“That being [of the Prophet] Allāh Ta‘ālā has made without likeness and without equal. An equal to Ḥuḍūr Aqdas (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) is intrinsically impossible. It isn’t even within [Divine] Power. It cannot occur, neither within the earlier ones nor the later ones; neither from the prophets nor the messengers.” (Malfūẓāt A‘lā Ḥaḍrat, Dawat e Islāmī, p. 400)
See how he limits divine power to allow for this warped understanding. Any person with sense can see this is disrespectful to Allāh.
If Allāh has created something, He of course has the power to create a likeness of it. Whether He will do so or not is another matter.
The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) is a creation of Allāh. Hence, creating his likeness is within Allāh’s power. But of course, Allāh will never create such a likeness.
In several places, the Qur’ān argues for Allāh’s power over something based on His power over something similar to it. Like His saying: “[He] is the One Who sent down water in measure from the sky, and We revived thereby dead land – thus will you be brought forth.” (43:11) It goes against Qur’ānic logic to say that Allāh has the power to create the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) himself but not his likeness.
Only things that are intrinsically necessary (Allāh’s being and His attributes) or intrinsically impossible (e.g. a partner to Allāh) are excluded from divine power. Apart from that, everything is within divine power. Something that is like a possible entity is of course also only possible (otherwise, it would not be “like” it), not necessary or intrinsically impossible.
We have encountered Abu Hasan Barelwi of sunniport carelessly translating verses of Qur’ān and making horrible errors.* (In one instance, he translated shajara in verse 4:65 as “tree”!!!)
It turns out Abu Hasan was only following the footsteps of his arch-idol, the mujaddid of takfīr and ḍalalāh, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī (1856 – 1921).
Although there were already reputable Urdu translations of the Qur’ān available like that of Mawlānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānwī (completed in 1907) or of Mawlānā ‘Āshiq Ilāhī Mīruthī (completed in 1909 under the supervision of Shaykh al-Hind), Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī on the suggestion of his student Amjad ‘Alī A‘ẓamī thought he will try his hand at translating/interpreting the Qur’ān. (Some years later, in 1918, Shaykh al-Hind Mawlānā Maḥmūd Ḥasan Deobandī had completed his own widely-accepted Urdu translation of Qur’ān.)
Unlike other reputable translations, the intention of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s translation it seems was not to be faithful to the message of the Qur’ān, but to put across particular Barelwī ideas in the guise of a translation. (Tanqīd e Matīn, p. 17-20) Hence, there wasn’t any careful study and attention to detail that would be required before writing a translation. Shaykh al-Hind (1851 – 1920), for instance, completed his translation over a period of nearly 10 years (between 1909 and 1918), carefully consulting the earlier reputable Urdu translations (mainly, Mūḍiḥ al-Qur’ān of Shāh ‘Abdul Qādir Dehlawī) and tafsīrs, and having it checked by students and colleagues (like Shāh ‘Abd al-Raḥīm Rāipūrī). (For a detailed study, see Mawlānā Nūrul Ḥasan Kāndahlawī’s Shaykh al-Hind Mawlānā Maḥmūd Ḥasan Deobandī Ka Aṣl Muqaddama Tarjama e Qur’ān Majīd.)
On the other hand, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān spontaneously dictated his translation to his student in some free moments at the time of resting at midday or at night, without checking earlier translations or tafsīrs. (Sawāniḥ A’lā Hazrat, p. 367) Barelwīs treat this as a great achievement, claiming that his translation miraculously corresponded to well-known tafsīrs (a false claim). Muslims conscious of the great awe and respect due to the Qur’ān know, however, that such a method is reckless and a great sin.
The clearest example of the “fruits” of such recklessness is mistranslating/misinterpreting verses of Qur’ān. Three examples are given below.
“Say: ‘Shall I tell you of a reward with Allāh worse than that: that of those whom Allāh has cursed and [those] with whom He is angry and [those] from whom He has made monkeys and swine and [those who] worshipped false gods/satan? Such people are in a worse situation and further from the right way.’” (Qur’ān, 5:60)
As can be seen this verse lists 4 characteristics of people that are in a worse-off state:
Those who are cursed by Allāh
Those on whom is His anger
Those from whom He has made monkeys and swine
Those who worship false gods/Satan
But how does Aḥmad Riḍā Khān translate it? He translates it as follows:
“…Those on whom is Allāh’s curse, and on whom is His anger, and from whom He has made monkeys, swine and Satan-worshippers.”
The fourth category, those who worship Satan, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān has treated as a third object of the verb ja‘ala (He made). However, this is not possible grammatically. The last category here is ‘abada al-ṭāghūt ([those who] worship Satan/false gods), it is not a noun like qiradah and khanāzīr, so cannot be made an object of ja‘ala. It appears Aḥmad Riḍā Khān mistook ‘abada (worshipped) for abadata (worshippers).
This is a clear error. The meaning of the verse and Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s translation are both very different. The Qur’ān refers to those who worship Satan as a category of people in a worse-off state. But in Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s translation these people were made Satan-worshippers by Allāh Himself as punishment just as He made people into monkeys and swine!
This is not a minor mistranslation or mistake. But shows a daringness in casually interpreting the Qur’ān without prior study. And this is not the only example.
For comparison, Shaykh al-Hind’s translation is as follows:
As can be seen, he correctly translates the last phrase as “and those who worshipped Satan”.
“Any blessing you have is from Allāh. Then when harm touches you, it is to Him you cry for help.” (16:53)
Aḥmad Riḍā Khān translated this as follows:
As can be seen, he translated the last verb taj’arūn as “you take refuge in Him”. Yet this verb is from ju’ār, meaning to “cry out”, not from ijārah, to grant protection/refuge. Aḥmad Riḍā Khān apparently mistook the latter for the former. This is another glaring error. Even a perfunctory glance at the tafsīrs would have borne this out.
Shaykh al-Hind translates it correctly as follows:
Mistranslation Number Three
Allāh says in the Qur’ān:
ذو العرش المجيد
“Glorious Owner of the Throne.” (85:15)
Aḥmad Riḍā Khān mistranslates it as follows:
“Owner of the Glorious Throne.”
As can be seen, there is a ḍammah on the “majīd” (glorious) which means it is a characteristic of Owner (“dhū”), not of the throne (‘arsh). Aḥmad Riḍā Khān made it a characteristic of the Throne. This is another clear error.
Shaykh al-Hind’s translation is as follows:
“Owner of the Throne, One of High Status.”
The above is clear proof that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī didn’t even, at places, while dealing with the most sacred and perilous of tasks, glance at the tafsīrs. Barelwī biographers admit this, but perversely take pride in it.
Can a person who makes such reckless “translations” of verses of the Qur’ān be regarded as a pious Muslim authority? Let alone a mujaddid?! Of course not.
This is an objective test for any Barelwī claiming to be “sincere”, “neutral” and “objective” (like the liar Asrar Rashid). They cannot escape the fact that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān was careless and reckless in his translation of the Qur’ān, and given that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) has severely warned against such a practice and said such a person “should prepare his place in the Fire”, he is guilty of a grave and major sin. Can such a flagrant and incompetent fāsiq be taken as one’s guide and leader?
Abu Hasan Barelwī has written a response to the above.
On the third verse (dhu l-‘arsh al-majīdu), he points out that it is common knowledge that majīd can be read with both ḍamma and with kasra. According to the latter reading, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s translation will be correct. But it is also common knowledge that the reading Aḥmad Riḍā Khān was using is not the one with kasra but the one with ḍamma. And in fact, this is what is found in the Arabic script itself alongside which the “translation” is written! So are we to suppose, the Arabic can reflect one reading and the translation another?!
He further claims Mawlānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī in his translation treated majīd as an adjective of ‘arsh also, just like Aḥmad Riḍā Khān. But one can easily verify that Mawlānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī’s translation (‘arsh ka malik aur azmat wala hai) treats it as an attribute of Allāh:
On the second verse, he claims Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s translation is the intended meaning, not the direct or literal meaning, and thus his translation of taj’arūn as “seeking refuge” is fine. The literal meaning of taj’arūn is to cry out. Yes, it means to cry out taking refuge from Allāh. But there is no reason to translate it as “taking refuge from Allāh” when there would be no problem, linguistic or otherwise, to translate it as crying out. Unless of course Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s objective was to, na‘ūdhu billāh, improve on the Qur’ān (!), rather than simply convey accurately what it says. (For more examples of this, see Tanqīd e Matīn and other critiques of Kanz al-Īmān.) Of course, if there are idioms or expressions in the Qur’ān or linguistic barriers to a direct translation, a non-literal translation can be employed to help convey what the Qur’ān is saying. But here there is no need whatsoever to move away from a literal translation.
On the first verse, he claims Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s “and Satan-worshippers” is not a third object of ja’ala but a fourth characteristic of those who are in a worse-off state (as it should be). While this is a possible reading of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s translation, it is certainly not how a person who saw only the translation (with no background knowledge regarding the verse) will understand it. What is immediately understood from his translation is that “Satan-worshippers” is made an object of ja’ala just like monkeys and swine. Abu Hasan’s ta’wil is a bit of a stretch, so we are justified in regarding Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s rendition to be a mistranslation.
Abu Hasan the hypocrite claims this genuine critique is a result of “hate”. While we do not deny hating Aḥmad Riḍā Khān for his deviation and wickedness, there is no evidence that this hate has taken us out of fairness. The Qur’ān orders that despite the hate that we harbour for enemies this should not swerve us from justice.
But with Abu Hasan his hatred for the ulama of Deoband is undeniable. And it is also undeniable that his hatred has led him to lie against them.* These lies Abu Hasan has not accounted for, and by the looks of it never will. Hence he is not only a liar and a fraud, he is a hypocrite.
It should be noted that these are not the only examples of mistranslations or highly problematic translations in Kanzal-Īmān. Apart from Tanqīd e Matīn, one may consult the following books:
Update 2 (24/03/19)
In the interest of fairness, we acknowledge that Abu Hasan’s response to verse 1 and verse 2 above do have some merit. However, the objections also hold merit. Truly neutral readers can assess for themselves which perspective they deem stronger.
Note, however, there was no foul play in writing the above. Abu Hasan on the other hand has many documented distortions and lies – clear examples of foul play, incompetence and carelessness. Will he acknowledge them? Don’t count on it.
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.
The worst of the murtaddīn is the murtadd munāfiq –whose company is more harmful than the company of a thousand Kāfirs, since they teach Kufr while behaving as Muslims. Especially the Deobandī Wahhābīs, because they call themselves specifically Ahl al-Sunnah wa l Jamā‘ah, and behave as Ḥanafīs, behave as Chishtī Naqshbandīs. They pray and fast like we do; they read and teach our books; and they swear at Allāh and His Messenger.* They are the deadliest poison. (Aḥkām e Sharī‘at, p. 130)
* When quoting this passage, Mawlānā Sarfrāz Khān Ṣafdar comments on these words: “Allāh’s curse be on the liars.” (Rāh e Sunnat, p. 7)
Aḥmad Riḍā Khān also says:
The Tabarrā’ī Rāfiḍī, Deobandī Wahhābī, Ghayr Muqallid Wahhābī, Qādiyānī, Chakrālwī (“Ahl al-Qur’ān”), naturists (Sayyid Aḥmad Khān etc.) – the slaughtered meat of all of these is pure filth and carrion, and categorically ḥarām, no matter if they take the divine name a thousand times, and however pious and scrupulous their behaviour, because these are all Murtaddīn; and there is no slaughter for a Murtadd. (Aḥkām e Sharī‘at, p. 140)
Notice, he makes a blanket rule for all “Deobandīs”, grouping them with Qādiyānīs, Rāfiḍīs and Chakrālwīs, and makes no exception whatsoever.
Aḥmad Riḍā Khān further states:
Nadhīr Ḥusayn Dihlawī, Amīr Aḥmad Sahsawānī, Amīr Ḥasan Sahsawānī, Qāsim Nānotwī, Mirzā Ghulām Aḥmad Qādiyānī, Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī, Ashraf Alī Thānawī, and all their adherents, followers and devotees and those who praise them are by agreement of the notable scholars Kāfirs; and those who do not recognise them to be Kāfirs, and doubt their Kufr, are also without doubt Kāfirs, let alone regarding them to be leaders and masters! (‘Irfān e Sharī‘ah, p. 54)
In other words, even those who praise the elders of Deoband or regard them to be their teachers and leaders are also Kāfirs according to Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī!
He also states:
My approach is that [Shāh Ismā‘īl] is like Yazīd: if someone calls him Kāfir I wouldn’t stop him and I wouldn’t call him [this] myself. However, anyone who doubts the disbelief of Ghulām Aḥmad [Qādiyānī], Sayyid Aḥmad [Khān], Khalīl Aḥmad [Sahāranpūrī], Rashīd Aḥmad [Gangohī] and Ashraf ‘Alī [Thānawī] is himself a Kāfir. (Malfūẓāt A‘lā Ḥāḍrat, Da‘wat e Islāmī, p. 172)
Note, how he treats these senior Sunnī Ḥanafī imāms of the Deobandī tradition as being equal to the false prophet Ghulām Aḥmad Qādiyānī and the extreme modernist Sayyid Aḥmad Khān. And on what basis? For Mawlānā Rashīd Aḥmad Gangohī, based on a fatwā misattributed to him which he himself denied! For Mawlānā Qāsim Nānotwī, based on an assumption that his explanation of the title Khātam al-Nabiyyīn in Taḥdhīr al-Nās allows for new prophets to come, despite the fact that Mawlānā Qāsim Nānotwī explicitly states in Taḥdhīr al-Nās itself that this is not possible and if anyone claims that it is he is a Kāfir! For Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī and Mawlānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī, based on a clear misreading of their passages from Barāhīn e Qāṭiah and Ḥifẓ al-Imān respectively.
Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī refutes a false analogy which affirms greater knowledge for the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) in certain (unbeneficial) worldly matters to that of Satan and the Angel of Death. Aḥmad Riḍā Khān interpreted this as Mawlānā Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī declaring Satan as being more knowledgeable than the Prophet! Mawlānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī argued that if a person calls the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) ‘Alim al-Ghayb on account of partial knowledge of the unseen, then this is not a quality unique to the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) since partial knowledge of the unseen is also found in laymen, children, madmen and animals. Aḥmad Riḍā Khān interpreted this as Mawlānā Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī having equated prophetic knowledge to that of animals and madmen!
Based on these (deliberate) misreadings, he engaged in a campaign of mass/chain-takfīr, which makes Kāfirs of a significant population of the Muslims of India and beyond, numbering in the tens of millions if not in the hundreds of millions of Muslims. Many Barelwīs who would have at least momentarily experienced or even expressed doubts over Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s fatwās of Kufr on the elders of Deoband will according to his fatwā automatically become Kāfir and have to renew their īmān!
What can this mad takfīrism of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān be called? Insanity? Madness? Dajl? Shayṭāniyyah? Whatever it is, a mad takfīrī like Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī cannot be a pious Muslim authority, let alone a Mujaddid! He must either be an insane, raving lunatic, or a wicked shayṭānic dajjāl.
Once while Mawlānā Manẓur Nu‘mānī was in the company of Ḥakīm al-Ummat Ashraf ‘Alī Thānawī, the latter asked him: “You are well-read on Mawlawī Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Ṣāḥib’s books. What is your opinion – that which he has written about us and our Akābir, did he really misunderstand and understand it in that way, or did he knowingly make these false allegations?”
He further said: “I don’t understand how a person who has even a little īmān and fear of God can knowingly make such false allegations?”
Mawlānā Manẓur Nu‘mānī replied: “Ḥaḍrat, Allāh Ta’ālā knows the reality, but having read his books I reached the conclusion that he is not an ignoramus, he was very knowledgeable. Nor was he short of understanding or stupid, he was very smart and intelligent. So my heart can never accept that he misunderstood. If it was some stupid person or ignoramus, there might have been room for such speculation. My feeling is his mentality and attitude was just as the Qur’ān Majīd describes the scholars of Banū Isrā’īl.”
Ḥakīm al-Ummat said: “I would entertain the doubt that he misunderstood.”
After reporting this conversation, Mawlānā Manẓūr Nu‘mānī comments: “Had Ḥaḍrat (Allāh have mercy on him) seen his books, he would most probably not have entertained such a doubt.”