Taqwiyat al-Īmān: Shirk is of Varying Degrees

February 21, 2019

Under the commentary of the verse, “Allāh does not forgive anything being associated with Him but He forgives whoever He wills for anything other than that” (4:116), Shāh Ismā‘īl Shahīd explains that all sins apart from shirk are pardonable but the crime of shirk is unpardonable. Then he says:

Further, if it is shirk of the highest order from which a person becomes a disbeliever, his punishment* will be an eternity in hell – he will never come out of it, nor will he experience any comfort in it. The shirk that is of a lesser order, the punishment that is determined for it with Allāh will be received.** The remaining sins, the punishments that are determined for them with Allāh are dependent on Allāh’s choice: if He wills He will mete it out and if He wills He will pardon. (Taqwiyat al-Īmān, p. 19)

Thus in Taqwiyat al-Imān itself, Shāh Ismā‘īl recognises that some shirk will take a person out of Islām and some shirk will not. It is in this backdrop that his general statements on this subject need to be understood.

* Here the discussion is over a person who commits these crimes (major shirk, minor shirk, or all other sins) and dies without having repented from them. If a person sincerely repents from them before death, he will not be taken to task for them.

** It should be noted that there is disagreement on this question, over whether lesser shirk will be treated like greater shirk and thus remain unpardonable (but unlike greater shirk not necessitate an eternity in hell) or will be treated like all other sins (major or minor) and thus be subject to Allāh’s will.


Taqwiyat al-Īmān: Rasūlullāh is Master of the World and the Best of Creation

February 18, 2019

Explaining the meaning of sayyid (master), Shāh Ismā‘īl Shaḥid (1779 – 1831) writes in Taqwiyat al-Īmān:

Now, it should be heard that the term “master” (sayyid) has two meanings. One is that he is himself owner and free-acting and is not subject to anyone; he can do whatever he wants of himself, just like a king apparently [does]. Such a thing is the character of Allāh alone. There is no “master” in this meaning besides Him.

The second is that while being a subject, having a distinction above other subjects, in that the original command of the Commander comes first to him and from conversing with him, it reaches others, like the Choudhry of every work and the zamindar of every village.

In this sense, every prophet is master of his Ummah, and every Imām of the people of his time, and every Mujtahid of his followers, and every saint of his Murīds, and every ‘Ālim of his students, in that these seniors first establish Allāh’s command themselves and then teach it to their juniors thereafter.

Thus, in this manner, our Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) is the master of all the world since in Allāh’s view his position is the highest of all, and he is the most practising of Allāh’s commands, and everyone is dependent on him in learning Allāh’s path. In this meaning, referring to him as the master of all the world is no problem. In fact, he must be regarded as such.

In terms of the first meaning, they are not to be regarded as master of even an ant, because of their own, they cannot exercise control over even an ant. (Taqwiyat al-Īmān, p. 92-3)

According to Barelwī mythology, Taqwiyat al-Īmān brings down the status of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) and reflects Wahhābī teaching. This is one passage that clearly contradicts this belief.


Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s Sloppy Research

February 10, 2019

Aḥmad Riḍā Khān states in his treatise al-Kawkabat al-Shihābiyyah:

“Wahhābīs are attributed to ‘Abd al-Wahhāb Najdī. Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb was their first teacher. He wrote Kitāb al-Tawḥīd, in which he treated all Muslims apart from his vile group as open Mushriks…Taqwiyat al-Īmān is a translation of this very Kitāb al-Tawḥīd.” (Fatāwā Riḍawiyyāh, Riḍā Foundation, 15:235)

In Sayf al-Jabbār, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s predecessor, Fāḍl al-Rasūl Badāyūnī, claimed Taqwiyat al-Īman was akin to a commentary of Kitāb al-Tawḥīd.

The reality is Taqwiyat al-Īman and Kitāb al-Tawḥīd are two very different books. Refuting these preposterous claims of Badāyūnī and Barelwī, Mawlānā Manẓūr Nu‘mānī highlights and explains the “massive difference in the nature” (naw‘iyyat mein boht barā farq) of the two works. (For more detail, see: Shaykh Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb aur Hindūstān Ke ‘Ulamā’ e Ḥaqq, p. 66-8)

This is thus either an example of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s sloppy research or a further example of his deception and lies.


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.


Mufti Abdul Ghani Patialvi’s al-Junnah li Ahlissunnah

December 23, 2018

Mufti Abdul Ghani Patialvi, who was the headmaster at one of the famous Deobandi Madaris located in Delhi, Madrasa Aminia (where Mufti Kifayatullah Dehlawi famously taught), wrote a work against Barelwis called al-Junna li Ahlissunnah, available here:

https://ia600601.us.archive.org/18/items/Al-Junnah-Li-Ahlus-Sunnah/Al-Junnah-Li-Ahlus-Sunnah-Compressed.pdf

The title was suggested by Mawlana Ashraf Ali Thanawi, who endorsed the book. It was also endorsed by Mufti Kifayatullah Dehlawi.

The work consists of three separate books/chapters written in the 1920s and 1930s. The first is a defence of Shah Isma’il Shahid; the second is a response to Ahmad Rida Khan’s allegations against the four Akabir; and the third is on the topic of innovation (bid’ah). There is also a lengthy introduction which refutes the claim that Shah Isma’il Shahid was influenced by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, a “foreign person, whose integrity and knowledge is unknown.” (al-Junnah, p. 14) Indeed, all of Shah Isma’il’s positions that supposedly reflect influence by Wahhabis are found explicitly in the writings of his predecessors (ibid.), like Shah Waliullah Dehlawi, Shah Abdul Aziz Dehlawi and Qadi Thanaullah Panipati. Extensive quotes from these scholars and others are presented to show that they were Shah Isma’il’s sources, not Wahhabis. A detailed description is also provided on the nature of the beliefs of the common and ignorant Muslims that Shah Isma’il was addressing. Shah Isma’il’s liberal usage of the term “shirk” is also discussed – that he sometimes meant true shirk and sometimes an action associated with mushrikun though not true shirk.


Abaqat of Shah Isma’il Shahid – Arabic

October 16, 2018

Several posts were written previously refuting allegations against Shah Isma’il Shahid of having Wahhabi tendencies, as well as other allegations made against him.

See, for example:

https://barelwism.wordpress.com/2016/12/01/shah-ismail-and-negating-direction-for-allah/

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/2017/02/21/mawlana-madani-on-the-accusation-that-sayyid-a%E1%B8%A5mad-shahid-was-wahhabi/

https://barelwism.wordpress.com/2015/10/30/%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%A1%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B4%D9%8A%D8%AE-%D8%A5%D8%B3%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B9%D9%8A%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AF%D9%87%D9%84%D9%88%D9%8A-%D9%85%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%82%D9%88%D9%84-%D8%A8/

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

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

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

In the first of these refutations, a reference was made to the Urdu translation of Shah Isma’il’s work, ‘Abaqat, in which he negated the belief that Allah (SWT) has a direction. The original Arabic of Abaqat has now been made available on PDF:

https://ia801506.us.archive.org/34/items/Abaqaat-Arabic/Abaqaat-Arabic.pdf

The passages referred to in the post are found in this Arabic edition as follows:

ولا يشك عاقل من الملئين  وغيرهم في أن الوجود الإمكاني إذا قيس في جنب الوجود الواجبي يصير هباء منثورا إذ كل شيء هالك إلا وجهه، وإن الواجب يتصرف فى الممكن بمحض العلم والإرادة لا بالمباشرة والآلات، وإنه إن شاء أبطل جوهر العالم وأفناه إفناء مطلقا بحيث يصير معدوما مطلقا، وإنه لا يتصف بالنسبة إلى الممكنات  بكونه في جهة ما ولا بالقرب والبعد المكانيين ولا بالاتصال والانفصال، ولا يتصور بينهما مسافة لا متناهية ولا غير متناهية

“No sane person from the two groups or others will doubt that the possible existent when compared to the Necessary Existent is like scattered dust, since everything will perish besides His countenance; and that the Necessary Being intervenes in the possible existence by mere knowledge and will not by physical interaction and instruments; and that if He wanted He would eradicate the essence of the universe and make it disappear such that it becomes completely nonexistent; and that He is not characterised as being, in relation to possible existents, in a particular direction, nor as being distant or near in terms of place, nor as being physically joined or separated; nor is a distance between them, whether finite or infinite, conceivable.” (Abaqat, p. 35)

وبه ثبت للاهوت أنه موجود فى الخارج ليس في جهة ولا مكان ولا متصل ولا منفصل منزه عن تجدد الصفات كالعلم والإرادات دائم العناية والتأثير فى العالم

“Thus it is established that the Divine exists external [to the mind], not in a direction, nor place, nor physically joined or separated…” (Abaqat, p. 102)

In ‘Abaqat, Shah Isma’il mentions the Ash’aris and Maturidis as being from the Ahl al-Haqq (adherents of truth). He writes:

قد وقع بين كل فن تفرق واختلاف، وهو على نحوين، تفرق بين المبطلين والمحقين كالتفرق بين فقهاء الشيعة و أهل السنة والأشاعرة والمعتزلة  أو الوجودية الملاحدة والوجودية العرفاء أو بين من يستعين في مراقاباته بالخمور والمسكرات  وبين من يستعين فيها بالأذكار والصلاة أو بين من يعالج عجب القلب بترك شعائر الشرع وبين من يعالجه بملاحظة المعاصي أو القصور فى الطاعات وهكذا فقس، فالحكم في مثل هذا التفرق وجوب تصويب أحد الجانبين وتخطئة الآخر كذلك، وتفرق بين أهل الحق كالتفرق بين الأئمة الأربعة أو بين الأشعرية والماتريدية أو بين الوجودية الورائية والشهودية الظلية أو بين أهل الطرق، فالحكم فيه أن كل واحد منهم في أكثر المسائل على طريق حق، ولكل واحد هو موليها فاستبقوا الخيرات، فمن اتبع واحدا منهم فاز بالمقصود

“Divergence and disagreement has occurred in every field. It is of two kinds. One is divergence between those who are wrong and those who are right, like the divergence between jurists of the Shi’ah and of Ahl al-Sunnah; and between Ash’aris and Mu’tazila; or between the heretical Wujudis and the learned Wujudis, or between those who use wine and intoxicants in their meditations and those who use litanies and prayer, or between those who treat the vanity of the heart by abandoning the main features of Shari’ah and those who treat it by giving attention towards sins and falling short in good deeds – you can find similar examples. The rule on such divergence is the necessity of calling one group specifically correct and calling the other incorrect similarly. Another kind of divergence is amongst adherents of truth like the divergence between the four imams or between the Ash’aris and Maturidis or between the Wara’i Wujudis and the Zilli Shuhudis, or between the adherents of the different Tariqas. The rule on this is that each of them are on a right road in most issues, and each have a direction to which they turn, so compete with each other in virtues. Whoever follows any one of them will succeed in attaining the goal.” (Abaqat, p. 174)

Shah Isma’il also mentions that his main source of guidance is the teachings of his uncles (i.e. Shah Abdul Aziz, Shah Abdul Qadir and Shah Rafiuddin). (Abaqat, p. 3)

Given the above, and that Shah Isma’il was a Sufi-philosopher, and given his location and history, it is nonsensical to say Shah Isma’il was a “Wahhabi”. Yet, Barelwis continue to make this slander and false accusation because to them facts don’t matter as much as what the “grand-master” of takfir and deception, Ahmad Rida Khan, claimed.

It should be noted such slanders against Shah Isma’il predate the lying dajjal Ahmad Rida Khan Barelwi. One such allegation was that the Arabic work of Shah Isma’il Shahid, Radd al-Ishrak, from which the Urdu Taqwiyat al-Iman derives, was a translation or summary of Kitab al-Tawhid of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab. As Mawlana Nurul Hasan Rashidi shows in a detailed academic research on Radd al-Ishrak and Taqwiyat al-Iman, there are several genuine manuscripts of Radd al-Ishrak available, but in one fabricated copy a fabricator changed the contents of Radd al-Ishrak and reworded it to make it appear to be a summary of Kitab al-Tawhid of Ibn Abd al-Wahhab. Then based on this fabrication some claimed Shah Isma’il’s Radd al-Ishrak/Taqwiyat al-Iman are based on Ibn Abd al-Wahhab’s Kitab al-Tawhid!

Note: A PDF of the genuine Radd al-Ishrak is available:

https://ia601606.us.archive.org/17/items/fresh_soul2030_yahoo_20170318/%D8%B1%D8%AF%20%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D8%B4%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%83%20%D9%84%D8%A5%D8%B3%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B9%D9%8A%D9%84%20%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B4%D9%87%D9%8A%D8%AF.pdf

Uthman Nabulusi, a student of Sa’id Fuda in Jordan and author of a work refuting mistaken Wahhabi conceptions on “Tawhid”, commented after reading Shah Isma’il’s introduction to the above work (Radd al-Ishrak):

هذه المقدمة لا غبار عليها، والفرق شاسع جدًأ بين كلامه وكلام محمد بن عبد الوهاب

“This introduction is completely unproblematic, and there is a massive difference between what he said and what Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab said.”

Shah Isma’il himself clarified that in some parts of Taqwiyat al-Iman he used the term “shirk” not literally (as Wahhabis did), but to refer to practices associated with shirk. This is discussed in an earlier post:

https://barelwism.wordpress.com/2015/10/30/%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%A1%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B4%D9%8A%D8%AE-%D8%A5%D8%B3%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B9%D9%8A%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AF%D9%87%D9%84%D9%88%D9%8A-%D9%85%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%82%D9%88%D9%84-%D8%A8/


Refuting the Allegation that Shah Isma’il said – Allah Forbid! – that to Think of the Prophet (SAW) in Salah is Worse than Thinking of Animals

March 10, 2017

The accusation was made by Ahmad Rida Khan in his al-Kawkabat al-Shihabiyya that Shah Isma’il said the thought (khayal) of the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) is worse in Salah than the thought of bulls and donkeys (quoted in Ibarat Akabir p. 87). And this is a common accusation still made by his followers. Mawlana Manzur Nu’mani (1905-1997), a student of ‘Allamah Anwar Shah Kashmiri, wrote a book in defence of Shah Isma’il called Hazrat Shah Ismail Shaheed Aur Mu‘anidin Ahle Bid’at Ke Ilzamat (Shawwal 1376 H/1957 CE) in which he addressed many of the common accusations against Shah Isma’il. The book is available here:

https://ia800201.us.archive.org/31/items/ShaykhShahIsmailShaheedr.aAurAhleBiddatKeIlzamatByShaykhMuhammad/ShaykhShahIsmailShaheedr.aAurAhleBiddatKeIlzamatByShaykhMuhammadManzoorNomanir.a.pdf

The first accusation he addresses (on pp. 14-39) is the charge that he said in Sirat e Mustaqim: “thinking (khayal) of the Prophet in Salah is worse than thinking of bulls and donkeys.” In his lengthy response, Nu’mani quotes the Persian passage from Sirat e Mustaqim in full and gives a summary translation. He also makes some introductory comments about the background to the book Sirat e Mustaqim to show the level of dishonesty of Ahmad Rida Khan Barelwi and his followers. I will summarise this section of his book in the following:

First, Mawlana Nu’mani writes, Sirat e Mustaqim is a collection of the utterances (malfuzat) of Sayyid Ahmad Shahid Berelwi, which were arranged by his disciples, Shah Isma’il and ‘Abd al-Hayy al-Burhanawi. Shah Isma’il arranged the first and fourth chapters, while ‘Abd al-Hayy arranged the second and third chapters. The passage in question is in the second chapter, so was not written or arranged by Shah Isma’il, hence the accusation is a lie from the very outset.

Second, the book deals with concepts of tasawwuf and uses Sufi terminologies (istilahat), in particular that of Shah Wali Allah. “Himmat” is one of those terms used in the section in question, and it means “emptying the heart of all thoughts and focusing on one object.” Mawlana Nu’mani quotes Shah Wali Allah from his Arabic al-Qawl al-Jamil: “”Himmah” is an expression about uniting the mind and strengthening resolve in the form of hope and desire, in such a way that no thought penetrates the heart besides this objective, like a thirsty person seeking water.” (al-himmatu ‘ibaratun ‘an ijtima‘ al-khatir wa ta’akkud al-‘azimati fi surat al-tamanni wa l-talab bihaythu la yakhturu fi l-qalbi khatirun siwa hadha al-murad ka talab al-‘atshan al-ma’). Shah Wali Allah in al-Qawl al-Jamil also describes another practice known as “Shughl Rabita” which is where the Himmah is focused on one’s shaykh or on Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam), so all good and bad thoughts are removed from one’s heart (including the thought of Allah), and the shaykh or the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) is kept in focus in order to gain spiritual benefit from him. A final stage of Himmah is known as Sarf Himmah or Shughl Barzakh in which a picture of the shaykh is formed in the mind and focused on. Those Sufis who allow this practice do not allow it in ritual acts like Salah.

Mawlana Nu’mani explains the gist of the passage from Sirat e Mustaqim: In salah such Shughl Rabitah or Shugl Barzakh (towards one’s shaykh or the Prophet) is worse than the thought of worldly matters entering the mind and then becoming engrossed in them, because the first is done intentionally whereas the second is unintentional, and the first is seen to be praiseworthy whereas the second is considered blameworthy by everyone, and the first is entertained whereas the second is removed once one comes to his senses. In short, he explains, such a practice in Salah is against the spirit of Salah which is conversing privately with Allah, and as expressed in hadith: “that you worship Allah as though you see Him.”

Along with quoting the Persian text, Mawlana Nu’mani offers a summary translation as follows (not an exact translation):

Sirat e Mustaqim: Chapter 2, Section 4, Second Counsel on those things which cause defects in worship and their treatment. There are three benefits in this counsel:

First benefit:

Both the soul (nafs) and Satan cause defects in Salah. The soul causes defects by encouraging laziness and seeking rest and comfort, so the worshipper seeks to complete the Salah quickly in order to rest or engage in some other activity that is more desirable to him. And the actions of Salah are performed in a way that is not prescribed (masnun) like a paralysed man with slack limbs, and the limbs are put in a way that is most comfortable because of a lack of care and attention. Similarly the soul brings about a lack of regulation in the internal senses so bad thoughts come to mind. In this way, the soul brings about external and internal defects in the Salah.

Satan causes defects by whispering (waswasa) to the worshipper. The worst form of whispering is that the worshipper thinks Salah is not an important activity, and such whispering can take one out of the fold of Islam into disbelief, as it results in degrading Salah and denial of an obligation in the religion. The lowest form of whispering is that it takes the worshipper away from conversing with Allah to some other thought, like it takes the mind of the worshipper to counting the number of rak’at and tasbihat so that no mistake comes in them; and the hafiz keeps thinking about the parts of the Qur’an that are similar to each other (mutashabihat). However, the one who concentrates on conversing with Allah, his rak’at and tasbihat are safe and he is safe from being confused in his recitation also; but Satan turns his attention elsewhere to cause some deficiency in the prayer. In sum, Satan tries to make the person a disbeliever, and when he fails in this, he tries to cause sin, and if this fails in this, then he turns his attention to the livestock one owns and all things besides Allah.

The students of knowledge should be warned not to think about grammatical (nahwi) rules related to what they recite, and this is worse than thought of livestock [as when the thought one is in Salah returns to one’s mind, he does not entertain anymore the latter thought, but he may the former]. If fuqaha were to extract rules in Salah, this would not cause perfection in it but deficiency. The people of kashf (i.e. Sufis) should not think that by performing Shughl Barzakh and thinking of meeting the angels and righteous that they reach the stage of “the believer’s ascension” (mi’raj al-mu’in) in Salah, rather this is one of the branches of shirk, though from the hidden (khafi) type or or more hidden (akhfa) type [of shirk].

[Mawlana Nu’mani notes here: This ruling is the same as what the scholars of tasawwuf said. Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani said: “Shirk is not worship of idols alone. Rather it is also you following your passions, and that you prefer over your Lord something besides Him of the world and the otherworld and whatever is in them; for whatever is besides Him is other than Him; so whenever you incline towards other than Him you have associated another with Him.” (laysa al-shirku ‘ibadat al-asnam fahasab’ bal huwa mutaba‘atu al-hawa, wa an takhtara ‘ala rabbika shay’an siwah min al-dunya wa al-akhirati wa ma fihima; fa ma siwahu ghayruhu; fa idha rakanta ila ghayrihi ashrakta bihi ghayrahu) (Futuh al-Ghayb). It is in this respect, Sirat e Mustaqim calls Shughl Barzakh and thinking of meeting angels and the righteous in Salah, “shirk khafi.” Mawlana Nu’mani summarises the above discussion to say that it mentions five scenarios of whisperings that come in Salah:
1. Something that unintentionally comes to the mind that has no relation to the Salah itself.
2. Thinking of the number of rak’at, tasbihat and mutashabihat
3. Student of nahw thinking of nahw/sarf
4. Student of fiqh deriving rulings of Salah
5. Sufis doing shughl barzakh and thinking of meeting angels/righteous. Sirat e Mustaqim continues to say:]

It should be noted that this discussion is not about the scenario where upon concentrating fully on conversing with Allah in Salah, knowledge is uncontrollably and unintentionally unveiled in the heart and angels, the righteous and the saints, and prophets are seen, as this causes no defect in Salah, rather it is from the favours of Allah. Rather the discussion is about intentionally doing Shughl Barzakh – focusing on the shaykh – or thinking of meeting the angels and the righteous.

Asking about needs in Salah does not infringe on Salah, rather is also from its perfections. Yes, intentionally thinking about worldly needs is from the reprehensible whispers of Satan and is a deficiency in Salah. That which was narrated from ‘Umar that he would think about the army in Salah, this should not deceive you, because you cannot draw an analogy between yourself and the elite. Khidr killing an innocent child was a great act of reward, whereas anybody else doing this act is from the highest level of sin. ‘Umar reached such a rank that thinking about his army caused no defect in his Salah, because this thought would come in conversation with Allah when inspiration (ilhamat) from Allah would descend into his heart. Whereas the one who thinks about any religious or worldly things purposefully in Salah, this is completely in opposition to the spirit of Salah.

[Mawlana Nu’mani here gives the example of Zakariyya (peace be upon him) who in Salah spoke to an Angel giving him news of his son (Qur’an 3:39); and as this was unintentional and from the blessings of Allah, this caused no defect in it]

Based on the requirement of the verse “darknesses, one above another,” (24:40) we can discuss which whispers are worse than others. Whispers in Salah about intimate relations with one’s wife is better than whispers about adultery [as the first is a permissible activity and the second impermissible]; and to put Himma (focus) on one’s shaykh or any righteous people or the Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) is worse than become engrossed (mustaghriq) in the thought of livestock (lit. bulls and donkeys); because in this there is veneration of the shaykh and the righteous and an attachment to them, whereas with bulls and donkeys there is no veneration and no attachment, rather the mind finds it offensive that they came into it. Such veneration will lead towards [hidden] shirk. The purpose of this discussion was to describe the levels of Satan’s whispering. People should not put in place of the presence of Allah [i.e. in Salah] anything besides Him.

The highlighted part shows that this passage from Sirat e Mustaqim does not absolutely consider mere “thought” about the prophets a deficiency in Salah, rather when in the correct form, it is from the blessings and perfections of Salah. The section in question from the last paragraph is targeted at the people of tasawwuf who may think performing the particular Sufi practices in Salah is a good thing, but it warns that it is in fact worse than thinking of worldly matters, as it leads to a form of veneration that is hidden shirk (this is also clear from the third paragraph above ). In context, therefore, the passage from Sirat Mustaqim is perfectly understandable, and far from disparaging the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam). Anyhow, the passage was not even written by Shah Isma’il, so the followers of Ahmad Rida Khan should no longer level this charge at him.