Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s Allegation
Aḥmad Riḍā Khān (1856 – 1921) alleged in Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn (written in: 1906) that Maulānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī (1829 – 1905) had written a fatwā stating that a person that believes Allāh has actually spoken a lie does not become a disbeliever. He claimed the fatwā is available in the handwriting of Maulānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī and with his seal. The following is from a recent edition of Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn:
Based on this alleged fatwā, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān issued a definitive verdict of takfīr against Maulānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī, even claiming that anyone who doubts the takfīr is himself a disbeliever!
In al-Muhannad ‘ala l-Mufannad (written in: 1907), ‘Allāmah Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī explained that this is a fabrication, and goes against what Maulānā Gangohī had written in his published Fatāwā.
Maulānā Ganoghī’s Published Fatwā
In a published fatwā written in both Urdu and Arabic, Maulānā Gangohī had written that anyone that says Allāh has actually spoken a lie is a disbeliever and is accursed. (Fatāwā Rashīdiyyah; from Ta’līfāt Rasḥidiyyah, p96, 97)
This well-known and established fatwā of Maulānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī thus states the complete opposite of the alleged fatwā.
Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Doubling Down in Tamhīd e Īmān
In Tamhīd e Īmān (written in: 1908), Aḥmad Riḍā Khān then presented some reasons why he believes it is correct to attribute this fatwā to Maulānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī (Fatāwā Riḍawiyyah, 30:349-50):
His argument can be summarised as follows:
- The fatwā was published several times with refutations of it, starting from 1308 H (1890 CE)
- Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohi lived for some 15 years thereafter
- The allegation is not something trivial that it can be ignored
- His nondenial of it is thus proof it is his
Regardless of the weaknesses of this argument, it hinges primarily on the claim that Maulānā Gangohī did not deny the attribution.
Maulānā Gangohī’s Denial of the Fabricated Fatwā
However, Maulānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī did deny the fatwā as documented by his student Maulānā Murtaḍā Ḥasan Chāndpūrī (1868 – 1951) in a treatise called Tazkiyat al-Khawāṭir (Majmū‘ah Rasā’il Chāndpūrī, 1:106), a copy of which was sent to Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī.
The Fabricated Fatwā is not Recognised by Students and Associates of Maulānā Gangohī
Maulānā Ḥusayn Aḥmad Madanī (1879 – 1957), another student of Maulānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī, points out further that this alleged fatwā is not known to any of the students of Maulānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī (al-Shihāb al-Thāqib, p259):
In short, the fatwā that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī alleged was authored by Maulānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī and based on which he issued a definitive verdict of takfīr:
- Opposes what he has explicitly written in a published, well-known fatwā
- Was denied by Maulānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī himself
- Is not recognised by his students and associates
- Has consistently been rejected as a forgery by the students of Maulānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī
For any fair-minded and objective person, a piece of writing can never be legitimately attributed to the alleged author based on such flimsy “evidence”, let alone passing a definitive verdict of takfīr based on it!
Mukhtaṣar Kitāb al-Tawḥīd: A Case Study on Fabrication
It is not hard to believe that this fatwā was fabricated given the above evidence, and given that the alleged fatwā – by Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s own admission – was circulated only amongst opponents of Maulānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī.
A few decades prior to this fabrication, another fabrication was offered as evidence by a predecessor to Aḥmad Riḍā Khān: Faḍl e Rasūl Badāyūnī (1798 – 1872). The latter alleged in a work called Sayf al-Jabbār that Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb had authored a summary of his Kitāb al-Tawḥīd in Arabic, which was then translated and commented on by Shāh Ismā‘īl Dehlawī as Taqwiyat al-Īmān. This entire tale is false. For details, see here.
Barelwīs, including Aḥmad Riḍā Khān himself, repeat this fabricated evidence of Faḍl e Rasūl Badāyūnī. Faḍl e Rasūl Badāyūnī presents lengthy quotations from the supposed summary of Kitāb al-Tawḥīd. The reality is that this “summary of Kitāb al-Tawḥīd” was manufactured by fabricators who “translated” sections from Taqwiyat al-Īmān into Arabic but giving them the worst possible interpretations. Hence, the “summary of Kitāb al-Tawḥīd” that Faḍl e Rasūl Badāyūnī presents bears no resemblance with the actual Kitāb al-Tawḥīd of Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb, while it does bear some resemblance with Taqwiyat al-Īmān. Based on this fabrication, Faḍl e Rasūl Badāyūnī, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān and others allege that Taqwiyat al-Īmān is literally based on Kitāb al-Tawḥīd of Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb.
[Note: Taqwiyat al-Īmān is indeed based on an earlier work, but one authored by Shāh Ismā‘īl al-Dehlawī himself in Arabic, called Radd al-Ishrāk. Based on the testimony of experts, Shāh Ismā‘īl al-Dehlawī’s definition of Tawḥīd and Shirk in the introduction to Radd al-Ishrāk is completely different from, and opposed to, the definition of Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhāb. See here for details.]
Since a whole book was fabricated to defame Shāh Ismā‘īl Shahīd, and was presented as evidence by a predecessor to Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī, is it hard to believe a fatwā was invented to defame Maulānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī and was then presented as evidence by Aḥmad Riḍā Khān to make a definitive verdict of takfīr against him?
An individual writing online has claimed that the handwriting in the manuscript of the fatwā that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān ascribed to Maulānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī and used to make takfīr on him (as shown above) resembles Maulānā Gangohī’s actual handwriting – as though this is enough to prove the attribution!
It should be noted Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī himself said handwriting is not considered to be proof. (Malfūẓāt A‘lā Ḥaḍrat, p235)
It is also common sense that if a fatwā was going to be fabricated in the name of someone to defame him, the fabricators would ensure the handwriting is similar.
Moreover, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān says in his treatise Ḥajb al-‘Awār: “[Merely] on account of a book or treatise being ascribed to the name of a buzurg, definitive authenticity is not entailed. Many treatises are attributed particularly in the name of the seniors of Chisht which are not established at all.” (Fatāwā Riḍawiyyah, 15:556)
He explains that people had made insertions, interpolations and fabrications in the writings of others. Hence, one must base the attribution of a work or piece of writing to an author on solid, reliable evidence.
Just the “handwriting being similar” or “it having a name and seal on it” are not sufficient evidence that it belongs to the person being claimed to be the author, especially when it opposes what he clearly stated in a well-established statement, he himself denies the attribution, it is not recognised by any of his students and associates and has consistently been rejected by them as a forgery – as is the case here.