allāh and His Messenger are for Everybody

That which is popular amongst the common people [who say]:

“It is very difficult to understand the speech of Allāh and His Messenger. Immense knowledge is needed for this. We don’t have the ability to understand their speech, and to tread this path is the activity of great personalities, so what ability do we have to proceed in accordance with them? In fact, we have to suffice on such things.”

Such statements are very wrong because Allāh Saḥib [2] has said that the statements of the Qur’ān Majīd are very clear and straightforward. There is no difficulty in understanding them. Thus, He says in Sūrah Baqarah:

ولقد أنزلنا إليك آيات بينات وما يكفر بها إلا الفسقون

“Undoubtedly, we have sent to you clear verses, and only the lawless refuse them.”

Meaning, there is no difficulty in understanding these verses. However, applying them is difficult to the soul because the soul does not like obedience to anyone. Thus, those who are lawless refuse them. Immense knowledge is not needed to understand the speech of Allāh and His Messenger since the Messenger came to show the way to the unlearned, to make the ignorant understand and to teach the religion to the ignorant. Thus, Allāh (Exalted is He) says in Sūrah Jumu‘ah:

هو الذي بعث فى الأميين رسولا منهم يتلو عليهم آياته ويزكيهم ويعلمهم الكتب والحكمة وان كانوا من قبل لفي ضلال مبين

“He is the One who sent a Messenger to the unlettered from amongst them, reciting His verses onto them, purifying them and teaching them the Book and Wisdom. Undoubtedly they were in manifest error before.”

It is a great blessing of Allāh that He sent such a Messenger who made the uninformed informed, the impure pure, the unlearned learned, the foolish intelligent, the misguided guided. Whoever, having heard this verse, says that no one besides the learned can understand the speech of the Messenger, and no one besides the saints can follow his path, they have rejected this verse and have not valued this blessing. Rather it should be said that an ignorant person, having understood his speech, will become learned, and misguided folk, following his words, will become saints.

An example of this speech is like that of a great physician and a very ill person. So, someone says to this ill person: “Go to so-and-so physician, and get treatment from him.” The ill person responds: “Going to him and getting treatment from him is the job of very healthy people. How can I do so since I am very unwell?” This ill person is a great fool, and is rejecting the skill of this physician because a physician’s purpose is only to treat ill people. One who treats the healthy, and they are the ones who benefit from his medicine, and the sick gain no benefit, what kind of a physician is he?

In short, the greater the ignorance, the greater desire there should be to understand the word of Allāh and His Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace). And the one who is a greater sinner should try harder to follow the path of Allāh and His Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace). Everyone, the public and the elite, should study the speech of Allāh and His Messenger, understand them, follow them, and correct their īmān according to them.

Two Components to Īmān

Thus, it should be heard that īmān has two components:

  1. To recognise God as God
  2. To acknowledge the Messenger as Messenger

 

  • Recognising God as God is done in this way: that none is regarded as His partner (sharīk). And the Messenger is recognised as Messenger in this way: that besides his [path], no other path is adopted.

The first component is called Tawḥīd and its opposite Shirk. And the second component is called Ittibā‘ al-Sunnah and its opposite Bid‘ah.

Thus, everyone should strongly hold on to Tawḥīd and Ittibā‘ al-Sunnah and stay far-removed from Shirk and Bid‘ah since these two things cause an infraction to true īmān, while all [remaining] sins are beneath them because they cause an infraction to deeds. One who is very accomplished in Tawḥīd and Ittibā‘ al-Sunnah and is very far from Shirk and Bid‘ah and people acquire this quality by staying in his company, you should regard as your Pīr and Ustādh.

This is why several verses and ḥadīths which describe Tawḥīd and Itibbā al-Sunnah and [describe] the evils of Shrik and Bid‘ah will be compiled in this treatise. And the translation of the resultant meaning of these verses and ḥadīths will be made in simple Urdu so that that the public and elite can equally derive benefit from it. May whoever is granted Tawfīq by Allāh come onto the straight path, and become a means to the salvation of the one providing this explanation. Ᾱmīn, O God of all things.

The treatise’s name has been kept as Taqwiyat al-Īmān. Two chapters have been determined for it, the first chapter on the explanation of Tawḥīd and the evil of Shirk and the second chapter on Ittibā‘ al-Sunnah and the evil of Bi‘dah. [3]

Chapter One: On the Explanation of Tawḥīd and Shirk

It should be heard that Shirk is very widespread amongst people and true Tawḥīd rare. Most people don’t even know the meaning of Shirk and Tawḥīd and claim īmān while being engaged in Shirk. Thus, firstly the meaning of Shirk and Tawḥīd must be understood, so that the evil and good of them can then be realised from the Qur’ān and Ḥadīth.

Thus, it should be heard that most people call out to Pīrs, Messengers, Imāms, martyrs, angels and fairies at the time of difficulties and ask their desires of them and make vows to them. For fulfilling needs they make vows and offerings (nazr wa niyāz) to them. To remove afflictions, they attribute their children to them. Some keep their child’s name as ‘Abd al-Nabī (the Prophet’s slave), some as ‘Alī Bakhsh (a gift from ‘Alī), some as Pīr Bakhsh (a gift of Pīr), some as Madār Bakhsh (a gift of Madār) and some as Sālār Bakhsh (a gift of Sālār), some as Ghulām Muḥyiddīn (‘Abdul Qādir al-Jīlānī’s slave), some as Ghulām Mu‘īn al-Dīn (Mu‘īn al-Dīn Chishtī’s slave). For [their children] to live, some keep a lock of hair in someone’s name. Some tie a garland in someone’s name. Some put on a garment in someone’s name. Some put chains on in someone’s name. Some slaughter an animal in someone’s name. Some cry out [to someone] at the time of hardship. Some, in their speech, take oath on someone’s name.

In short, whatever Hindus do with their idols, these fake Muslims undertake with saints, prophets and imāms, angels and fairies, and make the claim of being Muslim. Subḥānallāh! This is the practice and this the claim. Allāh Ṣāḥib has spoken the truth in Sūrah Yūsuf:

وما يؤمن أكثرهم بالله إلا وهم مشركون

“Most of them do not believe in Allāh but do Shirk.”

That is, most people who make the claim of īmān are caught up in Shirk. Further, if a sensible person were to ask these people: “You claim īmān but do acts of Shirk, why do you combine these two [contradictory] paths?” They answer:

“We don’t do Shirk, but we are expressing our devotion towards prophets and saints. We would only be Mushrik if we regarded these prophets, saints, pirs and martyrs as equals to Allah. This is not what we believe. Rather, we regard them to be slaves of Allāh and to be His creatures. The power of discretion (taṣarruf) Allāh Himself gave to them. By His approval they apply their control over the universe. Calling on them is the very same as calling onto Allāh, asking help from them is the very same as asking Him. They are beloved to Allāh, so whatever they want they will do. They will intercede to Him on our behalf and are agents. By reaching them we reach Him and by calling them we draw near to Allāh. The more we obey them the closer we get to Allāh.” And they express [other] such superstitions.

The reason for such statements is that they have involved their intellects and abandoned the speech of God and the Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace), and they have fallen after false tales, and held as support wrong customs. If they were to investigate the speech of Allāh and the Messenger, they would come to realise that disbelieving folk would make such statements before the Messenger of God (Allāh bless him and grant him peace). Allāh Ṣāḥib did not accept a single one of these [excuses] and became angry at them and called them liars. Thus, Allāh Ṣāḥib says in Sūrah Yūnus:

ويعبدون من دون الله ما لا يضرهم ولا ينفعهم ويقولون هؤلاء شفعاءنا عند الله، قل: أتنبئون الله بما لا يعلم فى السموات ولا فى الأرض؟! سبحانه وتعالى عما يشركون

“They worship besides Allāh things that do not harm them nor benefit them and say: ‘These are our intercessors with Allāh.’ Say: ‘Do you inform Allāh of something He does not know in the heavens nor on the earth?’ Glorified is He and Exalted beyond what they ascribe to Him.”

Meaning, those that people call upon, Allāh has not given them any power, neither to give benefit nor to cause harm, and that which they assert, that these are our intercessors with Allāh, this was not communicated by Allāh, so are you more aware than Allāh to tell Him what He does not know?!

It is realised from this verse that in the whole of the heavens and earth, there is no such intercessor for anyone who to recognise [as divine] and call out to will cause any benefit or harm. In fact, the intercession that the prophets and saints have is within the control of Allāh. Nothing will happen from calling out to them or not calling out to them. It is also realised that one who worships another regarding him to be an intercessor, he too is a Mushrik.

Allāh Ṣāḥib says in Sūrah Zumar:

والذين اتخذوا من دونه أولياء، ما نعبدهم إلا ليقربونا إلى الله زلفى، إن الله يحكم بينهم فيما هم فيه يختلفون، إن الله لا يهدي من هو كاذب كفار

“And those who take protectors from apart from Him, [they say:] We do not worship them but for them to bring us near to Allāh closely. Certainly, Allāh will judge between them in that in which they differ. Certainly, Allāh does not guide the one who is lying, ungrateful.”

Meaning, abandoning that which is truth: that Allāh is nearest to a slave, and taking others as protectors; and not fulfilling the right nor giving thanks to Allāh’s favour, that He, purely by virtue of His grace, directly fulfils the desires of everyone and stalls all tribulations, but rather seeking them from others; and then in this inverted path, they seek nearness to Allāh! Thus, Allāh will never give them guidance, and from this path they will never acquire nearness to Him, but rather those who proceed on this path will become distant from Him.

It is realised from this verse that whoever considers another as protector [4], even if recognising that on account of asking him nearness is achieved to God, he too is Mushrik and is a liar and ungrateful to Allāh.

Allāh Ṣāḥib says in Sūrah Mu’minūn:

قل من بيده ملكوت كل شيء وهو يجير ولا يجار عليه إن كنتم تعلمون سيقولون لله قل فأنى تسحرون

“Say: Who is it that has the control of all things in his hand, and he grants protection and none can be granted protection against him, if you know? They will say: ‘Allāh.’ Say: ‘Then wherefrom your befuddlement?’”

Meaning, when the disbelievers are asked whose control is the entire world under, and against whom no protection can be made, they will say this is Allāh’s character. Thus, to then regard others [as divine] is pure befuddlement.

From this verse it is realised that Allāh Ṣāḥib has not given the power of control within the world, and no one can protect another, and it is also realised that at the time of the Prophet of God, the disbelievers too did not regard their idols to be equal to Allāh, but considered them His creation and slave, and they would not affirm power for them comparable to Him [5], but calling out to them, and making vows to them, and making offerings, and considering them their agents and intercessors, this was their disbelief and Shirk. Whoever treats another in this way, even if they regard him Allāh’s slave and creation, he and Abū Jahl are equal in Shirk.

It should be understood that Shirk does not depend on regarding someone equal to Allāh and comparable to Him, but rather the meaning of Shirk is that those things Allāh has made specific to Himself, and has specified as signs of His slaves’ servitude, doing them to another; like prostrating, slaughtering an animal on their name, taking a vow by them, and calling them in time of difficulty, and regarding them to be present and seeing at every place, and affirming the power of discretion for them. From these matters, Shirk is established, even if thereafter he regards them to be less than Allāh and to be His creation and slave. In this matter, there is no distinction between saints and prophets, and jinn and shayṭān, and spirits and phantoms. Meaning, with whomever one behaves in this way, he becomes a Mushrik, whether with the prophets or saints, or the pīrs and martyrs, or spirits and fairies. Thus, just as Allāh was angry with those who worshipped idols, He was just as angry with Jews and Christians, even though they would behave in this way with prophets and saints. Thus, it comes in Sūrah al-Barā’ah:

اتخذوا أحبارهم ورهبانهم أربابا من دون الله والمسيح بن مريم وما أمروا إلا ليعبدوا إلها واحدا، لا إله إلا هو، سبحانه عما يشركون

“They determine their scholars and dervishes as their owners apart from Allāh, as well as the Messiah son of Maryam, while they were commanded to worship One God, there is no God but He; He is Unique from those they make His partners.”

Meaning, they would regard Allāh to be the greater Owner but would determine other, smaller, owners apart from him – scholars and dervishes. They were not commanded to do this, and based on this Shirk was established on them. And He is unique, no one can be His partner. Thus, He states in Sūrah Maryam:

إن كل من فى السموات والأرض إلا آتى الرحمن عبدا، لقد أحصهم وعدهم عدا وكلهم آتيه يوم القيمة فردا

“All that are in the heavens and the eeath will come to the All-Merciful as slaves. He has control of them and counted them. Each of them will come to him alone on the Day of Resurreciton.”

Meaning, no angel or man maintains a position higher than slavehood, and are helpless under His sovereignty, maintaining no power, and He applies His discretion over each one, not putting any in the control of another, and in every affair each will be present before Him alone, without making any a protector or agent over another. There are many other such verses bearing such meaning. Whoever understands these two to four verses, will be vigilant of the matter of Shirk and Tawḥīd.

Now, this matter ought to be scrutinised, which matters has Allāh Ṣāḥib made specific to Himself, which no one can be made partner with Him in? These are many. But it is necessary to mention several matters and prove them from Qur’ān and Ḥadīth, so that people can understand all other matters from them.

[1] Shāh Ismā‘īl Dehlawī is not denouncing all adherence to scholarly and saintly guidance, but only that which goes against clear teachings of Qur’ān and Ḥadīth. Otherwise, very shortly after this, he instructs readers to take a scholar and saint as one’s Ustādh and Pīr, when they adhere strictly to the fundamental teachings of Qur’ān and Ḥadīth (of Tawḥīd and Ittibā‘ al-Sunnah).

[2] “In old Urdu the expression ‘Allāh Ṣāḥib said…’ would be used, but in new Urdu its use has been discarded. It appears that at that time, it would be treated as a term of veneration, but in the later vernacular it did not hold such veneration that it be used for Allāh Most Exalted, noble prophets or ṣaḥābah/tābi‘īn.” (Mawlānā Yūsuf Ludhyānwī) Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī was asked if the expression ‘Allāh Ṣāḥib’ is permissible; he replied: “It is permissible.” (Malfūẓāt A‘lā Ḥaḍrat, Da‘wat Islāmī, p. 327)

[3] Shāh Ismā‘īl did not include the section on Bid‘ah in this work.

[4] An independent protector, apart from Allāh.

[5] From this it is clear that Shāh Ismā‘īl al-Dehlawī believed that the disbelievers would affirm independent powers (bestowed by Allāh Himself) for the gods, albeit powers that were not on par with Allāh’s powers.

 

 


Opposition to Taqwiyat al-Īmān and the 1824/1240 Meeting at the Delhi Grand Masjid – Maulānā Nūrul Ḥasan Rāshid Kāndhlewī

December 10, 2019

Maulānā Nūrul Ḥasan Rāshid Kāndhlewī writes:

The very first to object [to Shāh Ismā‘īl Shahīd and Taqwiyat al-Īmān] was Maulānā Faḍl e Ḥaqq Khayrābādī. However, regarding this objection, and the subsequent discussions and events, there is a great blunder. Thus, it is felt to be necessary here to scrutinise and correct this very famous historical error, in fact misrepresentation.

It is commonly believed that:

“Ḥaḍrat Shāh Muḥammad Ismā‘īl’s greatest opponent was Maulānā Faḍl e Ḥaqq Khayrābādī. Maulānā Khayrābādī publicly opposed Shāh Shahīd. Khayrābādī even had debates or a debate with Shāh Shahīd. There was always argumentation between the two.”

However despite great popularity (and being repeated in almost fifty books), this is definitely an error and is baseless.

Ḥaḍrat Shāh Muḥammad Ismā‘īl (born 12 Rabī‘ al-Thānī, 1193 H) wrote his contentious work Radd al-Ishrāk in 1213 H, and Taqwiyat al-Īmān was written in Ramaḍān al-Mubārak 1233 (July 1818). Thereafter the movement of Sayyid Aḥmad Shahīd began. It is from this that the message and invitation of Taqwiyat al-Īmān became widespread, and spread throughout the entire country. Until the death of Ḥaḍrat Shāh ‘Abdul ‘Azīz no one sounded any opposition to Ḥaḍrat Shāh Shahīd and his ideas. 7 months after Shāh ‘Abdul ‘Azīz’s death (7 Shawwāl 1239, 6 June 1824), for the first time in 29 Rabī‘ al-Thānī 1240, several scholars of Delhi held a gathering in the Jāmi‘ Masjid of Delhi in which there was discussion and analysis of some of Shāh Muḥammad Ismā‘īl’s ideas.* Shāh Muḥammad Ismā‘īl and Maulānā Faḍl e Ḥaqq were both present on this occasion. In this gathering, Shāh Muḥammad Ismā‘īl announced: “Whoever has any objection or doubt over Taqwiyat al-Īmān, bring it before me and present it to me here so it can be answered.” However, Maulānā Khayrābādī remained completely silent. Maulānā Khayrābādī neither supported this disagreement, nor objected or raised any doubts concerning Taqwiyat al-Īmān.

6 months after the Jāmi‘ Masjid Delhi Dialogue (at the end of Shawwāl 1240, June 1825), Shāh Muḥammad Ismā‘īl had set off on the journey of Jihād from Delhi, which was Shāh Shahīd’s final journey from Delhi – and in fact, Hindustan. He never returned from this journey. However, all the way up to this time, no write-up was put together in refutation of or objection to Shāh Shahīd or Taqwiyat al-Īmān. Approximately 8 months after Shāh Muḥammad Ismā‘īl’s final departure from Delhi, in Jumāda ‘l-Ukhrā 1241 (Junuary/February 1826), Maulānā Faḍl e Ḥaqq wrote his first write-up or brief treatise in objecting to Taqwiyat al-Īmān: Taqrīr I‘tirāḍ bar Taqwiyat al-Īmān, in which, objecting to a simple passage of Taqwiyat al-Īmān**, he began a delicate academic and philosophical debate over Shafā‘ah and Imkān/Imtinā‘ al-Naẓīr.***

Sḥāh Muḥammad Ismā‘īl was staying at Sindh in company with the caravan of Mujāhidīn at the start of Dhu ‘l-Ḥijjah 1241 (July 1826), when in 10 Dhu ‘l-Ḥijjah he came across this treatise of Maulānā Khayrābādī. At this time, in that very sitting, Shāh Ismā‘īl took up his pen and wrote an answer. This is why Shāḥ Muḥammad Ismā‘īl’s work and answer is called Risālah Yak Rozī. Here Maulānā Khayrābādī’s treatise in refutation of Maulānā Shahīd was being publicised and there copies of the treatise Yak Rozī was shared widely.

Furthermore, the long effort and struggle, and mission which had started, against innovations and customs via the movement of Sayyid Aḥmad Shahīd, in support of it the scholars and students from the Waliyyullāh family put together a detailed fatwā or treatise. This treatise or fatwā was also widely read, and became very famous. Maulānā Khayrābādī did not dare to answer the treatise Yak Rozī, but Maulānā Khayrābādī wrote in response to this fatwā (apparently in Jumāda ‘l-Thānī, 1242, January 1827): Ibṭāl al-Ṭaghwā fī Taḥqīq al-Fatwā.

Ḥaḍrat Sayyid Aḥmad Barelwī and Shāh Muḥammad Ismā‘īl were martyred at Balakot in Dhu ‘l-Qa‘dah 1246 (8 May 1831), but until then Maulānā Khayrābādī did not write any other fatwā or any kind of write-up against Shāh Ismā‘īl. He also remained quiet after the martyrdom of Shāh Ismā‘īl. 24 to 25 years after this event, in 1270-73 (1855-57), Maulānā Hidāyat ‘Alī Jonpūrī, Maulānā Faḍl e Ḥaqq’s student, put together Imtinā‘ al-Naẓīr in response to another book by Maulānā Ḥaydar ‘Alī Tonkī, which has been attributed to Maulānā Faḍl e Ḥaqq, while it is not correct to attribute Imtinā‘ al-Naẓīr to Maulānā Khayrābādī. Imtinā‘ al-Naẓīr is Maulānā Jonpūrī’s book.

What actually happened is that the main person behind the commotion of inciting opposition to Shāḥ Muḥammad Ismā‘īl and Taqwiyat al-Īmān was Mawlawī Rajab ‘Alī of the Shī‘ah. Rajab ‘Alī was from the residents of Jagraon. He was appointed as an agent and spy for the English in Delhi. It is now fully confirmed and established that the person who caused most harm to the Mujāhidīn and Jihād movement in the 1857 movement of Delhi was this individual. He was the greatest traitor of that time and the greatest informant and agent of the English in Delhi. He is the one who blew up the Delhi arsenal; and he is the unfortunate one who set the trap for arresting Bahādur Shāh Ẓafar; and used Mirzā Ilāhī Bakhsh; and it was also his handiwork to raise commotion in opposition to Ḥaḍrat Shāh Muḥammad Ismā‘īl and Taqwiyat al-Īmān, and cause scholars of Delhi and of other sides to debate, and take this matter further. Although Maulānā Faḍl e Ḥaqq Khayrābādī had disagreement over Shāh Muḥammad Ismā‘īl’s ideas, he never came out into the field for this argumentation. [1]

[1] For historical investigation and academic proofs of all the abovementioned events, please await the writer’s Taqwiyat al-Īmān aur Shāh Muḥammad Ismā‘īl ke Khilāf barpa Shaurash Tārīkh wa Ḥaqīqat Āīneh Mein (The Commoition of Inciting Opposition to Shāḥ Muḥammad Ismā‘īl and Taqwiyat al-Īmān in Light of History and Reality), half of which or a little less has already been published in 15 issues of al-Furqān Lucknow’s journal (from July 1991 to December 1993).

(Ustāzul Kull Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Mamlūk al-‘Alī Nānotwī, p206-8)

* The main issue was over referring to practices like kissing the grave within the context of acts of shirk. Shāh Ismā‘īl Shahīd clarified that he did not mean to refer to such actions as major shirk, but as acts associated with shirk. Shortly after this meeting, in Jumāda ‘l-Ūlā of 1240, he wrote a fatwā clarifying exactly this (copies of which are available). A detailed report of the 1824 meeting (who was in attendance and the discussion that ensued) was written in Farsi at the time, a manuscript of which is available.

** The simple passage is as follows: “It is the nature of this King of Kings that in a single moment, had He so wished with one command of ‘Kun’, He would create thousands of prophets, saints, jinn and angels equal to Jibra’īl, upon him peace, and Muḥammad, Allāh bless him and grant him peace; and would turn the whole universe from the throne to the earth upside down and put another creation in its place.” (Taqwiyat al-Īmān, p44) It was said in the context of describing a mistaken conception of Shafā‘ah, and how Allāh has no need for His creation.

*** Muftī Ṣadr al-Dīn al-Dehlawī (1790 – 1868), an expert in the philosophical and rational sciences, wrote a treatise on Imkān al-Naẓīr in favour of Shāh Ismā‘īl Shahīd’s view and against Maulānā Faḍl e Ḥaqq Khayrābādī’s. This treatise was printed in the lifetime of Muftī Ṣadr al-Dīn al-Dehlawī, and a manuscript of it is also available. This is described in the following passage from a work of Maulānā Nūrul Ḥasan Kāndhlewī:

Mawlānā Mamlūk al-‘Alī Nānotwī (1789 – 1851), who had studied one lesson with Shāh ‘Abdul ‘Azīz Dehlawī, and learnt from his leading students, Mawlānā Rashīd al-Dīn Khān Kashmīrī Dehlawī & Muftī Ilāhī Bakhsh Kāndhlewī, was the greatest of the scholars of Delhi in his time from the Waliyyullāh tradition. He endorsed a treatise defending Shāh Ismā‘īl Shahīd on the topic of Shafā‘ah (intercession). The manuscript of this treatise is preserved, and described in Mawlānā Nūrul Ḥasan Kānhdlewī’s detailed biography of Mawlānā Mamlūk al-‘Alī. (Ustāzul Kull Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Mamlūk al-‘Alī Nānotwī, p205-6)


Imam al-Tahawi refutes Barelwi Beliefs of Mukhtar e Kull and ‘Ilm Waqt al-Sa‘ah for the Prophet

December 6, 2019

Barelwis hold the belief that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) owns the whole creation and has full powers of discretion therein. This is articulated most clearly in one of their foundational reference works, Bahār e Sharī‘at, authored by Amjad ‘Alī A‘ẓamī (1882 – 1948), Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s close disciple and successor. He wrote while describing “true Islāmic beliefs” (this being the 50th belief regarding nubuwwah):

“Ḥuḍūr Aqdas (Allāh bless him and give him peace) is the absolute deputy of Allah ‘azza wa jall. The entire universe has been put under the control (taṣarruf) of Ḥuḍūr. He may do as he desires, give to whomsoever he wishes, take from anyone whatever he desires. None in the universe can turn back his rulings. The entire universe is under his governance and he is under the authority of none but Allāh. He is the owner (mālik) of all humans. Anyone who does not accept him to be his owner (mālik) remains devoid of the sweetness of the Sunnah. All the earth is his property. The entire paradise is his estate. The kingdom of earth and the sky are under Ḥuḍūr’s command. The keys to paradise and hell have been given to him in his holy hand. Sustenance, goodness and other types of blessings are distributed from his noble office. This world and the hereafter are a portion of his blessings. The rulings of Sharī‘ah have been delegated to his authority. He may make impermissible (ḥarām) for anyone whatever he decides. Similarly, he may make permissible (ḥalāl) whatever he wishes and exempt whatever obligation (farḍ) he desires.” (Bahār e Sharī‘at, p. 42-3)

Imām al-Ṭaḥāwī refutes this false belief in Sharḥ Ma‘ānī al-Āthār:

فإن قال قائل: إن النبي صلى الله عليه وعلى آله وسلم كان أولى بكل مؤمن من نفسه. قيل له: صدقت , هو أولى به من نفسه , يطيعه في أكثر مما يطيع فيه نفسه , فأما أن يكون هو أولى به من نفسه في أن يعقد عليه عقدا بغير أمره , من بيع , أو نكاح , أو غير ذلك فلا , وإنما كان سبيله في ذلك صلى الله عليه وعلى آله وسلم كسبيل الحكام من بعده

“If someone says the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) is nearer to every believer than his own self, it will be said in response to him: you are right, he is closer to him than his own self, so he follows him more than what he follows his own self. But as for him being closer to him than his own self in that he engages in a transaction for him without his permission, whether a sale, marriage or something else, then no. His rule in that was like the rulers after him.” (Sharḥ Ma‘ānī al-Āthār, 3:12)

In other words, the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) did not have the power to sell someone else’s items without his permission or give him in marriage without his permission. If the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) owned everything and everyone, as Barelwis believe, and had full powers of discretion, he would have been able to do this.

Of course, the above Barelwi claim does not require such specific refutations to see that it is absurd, but it is an example of another key Hanafi imam that has clearly refuted their false beliefs, proving once again that their claim to Hanafiyyat (and Sunniyyat) is a farce. For other examples, see:

https://barelwism.wordpress.com/2015/03/14/the-misguidance-of-the-barelwis/

https://barelwism.wordpress.com/2018/12/03/ilmul-ghayb-and-the-kufr-of-barelwis/

https://barelwism.wordpress.com/2019/01/06/the-blasphemy-and-kufr-of-a%E1%B8%A5mad-ri%E1%B8%8Da-khan-barelwi-according-to-barelwi-standards/

Another core Barelwi belief is that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) was given knowledge of the final hour. Imām al-Ṭaḥāwī says:

لما سألوه عن ذلك سألوه عما قد أخفى الله عنه حقيقته

“When they [i.e. the people] asked him about [the timing of the final hour], they asked him about something the reality of which Allāh had hidden from him.” (Sharḥ Mushkil al-Āthār, 1:416)


Mufti Taqi Usmani’s Critical Review of Mafahim Yajibu an Tusahhah

October 19, 2019

In a recently published collection of Muftī Taqī al-‘Uthmānī’s Arabic articles, under the title Maqālāt al-‘Uthmānī, an article reviewing Shaykh Muḥammad ‘Alawī al-Mālikī’s Mafāhīm Yajibu an Tuṣaḥḥaḥ has been included. The article was originally written in the 1980s and then published in the al-Balāgh journal with an explanatory note in the mid-1990s. (The review article is translated below.)

As an introduction to the review, Muftī Taqī al-‘Uthmānī writes:

The book Mafāhīm Yajibu an Tuṣaḥḥaḥ by Shaykh Muḥammad al-‘Alawī al-Mālikī has become a subject of debate and disagreement in some academic circles at the present time. The debate became more intense and argumentations increased upon the publication of its Urdu translation. My endorsement was something of an evidence and argument for some and a cause of doubts and misunderstandings for others. Thus, I felt it best to publish it prefaced with this explanatory introduction to clarify the matter and remove the veil from the reality of the issue.

It is known that the author of this book Shaykh Muḥammad al-‘Alawī al-Mālikī is the son of Shaykh Sayyid al-‘Alawī, who was from the notables amongst the great scholars of Makkah al-Mukarramah. He had connections and links with the scholars of India and Pakistan, amongst whom were my respected father Muftī Muḥammad Shafī‘ and Shaykh Muḥammad Yūsuf al-Bannūrī (Allāh have mercy on them). Because of these links, his son spent some time in Pakistan acquiring the religious sciences at the hands of these scholars. Thus, studying with both my respected father and Shaykh al-Bannūrī (Allāh have mercy on them) was decreed for him. In that period, some meetings and visits occurred between myself and him which had ended with his return to Saudi Arabia, after which there was no communication between us for an extended period.

Some years ago, I unexpectedly received a phone call from him in which he informed me that he is coming to Karachi, on the route to returning to Saudi Arabic from Indonesia, only to visit me for an important task of his. He came to the Dār al-‘Ulūm in the company of the respected Shaykh ‘Abd al-Ḥafīẓ al-Makkī (Allāh preserve him), and he informed me that he wrote a book called Mafāhīm Yajibu an Tuṣaḥḥaḥ to clarify and verify serious issues that had become areas of harshness and extremism amongst some scholars and that he requested from me and my respected brother Muftī Muḥammad Rafī‘ al-‘Uthmānī (Allāh preserve him) a written endorsement of it.

It happened that I was at that time very busy, and I had plans to travel the next day. I apologised to him explaining that these obligations do not allow me to read it such that I can fulfil its due in giving an endorsement. He presented to me the endorsements of some Arab and Pakistani scholars certifying the book and praising it greatly. He asked me to do one of two things, explaining that doing either of them will not take up much time: signing one of those write-ups, or writing down some words to certify the book and agreeing with it based on those endorsements. I responded by apologising a second time, saying that I respect and revere these scholars, but endorsement is a trust and it is not allowed for me to express a positive opinion of the book without reading it and having knowledge of its contents. He agreed to this and insisted that I spare some time to take a glance at the book and then endorse it. In response to his insistence, I studied his important discussions despite the opportunities to doing so being limited. I discovered in it correct matters that deserve praise and support, just as some criticisms of it surfaced to me. I called him by phone informing him that I cannot endorse the book and certify it completely since some criticisms and objections to it surfaced to me while studying it. He asked me to include those criticisms in my endorsement. I said this would only be possible if you include my endorsement in its entirety in your book without any cutting or editing. He agreed to this. So I wrote an article in which I tried to explain both dimensions of the book: its positives and the criticisms on it. My respected brother Shaykh Muftī Muḥammad Rafī al-‘Uthmānī studied those discussions himself and held the same opinion as myself on the book and signed the same [review] article. We sent over the article to the respected author. I remained waiting for it to be published in the next edition of his book, but he, as far as I know, did not publish it yet despite its continuous publication.

It is worth mentioning that I wrote this endorsement quickly and while having many obligations and sufficed in it with brief pointers, and it was not my intent at that point to comment on every part of the book. Thus, it would not be farfetched that there are other places of the book that can be critiqued or objected to besides what I have mentioned in this article. Allāh (Glorified is He) gives direction.

Muḥammad Taqī al-‘Uthmānī

(Maqālāt al-‘Uthmānī, p. 76-8)

A translation of the review is as follows:

All praise belongs to Allāh, Lord of the Worlds, and blessings and peace be upon our leader and our master Muḥammad, the trustworthy prophet, and on his progeny and all his companions, and on all who follow them in excellence to the Day of Recompense.

To proceed:

The noble brother, the respected scholar, the researcher, Shaykh Sayyid Muḥammad al-‘Alawī al-Mālikī (Allāh preserve him and maintain him) requested from us that I offer to him my opinion on his book Mafāhīm Yajibu an Tuṣaḥḥaḥ. This was only because of his humbleness before Allāh and his love for knowledge and its seekers and his search for truth and accuracy as he is from a learned and noble family, more esteemed than being in need of praise from the likes of us for their works. His father (Allāh have mercy on him) is recognised in the Islāmic world for his knowledge, virtue, scrupulousness and piety. And indeed he, by Allāh’s grace, is an excellent successor of an excellent predecessor. However, it is a privilege for us to write these lines in obedience to his command, and hoping for his supplications, and expressing the happiness and pleasure that overcame us from most of his discussions, and what occurred to us of criticisms in some other parts.

The topics that the author discussed in this book are dangerous topics, in which excess and negligence have appeared [amongst the Muslims] that has divided the word of the Muslims and has caused disunity and strife amongst them from which every believing heart would be hurt. Rarely would it be found that someone assesses these issues with balance and justice, and puts everything in its place, walking the path of fairness, and avoiding excess and negligence.

Many such issues are secondary, theoretical matters and not the basis of faith, and not a criterion between Islām and disbelief. On the contrary, some of them will not be questioned about in the grave nor at the resurrection nor the reckoning, and if a man were not to know of them for his entire life, that will not diminish his religion and faith the weight of a mustard seed – for example, the reality and nature of the intermediary life, and other such purely theoretical and philosophical matters. However, it is very unfortunate that when discussion and argumentation on these matters increased, these issues came to be like the primary objectives of religion or from the foundational creeds of Islām. Hence, some people displayed extremism in such matters, accusing those who oppose their view of disbelief, polytheism and deviance. This narrow mindset is often forgiving of the destructive currents attacking the foundations of Islām, but is avid over these secondary theoretical matters more than its avidness in tackling pure apostasy, absolute lawlessness, open profligacy and abominations imported from the disbelievers and outsiders.

Our brother, ‘Allāmah Sayyid Muḥammad al-‘Alawi al-Maliki (Allāh protect him), spoke regarding this narrow mentality with guided speech, and established that those who believe in what is necessarily known to be from religion may not be anathematised because of his preference of some views on which there are disagreements amongst the scholars of Islām, both past and present.

Then he spoke about some of these secondary issues on which disagreement occurred amongst the Muslims, and some of them attacked others because of them with declarations of disbelief and deviance, like the issue of tawassul in supplication, and travelling to visit the grave of the Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace), and tabarruk (taking blessings) from the relics of the prophets and companions and pious, and the reality of prophethood, humanity and the intermediary life. The position that he preferred in these matters is a safe position supported by bright proofs from the Book and Sunnah and the actions of the companions and successors and pious predecessors. He proved with clear proofs that one who allows tawassul in supplication and tabarruk from the relics of the prophets and pious or he travels to visit the grave of the Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) and believes it is from the greatest of rewards, or believes in the life of the prophets in the graves with an intermediary life which exceeds the intermediary life attained by others, he has not acquired any sin, let alone having committed polytheism or disbelief, since all of these are established by evidences of the Qur’ān and Sunnah and the inherited practice of the pious predecessors and the sayings of the majority of the firmly grounded scholars in every age.

Similarly, the author spoke about the Ash‘arīs and their method of interpreting the divine attributes. There is no doubt that the safest position in this is what the ḥadīth-masters have expressed in their statement: “Pass them over without how,” but figurative interpretation is an approach reached by the ijtihād of the Ash‘arīs to preserve Allāh’s transcendence and oppose assimilation, and nothing led them to this but their strong adherence to the belief of tawḥīd and their avoidance of any trace of corporealism, and many of the great scholars of the past chose this path, whose excellence none but an ignoramus or obstinate person will dispute. So how is it possible to accuse the Ash‘arīs of disbelief and deviance? And expel them from the fold of Ahl al-Sunnah and put them in the category of the Mu‘tazila and Jahmiyya?! Allāh protect us from this!

How wonderful is what our brother, the author, said in this respect: “Is it not enough for the opponent to say that they (Allāh have mercy on them) did ijtihād and erred in the interpretation of the attributes, and it would have been better if they did not tread this path, instead of accusing them of deviance and becoming annoyed at those who consider them from the Ahl al-Sunnah?” (p.39)

This methodology which the author adopted in these matters is a balanced methodology which if the Muslims chose in their secondary disagreements with complete openness of heart, many of the knots would be untied and many of the efforts which the enemies are undertaking to divide Muslims will fail.

Now, it is necessary to mention the criticisms which came to our minds when reading this book. This stems only from fulfilling the obligation of love and goodwill for the sake of Allāh, and obedience to the command of the author himself. They are as follows:

    1. The topics which the author (Allāh preserve him) discussed are dangerous topics, which have become very sensitive, and the excess and negligence that have occurred in them have occurred, and renovating one part may spoil another part, and focusing on one aspect may sacrifice the right of another aspect. So, it is necessary on one speaking about these issues to take extreme precaution, and keep in mind both sides, and be on guard that anybody misuse his words for falsehood.

Since this book is for the purpose of refuting the extremism of anathematising the Muslims and accusing them of polytheism due to venerating and loving the noble Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) and the saints and pious, it is natural that there will not be a detailed refutation of those who are extreme in their veneration to such a degree of extremism that is prohibited in the Book and Sunnah and by the scholars of the Sharī‘ah in every age and place, but despite this, it is necessary, as far as I am concerned, in view of the seriousness of the topic, that this side is also touched on, even if briefly, so that those who transgress the bounds in this veneration to what, at the very least, leads to suspecting polytheism is refuted.

    1. We found in some parts of the book brevity in some important issues which may be misunderstood by some people, so they may argue from that something that was not originally meant, and exploit it to support some false beliefs. From them is the issue of ‘ilm al-ghayb as the author (Allāh preserve him) quickly passed over it and mentioned that ‘ilm al-ghayb is for Allāh (Glorified and Exalted is He) and then said after this: “It is established that Allāh Most High taught His Prophet from the ghayb what He taught him, and gave him what he gave him.” (p.91) This speech is true, and is meant the plentiful news of the ghayb which Allāh (Glorified and Exalted is He) revealed to His Noble Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace). However, some people don’t stop at attributing these news to him (Allāh bless him and grant him peace), but say clearly that he (upon him peace) is knower of the ghayb with an exhaustive knowledge of all that was and will be to the establishment of the Hour, so we fear that this general statement will leave the possibility of this false interpretation which the scholars of Ahl al-Sunnah have been refuting for a long time.
    1. Similarly the author said about our Noble Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) that “he is alive in the two abodes, with constant attention towards his ummah, freely-disposing by Allāh’s will in their affairs, aware of their conditions, the blessings of blessers from his ummah being shown to him and their salutations being conveyed to him despite their abundance.” It is clear he does not mean by disposition complete absolute disposition, nor by him being aware of their conditions encompassing knowledge of all particulars, as this is baseless and not from the beliefs of Ahl al-Sunnah. He only intended some particular activities that are established specifically, as is clear from his giving the example of blessings and peace being shown to him and his response to them. But we fear that this expression suggests the opposite of this intent, and will be misused by some extremists from the other side.
    1. The author did brilliantly as we previously indicated in his precaution in the matter of anathematisation of a Muslim, so a Muslim is not be anathematised as long as there is a sound interpretation for his speech or an interpretation that does not necessitate anathematisation at the least. However, anathematisation is one thing and preventing a person from using baseless words or suggestive words is another thing. Precaution in anathematising is withholding from it as long as there is an escape from it, but precaution in the second matter is preventing the likes of these words absolutely.

From this is the statement of the author: “The speaker saying ‘O Prophet of Allāh cure me and repay my debt,’ if it were supposed that one said this, he only meant: ‘Intercede for my cure and pray for the repayment of my debt and turn to Allāh in my affair.’ Thus, they are not asking from him except what Allāh has made them capable of and given them control over of supplication and intercession…and thus such an attribution in the speech of people is from the [rhetorical style of] majāz ‘aqlī (metaphor).” (p.95) This is a good interpretation to prevent anathematisation which is from the aspect of holding a good opinion of believers. However, good opinion only arises in one who does not deny this interpretation of his speech. As for the one who does not himself approve of this interpretation as is a reality in some people as far as I am aware, how can his speech be interpreted in a way he himself does not approve?

Furthermore, although such interpretation is sufficient in preventing anathematisation of the speaker, should such words be encouraged? Never! Rather, this should be forbidden to prevent ambiguity and resemblance [with polytheism] at the very least, as the Messenger of Allāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) forbade the word “my slave” for a bondman due to it being suggestive [of polytheism]. Therefore, it is necessary according to me for those who seek interpretations for these speakers to state clearly that it is forbidden so that this interpretation does not encourage them to use such suggestive words, for indeed “the one who grazes around the borders, almost falls in it”. The same is said about tawassul in the form of a vocation, and of the unrestricted usage of “reliever of distresses” (mufarrij al-kurubāt) and “fulfiller of needs” (qāḍī al-ḥājāt) for other than Allāh (Glorified and Exalted is He).

    1. The author mentioned that bid‘ah divides into two categories: good and evil, disapproving of the latter and not the first. This division is correct with respect to the linguistic meaning of the word bid‘ah, and in this sense, it was used by al-Fārūq al-A‘ẓam when he said : “What a brilliant bid‘ah this is!” As for bid‘ah in its technical sense, it is only evil, and in this sense Allāh’s Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) said: “Every bid‘ah is misguidance” as narrated by Muslim.
    1. The author (Allāh preserve him) was successful in describing the prophetic distinctions when he said: “Although the prophets are human beings who eat and drink…and are subject to the temporary states which overcome human beings of weakness, old age and death, but they are distinguished by special characteristics and are characterised by lofty and magnificent attributes which are with respect to them from the most necessary of necessities…” (p.127)

Then he mentioned a number of these special characteristics, especially the special characteristics of the Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace), so no one can claim that he (upon him blessing and peace) is equal to other than him in attributes and states – protection is from Allāh! The truth is that his (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) special characteristics are beyond what we are able to comprehend, but we believe that the Messenger of Allāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) is more esteemed than us needing [to use] weak narrations to establish his distinctions, for his distinctions that are established in the Qur’ān and sound Sunnah are more in number, higher in status and stronger in affecting the hearts than the distinctions that are mentioned in some weak narrations like what is narrated that he had no shadow in the sunlight or moonlight, as it is a weak narration according the majority of the scholars and ḥadīth-masters.

    1. The author (Allāh protect him) said: “Gathering for the purpose of the noble prophetic birth is nothing but a customary practice, and is not at all part of worship, and this is what we believe and take as our religion before Allāh Most High.” Then he said: “We announce that specifying one night besides another for this gathering is the greatest estrangement from the Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace).”

There is no doubt that commemorating the Noble Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) and describing his biography is from the greatest of blessings and the most virtuous of fortunes when it is not restricted to a day or date, nor is the belief of worship associated with it in gathering on a particular day in a particular form. Thus, gathering to commemorate the Messenger of Allāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) with these conditions is in essence permissible, not deserving of condemnation or blame.

However, there is another approach adopted by many verifying and scrupulous scholars, which is that this gathering, although permissible in itself, many people believe it is from the objective acts of worship or from the religious obligations, and they specify for it specific days, along with what some of them mix with it of false beliefs and impermissible practices. Moreover, it is difficult for the general people to observe the subtle differences between custom and worship. Hence, if these scholars, by observing these matters, the importance of which cannot be denied, chose to prevent such gatherings, observing the principle of “blocking the means,” and recognising that repelling harms is favoured over attaining benefit, then they are holding firm to proofs of the Sharī‘ah, and thus do not deserve condemnation or blame. The course in these matters is like the course in matters which are open to differences in ijtihād, every man encouraging and giving fatwā according to what he believes to be true, and seeks Allāh’s reward according to it, and at the same time not shooting the arrows of criticism at another scholar who holds an opposing view.

In sum, the respected scholar, the researcher, Sayyid Muḥammad ‘Alawi al-Maliki (Allāh Almighty preserve him and benefit by him Islām and the Muslims) despite some of these criticisms, has assessed in this book many issues which were misunderstood by some people, and offered their correct understandings and their proofs from the Book and Sunnah. I wish that his book is studied with the eye of fairness and the spirit of mutual understanding, not with the objective of argumentation and quarrelling. I ask Allāh Most High to enable us and all Muslims to stand with justice as witnesses to Allāh even against ourselves. Verily, He Most High is Near, Ever-Responding to callers. May Allāh Most High bless our master and our leader, Muḥammad, and his progeny and all his companions.

Muḥammad Taqī al-‘Uthmāni, servant of the students of Dar al-‘Ulūm Karāchī

Muftī Muḥammad Rafī‘ al-‘Uthmāni, headmaster of Dar al-‘Ulūm Karāchī

(Maqālāt al-‘Uthmānī, p. 79-86)


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)