The Blasphemy and Kufr of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī According to Barelwī Standards

January 6, 2019

In an academic refutation of Mawlānā ‘Abdus Samī‘ Rāmpūrī, Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī explained that it is not correct to affirm certain kinds of worldly knowledge (on which virtue does not depend) for the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) merely based on the fact that others that are inferior to him, like the Angel of Death or Satan, have acquired this knowledge. In fact, to attribute such knowledge to the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) that has not been proven to have been acquired by him would be to affirm non-granted, intrinsic knowledge for him, which is shirk. (Barāhīn-e-Qāi‘ah, p. 54-7)

Based on this explanation, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī ruled that Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī had insulted the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) and had affirmed more knowledge for Satan than the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). He further implicates Mawlānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī for having endorsed Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī’s work. The allegation that this is an insult and that it amounts to holding the blasphemous belief that Satan is more knowledgeable than the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) has been responded to in detail by Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī himself and other scholars. (See, for example, The Decisive Debate, p. 41-60).

The irony is that Mawlānā ‘Abdus Samī‘ Rāmpūrī in his work Anwār-e-Sāi‘ah, which was the text that was refuted in Barāhīn-e-Qāi‘ah, explicitly states:

The supporters of the gatherings of Mīlād (meaning, himself and those of his persuasion) do not claim that Rasūlullāh (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) is present in all places of the world, pure and impure, and in religious and irreligious gatherings, while it is established that the Angel of Death and Iblīs are present in far more places, pure and impure, and of disbelief and non-disbelief.

A PDF of the work can be found at the following link:

And this passage can be found on page 254. The Urdu is as follows:

Ahl e Mefil e Mīlād to Rasūlullāh allallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam ke zamīn kī tamām pāk wa nāpāk jagah aur majālis mazhabī wa ghayr mazhabī mein āzir hone ka dawā nehein kurte jubkeh malak al-mawt aur iblīs kā iss se bihī ziyādah tar pāk wa nāpāk aur kufr wa ghayr kufr ke maqāmāt mein āzir hona pāyā jāta hein

In this passage, Mawlānā ‘Abdus Samī‘ Rāmpūrī explicitly states that Satan is present in more places of the world than the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). He is thus saying that Satan has a greater presence than the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam)! If Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī’s statement is blasphemy and kufr, Mawlānā ‘Abdus Samī‘ Rāmpūrī’s statement is undoubtedly blasphemy and kufr.*

Yet, we find that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī endorsed this work! His endorsement can be found on pages 381-386 of the above edition. He says: “I happened to have a look at some of [Mawlānā ‘Abdus Samī‘ Rāmpūrī’s] pure speech, like Dāfi‘ al-Awhām, at al-Qulūb and Anwār-e-Sāi‘ah, the contents of which I found to reflect their titles. May Allāh give the author the best of rewards.” (ibid. p. 386)

The challenge Barelwīs face is that if they are to insist on Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s false takfīr of Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī, it would backfire and they would have to make takfīr of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān himself! But if they reject Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s takfīr of Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī, then they would be rejecting a pillar of Barelwism. A perfect catch-22.

* An important distinction should be noted between the statements of Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī and Mawlānā ‘Abdus Samī‘ Rāmpūrī.

Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī does not say “Satan is more knowledgeable than the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam)” as was imputed to him by Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī. His discussion was clearly about the knowledge of certain worldly items (like geography, people’s circumstances). In such matters which having knowledge of implies no extra virtue or merit, Satan was given a greater awareness. But in matters on which virtue and excellence depend, there is no one more learned than the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam).

In Mawlānā ‘Abdus Samī‘ Rāmpūrī’s statement, however, there is no such distinction. A clear statement is made that Satan is present “in far more places” than the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam)! Thus, according to Barelwī understanding, he has affirmed a quality of perfection to a greater quantity for Satan than for the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). Based on their principles, there can be no doubt that this is blasphemy and kufr.

UPDATE (09/01/19):

Abu Hasan, the fraud and liar*, has responded to the above**. Ignoring the typical insults, his response boils down to: The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) chooses to not be present at such lowly places. In short, although Mawlānā ‘Abdus Samī‘ Rāmpūrī explicitly drew a comparison between the Satan and the Prophet, and said Satan is “present in far more places” than the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), this is not blasphemy or an insult because being present at such places is unbefitting the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). So, what we establish from this is that Abu Hasan Barelwi, the fraud and liar, believes that it would not be blasphemous to affirm an apparent quality of perfection (i.e. being present) for Satan to a greater quantity than the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). In fact, to Abu Hasan, it may even be a virtue that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) is not present at such lowly places while the Satan is.

Given this admission, it will be far easier for a Barelwī to make sense of Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī’s discussion.

As the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) is a human being and a creation, his knowledge was acquired and was not intrinsic. Hence, he does not possess all knowledge by his very nature, but acquired knowledge via revelation. In fact, the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) asked protection from knowledge that is of no benefit. (Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim) This would undoubtedly include knowledge of certain details of the world and of detailed descriptions and circumstances of people. Such lowly knowledge does not befit the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) but does befit Satan whose preoccupation is to know about the world and the detailed circumstances of people. (Despite this, Barelwīs affirm such lowly knowledge for the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam).)

Qāḍī ‘Iyāḍ wrote:

فأما ما يتعلق منها بأمر الدنيا، فلا يشترط في حقالأنبياء العصمة من عدم معرفة الأنبياء ببعضها، أو اعتقادها على خلاف ما هي عليه، ولا وصم عليهم فيه.. إذ هممهم متعلقة بالآخرة وأنبائها.. وأمر الشريعة وقوانينها.. وأمور الدنيا تضادها.

– بخلاف غيرهم من أهل الدنيا الذبن «يعلمون ظاهرا من الحياة الدنيا وهم عن الآخرة هم غافلون …ولكنه لا يقال إنهم لا يعلمون شيئا من أمر الدنيا فإن ذلك يؤدي إلى الغفلة والبله وهم النزهون عنه

“As for that which is connected from these [knowledges] with the affair of the world, protection is not a condition with respect to prophets, in that the prophets are unaware of some of it or hold a belief about it contrary to reality. There is no blemish on them in this, since their aspirations are connected to the next life and its events, and the matter of Sharī‘ah and its laws, while the matters of the world are contrary to these, as distinguished from others of the people of the world who ‘know the outward of the worldly life and are heedless of the next life.’ (Qur’ān, 30:7)…Although it may not be said that they know nothing of the affair of the world because that will amount to ignorance and foolishness which they are free of.” (al-Shifā’, Jā’izah Dubai, p. 631-2)

He makes the same point in another place of the work with reference to the ḥadīth, “You are more aware of the affairs of your world.” (al-Shifā’, p. 723) Then he makes the general point:

فمثل هذا وأشباهه من أمور الدنيا التي لا مدخل فيها لعلم ديانة، ولا اعتقادها، ولا تعليمها يجوز عليه فيها ما ذكرناه.. إذ ليس في هذا كله نقيصة ولا محطة، وإنما هي أمور اعتيادية يعرفها من جربها وجعلها همه. وشغل نفسه بها والنبي صلى الله عليه وسلم مشحون القلب بمعرفة الربوبية، ملآن الجوانح بعلوم الشريعة، قصيد البال بمصالح الأمة الدينية والدنيوية. ولكن هذا إنما يكون في بعض الأمور ويجوز في النادر. وفيما سبيله التدقيق في حراسة الدنيا واستثمارها، لا في الكثير المؤذن بالبله والغفلة.

“In such things and their likes from the matters of the world which have no involvement in religious knowledge, belief or education, what we mentioned is possible for him, as none of this is deficiency or diminishment. Rather, they are ordinary things known to those who have experience of them and make it their concern and occupy their minds with them. The Prophet’s (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) heart is filled with knowledge of the divine, his sides filled with knowledges of Sharī‘ah, his mind restrained by the religious and worldly interests of the Ummah. But this will only be in some affairs…not in many, which would signify stupidity or ignorance.” (ibid. p. 724)

Hence, understood in this light, what Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī said is in fact in honour of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam)’s blessed knowledge: it is free of the nonsense and useless things that occupy the mind of Satan. This is precisely what he states in al-Muhannad: “The concealment of some insignificant particular details from the Prophet (upon him be peace) due to his inattention to them does not cause any defect to his (upon him be peace) being the most learned once it is established that he is the most knowledgeable of the noble sciences that are fitting to his lofty station, just as cognizance of most of those insignificant things due to the intensity of Iblīs’s attention to them does not cause glory and perfection of knowledge in him, since virtue and excellence do not hinge on this. Thus, it is not correct to say that Iblīs is more knowledgeable than the Messenger of Allāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) just as it is not correct to say about a child who knows some particulars that he is more knowledgeable than an erudite scholar deeply immersed in the sciences, from whom those particulars are hidden.” (al-Muhannad, p. 71)

The only issue that remains is Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī referring to the belief that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) has such detailed worldly knowledge as “shirk”. The reason it is described as shirk as clear from the context of his discussion in Barāhīn e Qāṭi‘ah is that to affirm such knowledge based only on a false analogy implies the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) acquired the knowledge without it being granted to him, or without any intermediary, but just of his own. Such a belief is shirk. For a fuller explanation, see The Decisive Debate***, p. 60-3, where this objection is discussed. The sentence that Abu Hasan quoted, in context, means the following (with Mawlānā Manẓūr Nu‘mānī’s explanation in parentheses):

The upshot is, it should be considered, that upon seeing the condition of Satan and the Angel of Death [meaning, seeing that they have acquired knowledge of the places of the world as is understood from the evidences of Mawlawi ‘Abd al-Sami‘ Sahib], to affirm encompassing knowledge of the world [i.e. intrinsic knowledge] for the Pride of the World (Allah bless him and grant him peace) against decisive texts, without evidence, and purely from corrupt analogy [meaning, based on the logic that since the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is superior to Satan and Angel of Death, due to his superiority, all knowledge of the world will self-generate in him], if it is not shirk then what part of faith is it?

This expanse for Satan and the Angel of Death [meaning, with Allah’s command having knowledge of many places of the world] is proven by text [meaning, those texts with Mawlawi ‘Abd al-Sam Sahib presented]; the expansive knowledge of the Pride of the World [meaning, intrinsic knowledge because by corrupt analogy and pure reason only this is established, and this is understood from the context of Hazrat Mawlana’s discussion], which decisive text is there due to which all texts are rejected and one shirk is established? (Barāhīn e Qāṭi‘ah, p. 55)

One should also take note of the dishonesty of Abu Hasan’s translation where he says: “proving such encompassing knowledge of the earth for the Pride of the World”. The liar and fraud should be asked, where is the word “such” in the Urdu passage?

* See for examples:



UPDATE 2 (09/01/19):

Another point worth bearing in mind is that Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī’s discussion is in line with what the Ḥanafī Fuqahā’ (whom he quotes) had written. In fact, we find a striking parallel. It states in al-Fatāwā al-Bazzāziyyah:

A [man] weds [a woman] without witnesses, saying: “I make the Messenger of Allāh and Angels witness”, he has become a Kāfir, because he believes that the Messenger and Angel know the Ghayb, as distinguished from his saying: “I make the angel on the left shoulder and the angel on the right shoulder witness”, he would not become Kāfir, because they are aware [of that]. (al-Fatāwā al-Bazzāziyyah, 6:325)

In al-Muḥīṭ al-Burhānī (Idārat al-Qur’ān, 7:407), the same mas’alah is found ending with: “because they are aware of that as they are not absent from him.”

The pseudo-Ḥanafī Barelwī might question this and object: They have considered it kufr to ascribe this knowledge to the Messenger of Allāh but not to the Kirāman Kātibīn, whereas if ascribing it to one is kufr it should equally be kufr to ascribe it to the other!

But, of course, this is due to a (intentional or unintentional) misunderstanding. It is kufr (and shirk) when the knowledge is ascribed to an individual for whom it is not proven that he has acquired that knowledge (as it would entail ascribing intrinsic knowledge of ghayb for him). It is not kufr if the knowledge is ascribed to an individual for whom it is proven that he had acquired that knowledge.

In the same way Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī says to affirm such extensive unbeneficial knowledge of insignificant worldly matters to the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) based on a corrupt analogy is shirk, because it is to affirm intrinsic knowledge for him. It is not shirk when affirmed for Satan because it is proven that he is present at such places and witnessing.

See how the pseudo-Ḥanafī Barelwī has inverted reality, and has made what is not kufr kufr, and what is kufr (i.e. affirming detailed knowledge of all things in creation for the Prophet) an acceptable belief?

Note also that the pseudo-Sunnī Barelwī religion, which is based on hawā and not ittibā, will fluctuate from Barelwī to Barelwī. Thus, Abu Hasan Barelwī is supporting the idea that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) is not present at such filthy and dirty places of the world; however, Barelwī debater, Muḥammad ‘Umar Icharwī, states that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) is present in such filthy places, but we just shouldn’t say he is! (Miqyās e Ḥanafiyyat, p. 279, 282)