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.


Barelwi Ulama Use Pagan Arab Polytheist Tactics to Avoid Accusations of Shirk

January 27, 2019

Barelwi ulama attempt to avert difficult accusations of shirk by using the ‘ata’i (God-given) excuse.* A common person would tire himself finding the root of such belief. If we do find a trace of this belief in history then surely it will be among the pagan mushrikin Arabs who would declare belief in one supreme god, along with tens of other gods by way of ‘ata (God-given powers). The Noble Qur’an called this belief shirk.

(Extracted from Mutala‘a Barelwiyyat V.5 Pg.161, Dr Allama Khalid Mahmood)

* Aḥmad Riḍā Khān for example states: “Allāh Ta‘ālā is the ‘intrinsic assister’ (bizzāt madadgār) and this characteristic does not belong to any other. The Messenger and Awliyā of Allāh are assisters via Allāh giving them the power. All praise to Allāh!…Allāh Subḥānahū intrinsically waives harm while the Prophets and Awliyā (upon them blessing and praise) by God’s bestowal [waive harm].” (al-Amn wa l-‘Ulā, Fayḍān e Madīnah Publications, p. 125)

He further states: “Allāh’s deputy [i.e. Rasūlullāh ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam], on Allāh’s behalf, has the authority of complete discretion (taṣarruf) in Allāh’s kingdom.” (ibid. p. 136)

He states further: “The entire workshop of taking and giving from the Divine Court are in the hands of Muḥammad Rasūlullāh ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam.” (ibid. 102)

He describes the “keys the Owner of the Kingdom, the King of Kings, the All-Powerful, Jalla Jalāluhu, gave to his greatest deputy and most eminent representative ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam: keys to treasures, keys to the earth, keys to the world, keys of aid, keys of benefit, keys of paradise, keys of hellfire, keys of everything.” (ibid. 142-3)

How does he get around this belief amounting to shirk? He says: “When it is accepted that [the powers] are God-given, what is the meaning of shirk?” (ibid. p. 72)

Describing this Barelwī belief, Amjad ‘Alī A‘ẓamī (1882 – 1948), one of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s closest disciples and successors, 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 except 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 is a portion of his blessings. The rulings of Shari‘ah have been delegated to his authority. He may make impermissible (arām) for anyone whatever he decides. Similarly, he may make permissible (alāl) whatever he wishes and exempt whatever obligation (far) he desires.” (Bahār e Sharī‘at, p. 42-3)

For a thorough refutation of such false belief, see Dil Kā Surūr (written in 1951) of Mawlānā Sarfrāz Khān Safdar.


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

December 29, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Endorsements

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

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

Contents

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

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

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

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


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.


Ahmad Rida Khan’s Father Rejects the Belief in Hazir/Nazir, Hearing from a Distance, for Saints

November 29, 2018

Naqi Ali Khan (1830-1880), Ahmad Rida Khan’s (1856 – 1921) father and primary teacher, says:

For example, an ignoramus holds the belief in connection to an accomplished individual from the saints of this Ummah that he knows the conditions of the entire world altogether at all times and moments and whoever calls him at any time from any place he hears immediately, then although the belief is apparently not established, but if together with this he does not regard him to be independent in the knowledge and power, and regards them all to be from the notification and power of God, and nor does he regard him to be of necessary existence and deserving of worship, he will not become Mushrik based on this belief. Yes, the masses should be prevented from this belief and its falsity should be demonstrated… (Usul al-Rashad, Idarah e Ahl e Sunnat, p. 45-6)

Thus, he clearly rejects the belief that saints are “hazir nazir” or are able to hear from a distance.

In regards to Naqi Ali Khan’s point, however, the masses cannot be trusted to always hold such pure beliefs as expressed by him. Many of them hold Mu’tazili-like beliefs about “secondary causes”, that is, Allah created things with inherent powers, and after receiving those powers they operate independently rather than being dependent on Him in each and every instance. Several centuries ago, Imam al-Sanusi (1428 – 1490) stated that this is generally the belief held by the masses (Sharh al-Kubra, p. 37).

Thus, the Hanafi imams have ruled that such beliefs about saints, which would clearly be based on “independence” (even if it is believed that the powers were initially received from Allah), to be kufr, as it would be to ascribe independent knowledge of the unseen to someone. Allamah Abdul Hayy al-Lakhnawi wrote:

Such recitation consists of calling on the dead from a distance and it is not established in the Shari‘ah that saints have the power to listen to a call from a distance. However, it is established that the dead hear the salutation of the visitors to their graves. But to believe that anyone beside Allah (Glorified is He) is present and seeing and aware of the hidden and evident at all times is shirk. In Fatawa Bazaziyyah it is written that if one marries without witnesses and says that I make Allah, His Messenger and the angels witnesses, ‘he has disbelieved because he believed that the Messenger and the angel know the unseen, and our ‘ulama’ have said that whoever says that the souls of the saints are present and knowing has disbelieved.’ Although Hazrat Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir is one of the great saints of the Muhammadan nation and his merits and virtues are innumerable, but it is not established that he hears the distressed caller from a distance. And the beliefs that he is aware of his disciple’s affairs all the time, and hears their calls, are beliefs of shirk. And Allah knows best.” (Majmu’ah al-Fatawa, 4:331; quoted in Maqalat Usmani, 2:307)

Naqi Ali Khan refers to Shah Ishaq Dehlawi as “the second imam of the opposition (“Wahhabis”)” (i.e. after Shah Isma’il Dehlawi) (Usul al-Rashad, p 57 and other places), based on Shah Ishaq Dehlawi’s works Masa’il Arbain and Mi’ah Masa’il. Shah Ishaq Dehlawi (1782 – 1846) was like a son to his grandfather Shah Abdul Aziz Dehlawi, and Shah Abdul Aziz Dehlawi appointed him as his successor, and gifted him all his books. Thus, Shah Ishaq Dehlawi sat in Shah Abdul Aziz’s position after his death in 1824. In 1842, he traveled with a large group of his family and settled in Makkah, and was regarded very highly by the Ulama of Makkah. He had many students, including Shaykh Abdul Ghani Dehlawi (whose asanid are collected in al-Yani al-Jani), Shaykh Qutbuddin al-Dehlawi (author of Mazahir al-Haqq), Shaykh Ahmad Ali Saharanpuri (editor and publisher of the first print of Sahih al-Bukhari), Mufti Inayat Ahmad Kakorvi (author of Ilm al-Sighah), Shaykh Fadl al-Rahman Ganjmuradabadi (the famous spiritual master) and others. Sayyid Abdul Hayy Hasani says: “No sanad of hadith remains in India besides this sanad [via Shah Ishaq Dehlawi].” (Nuzhat al-Khawatir, p. 911)* This is a clear demonstration that Barelwi claims to be a continuation of the earlier scholarly tradition is false. Barelwi “scholarship” is an effort to justify popular beliefs and practices, not to be a continuation of the earlier scholarly tradition.

Naqi Ali Khan’s work, Usul al-Rashad, is problematic from many angles. He, for instance, claims that the view of bid’ah being divided into good and bad in only its linguistic usage rather than its Shar’i usage is a fallacy. (Usul al-Rashad, p. 61-2) But this reality was expressed by several imams of the past like Ibn Kathir, Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali and Birgivi. (see p 18-20 here: https://bawariqalghaybtranslation.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/bidah-a-study.pdf) His discussion on bid’ah is very selective and skewed, and overlooks some very important issues.

* This is apparently in reference to a sanad of hadith that is based on a complete recitation of the famous books of hadith; such a sanad can only be traced via Shah Ishaq al-Dehlawi in India. Otherwise, there are other sanads to Shah Abdul Aziz Dehlawi, but these are not based on a complete recitation of the books of hadith.


Istighāthah: The Importance of Definition

November 26, 2018

Istighāthah (taking help) can refer to asking a deceased person to fulfil one’s need. This is the meaning of istighāthah which the Barelwīs favour and the Deobandīs strongly oppose.

However, istighāthah has in the past been used more loosely to refer to other meanings, for example:

  1. Tawassul through deceased personalities. E.g. saying: “O Allah, I ask you through the intermediary of” or “by the blessing of so-and-so” “to fulfil this work of mine.”
  2. Deriving blessing (tabarruk) from the mention of someone. E.g. calling out Yā Muammad as an act of love and showing a connection with the blessed name, without the belief that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) will hear it directly or that it will necessarily reach him.
  3. Deriving spiritual blessing from the grave of a saint. That is, sitting at the side of the grave and meditating, but not asking for anything from the inhabitant of the grave.
  4. At the grave side, asking the inhabitant of the grave to pray to Allah for the fulfillment of one’s needs.

These are meanings that Deobandīs do not dispute. Deobandīs unanimously accept the first three meanings. The fourth meaning they describe as a matter of legitimate dispute. Mawlānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī said about the fourth meaning: “To go close to a grave and say, ‘Oh such and such person, pray for me that the Most High fulfils my work.’ There is a difference among the ‘ulamā’ regarding this. Those who consider it permissible to believe that the dead can hear consider this permissible and those who do not believe that the dead can hear forbid this … However, there is no difference in the hearing of the Prophets (peace be upon them), on account of this they are exempt.” (al-Fatāwā al-Rashīdiyyah, p. 139) About the third meaning, the author of al-Muhannad states: “As for deriving benefit from the spirituality of the great saints and receiving internal effusions from their breasts or their graves, this is correct in the manner recognised by its experts and specialists, but not in the manner widespread amongst the common people.” (al-Muhannad, Dār al-Fatḥ, p. 60)

‘Allāmah Ṣun‘ullāh al-Ḥalabī al-Ḥanafī (d. 1708), a pre-Wahhābī pre-Deobandī Ottoman Ḥanafī jurist based in Ḥalab and Makkah, refuted the practice of calling out to dead saints for help while believing they have taarrufāt (powers of discretion) to help. He wrote a relatively lengthy treatise on the topic called Sayfullāh ‘alā man Kadhaba ‘alā Awliyā’illah, containing many useful discussions, including a crucial distinction between karāmāt (exceptional miracles) and taṣarrufāt (continuous powers). ‘Allāmah Ṣun‘ullāh was a Sunnī who made ta’wīl of the Ṣifāt Khabariyyah like yad (hand) (hence could not have been a “Taymī” or a “Wahhābī”), and supported Tawassul. In explaining what some of the scholars before him meant by the permissibility of “istighāthah”, he said: “What has been said about istighāthah being permitted via the prophets and saints, the intent is only deriving blessing (tabarruk) from mentioning them, and making tawassul through them, not asking for help [directly] from them.” (Sayfullāh ‘alā man Kadhaba ‘alā Awliyā’illah, Dār al-Kitāb wa l-Sunnah, p. 49-50)

Shaykh ‘Abdul Ḥaqq Muḥaddith Dehlawī (1551 – 1642), the celebrated imām of ḥadīth from the subcontinent, has a brief discussion on “istighāthah” in his Arabic commentary on Mishkāt, al-Lama‘āt (Lama‘āt al-Tanqīḥ, Dār al-Nawādir, 7:38-40). What is interesting about this discussion is that although Shaykh ‘Abdul Ḥaqq Muḥaddith Dehlawī uses the terms “istimdād” and “istighāthah” and defends their practice against opponents, it is clear that he is using them in the alternative meanings described above (in particular, meanings 1, 3 and 4). Relevant parts of this discussion are translated below:

As for istimdād from the inhabitants of graves, some jurists have denounced it. If the denunciation is because they have no hearing, knowledge or feeling of the one visiting and his conditions, then this has been proven to be false, and if it is because they have no power or control in that location to help them but are held back from them and occupied in the trials that occur to their souls which distract them from all else, then this is not regarded as always [being the case], especially for the pious who are the friends of Allāh, and thus it is possible for their souls to acquire closeness to the Lord Most Exalted in the Barzakh, and position and power to intercede and make du‘ā and ask for needs to those visiting and making Tawassul through them.

I don’t understand the istimdād and imdād that the denouncer is negating. What we understand is that a needy supplicant, in need of Allāh, makes du‘ā to Allāh and asks his need from His Most Exalted grace, and takes the spirituality of this slave brought close and ennobled by Him Most Exalted as an intermediary, saying: “O Allāh, by the blessing of this slave that You have shown mercy to and have ennobled, and the gentleness and honour You have over him, fulfil my need and grant my request, verily You are the Generous Giver.” Or he calls out to this slave brought close and ennobled by Him Most Exalted, saying: “O slave of Allāh, O friend of His, intercede for me and make du‘ā to your Lord and ask Him to give me my request and fulfil my need.” The giver and the one asked and the one hoped in is the Lord Most High and Most Exalted, and the slave in between is nothing but an intermediary. The one with power, agency and control is none but Him, and the friends of  Allāh are annihilated in His Most Exalted agency, power and control.

That which is transmitted from the saints who experience kashf upon istimdād (i.e. deriving spiritual benefit) from the souls of the accomplished and taking benefit from them, it is more than can be counted, described in their works, well-known amongst them, so there is no need to cite them. (Lama‘āt al-Tanqīḥ, Dār al-Nawādir, 7:38-40)

As can be seen, Shaykh ‘Abdul Ḥaqq is describing only the first, third and fourth meanings of “istighāthah” (a term he also uses in this passage alongside “istimdād”) described above. He is not talking about calling out directly to the deceased, asking for them to fulfil one’s needs. While describing how the ignorant engage in “istighāthah”, however, he states in the same discussion:

Yes, if visitors believe that the inhabitants of graves are independent, powerful actors, without turning to the Divine Presence and taking recourse to it, as believed by the heedless ignorant ones…that is prohibited and forbidden. The practice of the common people has no consideration at all. (Lama‘āt al-Tanqīḥ, Dār al-Nawādir, 7:39)

Shāh ‘Abdul ‘Azīz Dehlawī (1746 – 1824) also denounced the belief of the ignorant when engaging in istighāthah. He said in a Farsi answer:

People from this Ummah have gone into excess in the matter of istighāthah from pure souls. That which the ignorant and common people do, and what they believe about them of full independence in every action, this is manifest shirk without doubt. (Fatāwā ‘Azīzī, Maṭba‘ Mujtabā’ī, p. 121)

The Ḥanafī mufti of Baghdad who came a generation before the founders of Deoband, ‘Allāmah Maḥmūd al-Ālūsī (1802 – 1854), author of the celebrated Rūḥ al-Ma‘ānī, also condemned the istighāthah of the common people*:

People have increased in calling on other than Allah (Exalted is He), from the saints, the living of them and the dead, and other than them, like: ‘O my master so-and-so, give me relief.’ This is not from the permissible [form of] Tawassul at all. It is befitting the condition of a believer to avoid saying this and avoid roaming around its boundary. Some ‘ulamā’ have considered it shirk, and if it is not so, then it is close to it.

I have not seen anyone who utters this but he believes that the one called, whether an absent living person or a dead person, knows the unseen or hears the call and is able, intrinsically or extrinsically, to bring benefit and repel harm; otherwise he would not call him or open his mouth!

In this is a great trial from your Lord! It is obligatory to stay away from this and not seek [help] except from Allāh (Exalted is He), the Strong, the Independent, the Doer of what He wills.

Let it not delude you that the one seeking help from creation often has his need fulfilled and his objective accomplished, for that is a trial and a tribulation from Him (Great and Glorious is He). Often the devil takes the form to the one asking help of the one he asked help from, so he believes it to be a miracle of the one he asked help from. Far, very far! Indeed, it is only the devil misguiding him and turning him astray. (ḥ al-Ma‘ānī, Mu’assasat al-Risālah, 7:181)

* Note: Some have claimed that his work, Rūḥ al-Ma‘ānī, has been tampered with. In fact, there is no tampering in Rūḥ al-Ma‘ānī. The team of researchers who worked on the recent Mu’assasat al-Risālah print of Rūḥ al-Ma‘ānī relied on a number of manuscripts, the primary manuscript being one copied (by several scribes) directly from the author’s own copy, which was then checked by the author (Sayyid Maḥmūd Ᾱlūsī) himself. The researchers comment: “The manuscripts that we relied on, particularly this primary manuscript, is no different from the widely available prints of the Tafsīr. They are exactly the same. Hence what was said…that the son of Ᾱlūsī was not trustworthy in printing the tafsir of his father does not conform with reality.” (Rūḥ al-Ma‘ānī, Mu’assasat al-Risālah, 2010, 1:72)


Qāḍī Thanāullāh Pānipatī (1731 – 1810) Opposes Istighāthah and Belief in ‘Ilm al-Ghayb/Ḥāḍir-Nāẓir for Awliyā’

November 24, 2018

Qāḍī Thanāullāh Pānipatī (1731 – 1810) was a foremost student of Shāh Waliyyullāh al-Dehlawī (1703 – 1762) in external sciences and Mirzā Maẓhar Jānejān Naqshbandī (1699 – 1781) in esoteric sciences. The latter regarded Qāḍī Thanāullāh very highly, and gave him the title “‘alam al-hudā” (landmark of guidance), and said “If Allāh asks for a gift to present in His court, I will present Thanāullah.” Shāh Abdul Azīz referred to him as “Bayhaqī al-Waqt” (Nuzhat al-Khawāṭir, p. 942) Qāḍī Thanāullāh Pānipatī was known for his deep knowledge and for his piety and acts of devotion. He would pray 100 rak‘ats nafl each day, recite a seventh of the Qur’ān each day, along with other daily adhkār. He authored several works, including the very popular Mā Lā Budda Minhu and a Tafsīr named after his shaykh, al-Tafsīr al-Maharī.

He opposed ignorant beliefs about prophets and saints, including beliefs that would today be associated with the Barelwis. He authored a work called Irshād al-ālibīn on the subject of wilāyah (sainthood) and the misconceptions people have about wilāyah. The work was initially written in Arabic and then he translated it to Farsi. When censuring the excesses people engage in with regards to Awliyā, he writes:

Ruling: Just as it is impermissible to fall short in the ādāb towards the shaykh, going into excess, trespassing the bounds, in this is also a great evil, which results in falling short in the ādāb afforded to the Divine Presence. Christians went into such excess in veneration of ‘Īsa (upon him peace) that they regard him to be the son of God! This results in falling short in ādāb afforded to Allāh Most Exalted. The Rāfiḍīs have adopted excess in venerating Haḍrat ‘Alī (Allāh ennoble his face). Thus, some say that God Most Exalted dwelled in him, some say revelation came to him and some say he is better than the three Companions [Abū Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Uthmān], which results in falling short in ādāb towards God Most Exalted, the Messenger of God (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) or the three Companions.

Ruling: The Awliyā’ do not have ‘Ilm al-Ghayb. Yes, in connection to some unseen things, by way of breaking the norm, they are given knowledge via kashf or ilhām. To say that the Awliyā Kirām have knowledge of Ghayb is Kufr. Allāh Most Exalted said: ‘Say: I do not say to you I have the treasures of Allāh, nor do I know the Ghayb.’ And Allah Most Exalted said: ‘They do not encompass anything from His Knowledge but what He chooses.’ Other verses prove this thesis also.

Ruling: If someone says that God and His Messenger (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) are witness to this matter, he becomes Kāfir. The Awliyā Kirām are not capable of creating from nonexistence nor abolishing from existence. Thus, in connection to creating, abolishing, bringing sustenance, granting children, removing calamity, granting cure to illness etc., requesting help from them is Kufr; just as Allāh Most Exalted states in the Qur’ān Majīd: ‘Say I do not possess profit for myself nor harm, besides what Allāh chooses.’

Ruling: It is not permissible to make ‘ibādah of anyone besides God. Nor is it permissible to ask help of anyone besides God. ‘You alone we worship and You alone we ask for help.’ Allāh is teaching His slaves to say that we worship only you, and ask help only of you. Iyyāka is for exclusivity. Thus, to make offerings (nadhr) to Awliyā Kirām is not allowed, because such offerings are worship. If someone makes such an offering, he should not fulfil it, because it is necessary to safeguard oneself from sin as far as possible. It is not permissible to circulate graves, because Ṭawāf of Baytullāh shares the ruling of Ṣalāh.

Ruling: Supplicating to the deceased or living Awliyā or Anbiyā’ is not permissible. Rasūlullāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) said: ‘Supplication is worship.’ Then he recited the verse: ‘Supplicate to Me, I will answer you. Indeed those who disdain My worship will enter Jahannam, humiliated.’

Ruling: The statements of the ignorant ones: ‘Yā Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qādir al-Jīlānī shay’an lillāh’ and ‘Yā Khawāja Shams al-Dīn al-Pānipatī shay’an lillah’ (‘Oh Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qādir al-Jīlānī give something for the sake of Allāh’, and ‘Oh Khawāja Shams al-Din Pānipatī give something for the sake of Allāh’) are not permissible. In fact, they are Shirk and Kufr. But if someone says: ‘Oh my Lord, through the mediation of Khawāja Shams al-Dīn Pānipatī, fulfil the following need of mine’ then there is no harm. Allāh Most Exalted says: ‘Those they call upon besides Allah are slaves like you.’ If someone argues this is regarding the Kuffār who invoke their idols, the answer is ‘besides Allāh’ is a general expression, and it is the [generality of the] expression that is given consideration not the specific context. (Irshād al-Tālibīn, Urdu translation, Maṭba‘ Asrār Karīmī p. 22-24)

In his popular work, Mā Lā Budda Minhu, he writes at the end of the section on Janā’iz:

To prostrate before the graves of the prophets and saints, to circumambulate around them, to invoke them [for help], or to make offerings to the inhabitants of graves is ḥarām; rather some of these matters lead to Kufr. The Messenger of Allāh, may peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him, cursed the people who do such things and forbade the Ummah from doing them, and ordered us not to make his grave an idol. (Mā Lā Budda Minhu, Maktabah Raḥmāniyyah, p.82)