Opposition to Taqwiyat al-Īmān and the 1824/1240 Meeting at the Delhi Grand Masjid – Maulānā Nūrul Ḥasan Rāshid Kāndhlewī

December 10, 2019

Maulānā Nūrul Ḥasan Rāshid Kāndhlewī writes:

The very first to object [to Shāh Ismā‘īl Shahīd and Taqwiyat al-Īmān] was Maulānā Faḍl e Ḥaqq Khayrābādī. However, regarding this objection, and the subsequent discussions and events, there is a great blunder. Thus, it is felt to be necessary here to scrutinise and correct this very famous historical error, in fact misrepresentation.

It is commonly believed that:

“Ḥaḍrat Shāh Muḥammad Ismā‘īl’s greatest opponent was Maulānā Faḍl e Ḥaqq Khayrābādī. Maulānā Khayrābādī publicly opposed Shāh Shahīd. Khayrābādī even had debates or a debate with Shāh Shahīd. There was always argumentation between the two.”

However despite great popularity (and being repeated in almost fifty books), this is definitely an error and is baseless.

Ḥaḍrat Shāh Muḥammad Ismā‘īl (born 12 Rabī‘ al-Thānī, 1193 H) wrote his contentious work Radd al-Ishrāk in 1213 H, and Taqwiyat al-Īmān was written in Ramaḍān al-Mubārak 1233 (July 1818). Thereafter the movement of Sayyid Aḥmad Shahīd began. It is from this that the message and invitation of Taqwiyat al-Īmān became widespread, and spread throughout the entire country. Until the death of Ḥaḍrat Shāh ‘Abdul ‘Azīz no one sounded any opposition to Ḥaḍrat Shāh Shahīd and his ideas. 7 months after Shāh ‘Abdul ‘Azīz’s death (7 Shawwāl 1239, 6 June 1824), for the first time in 29 Rabī‘ al-Thānī 1240, several scholars of Delhi held a gathering in the Jāmi‘ Masjid of Delhi in which there was discussion and analysis of some of Shāh Muḥammad Ismā‘īl’s ideas.* Shāh Muḥammad Ismā‘īl and Maulānā Faḍl e Ḥaqq were both present on this occasion. In this gathering, Shāh Muḥammad Ismā‘īl announced: “Whoever has any objection or doubt over Taqwiyat al-Īmān, bring it before me and present it to me here so it can be answered.” However, Maulānā Khayrābādī remained completely silent. Maulānā Khayrābādī neither supported this disagreement, nor objected or raised any doubts concerning Taqwiyat al-Īmān.

6 months after the Jāmi‘ Masjid Delhi Dialogue (at the end of Shawwāl 1240, June 1825), Shāh Muḥammad Ismā‘īl had set off on the journey of Jihād from Delhi, which was Shāh Shahīd’s final journey from Delhi – and in fact, Hindustan. He never returned from this journey. However, all the way up to this time, no write-up was put together in refutation of or objection to Shāh Shahīd or Taqwiyat al-Īmān. Approximately 8 months after Shāh Muḥammad Ismā‘īl’s final departure from Delhi, in Jumāda ‘l-Ukhrā 1241 (Junuary/February 1826), Maulānā Faḍl e Ḥaqq wrote his first write-up or brief treatise in objecting to Taqwiyat al-Īmān: Taqrīr I‘tirāḍ bar Taqwiyat al-Īmān, in which, objecting to a simple passage of Taqwiyat al-Īmān**, he began a delicate academic and philosophical debate over Shafā‘ah and Imkān/Imtinā‘ al-Naẓīr.***

Sḥāh Muḥammad Ismā‘īl was staying at Sindh in company with the caravan of Mujāhidīn at the start of Dhu ‘l-Ḥijjah 1241 (July 1826), when in 10 Dhu ‘l-Ḥijjah he came across this treatise of Maulānā Khayrābādī. At this time, in that very sitting, Shāh Ismā‘īl took up his pen and wrote an answer. This is why Shāḥ Muḥammad Ismā‘īl’s work and answer is called Risālah Yak Rozī. Here Maulānā Khayrābādī’s treatise in refutation of Maulānā Shahīd was being publicised and there copies of the treatise Yak Rozī was shared widely.

Furthermore, the long effort and struggle, and mission which had started, against innovations and customs via the movement of Sayyid Aḥmad Shahīd, in support of it the scholars and students from the Waliyyullāh family put together a detailed fatwā or treatise. This treatise or fatwā was also widely read, and became very famous. Maulānā Khayrābādī did not dare to answer the treatise Yak Rozī, but Maulānā Khayrābādī wrote in response to this fatwā (apparently in Jumāda ‘l-Thānī, 1242, January 1827): Ibṭāl al-Ṭaghwā fī Taḥqīq al-Fatwā.

Ḥaḍrat Sayyid Aḥmad Barelwī and Shāh Muḥammad Ismā‘īl were martyred at Balakot in Dhu ‘l-Qa‘dah 1246 (8 May 1831), but until then Maulānā Khayrābādī did not write any other fatwā or any kind of write-up against Shāh Ismā‘īl. He also remained quiet after the martyrdom of Shāh Ismā‘īl. 24 to 25 years after this event, in 1270-73 (1855-57), Maulānā Hidāyat ‘Alī Jonpūrī, Maulānā Faḍl e Ḥaqq’s student, put together Imtinā‘ al-Naẓīr in response to another book by Maulānā Ḥaydar ‘Alī Tonkī, which has been attributed to Maulānā Faḍl e Ḥaqq, while it is not correct to attribute Imtinā‘ al-Naẓīr to Maulānā Khayrābādī. Imtinā‘ al-Naẓīr is Maulānā Jonpūrī’s book.

What actually happened is that the main person behind the commotion of inciting opposition to Shāḥ Muḥammad Ismā‘īl and Taqwiyat al-Īmān was Mawlawī Rajab ‘Alī of the Shī‘ah. Rajab ‘Alī was from the residents of Jagraon. He was appointed as an agent and spy for the English in Delhi. It is now fully confirmed and established that the person who caused most harm to the Mujāhidīn and Jihād movement in the 1857 movement of Delhi was this individual. He was the greatest traitor of that time and the greatest informant and agent of the English in Delhi. He is the one who blew up the Delhi arsenal; and he is the unfortunate one who set the trap for arresting Bahādur Shāh Ẓafar; and used Mirzā Ilāhī Bakhsh; and it was also his handiwork to raise commotion in opposition to Ḥaḍrat Shāh Muḥammad Ismā‘īl and Taqwiyat al-Īmān, and cause scholars of Delhi and of other sides to debate, and take this matter further. Although Maulānā Faḍl e Ḥaqq Khayrābādī had disagreement over Shāh Muḥammad Ismā‘īl’s ideas, he never came out into the field for this argumentation. [1]

[1] For historical investigation and academic proofs of all the abovementioned events, please await the writer’s Taqwiyat al-Īmān aur Shāh Muḥammad Ismā‘īl ke Khilāf barpa Shaurash Tārīkh wa Ḥaqīqat Āīneh Mein (The Commoition of Inciting Opposition to Shāḥ Muḥammad Ismā‘īl and Taqwiyat al-Īmān in Light of History and Reality), half of which or a little less has already been published in 15 issues of al-Furqān Lucknow’s journal (from July 1991 to December 1993).

(Ustāzul Kull Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Mamlūk al-‘Alī Nānotwī, p206-8)

* The main issue was over referring to practices like kissing the grave within the context of acts of shirk. Shāh Ismā‘īl Shahīd clarified that he did not mean to refer to such actions as major shirk, but as acts associated with shirk. Shortly after this meeting, in Jumāda ‘l-Ūlā of 1240, he wrote a fatwā clarifying exactly this (copies of which are available). A detailed report of the 1824 meeting (who was in attendance and the discussion that ensued) was written in Farsi at the time, a manuscript of which is available.

** The simple passage is as follows: “It is the nature of this King of Kings that in a single moment, had He so wished with one command of ‘Kun’, He would create thousands of prophets, saints, jinn and angels equal to Jibra’īl, upon him peace, and Muḥammad, Allāh bless him and grant him peace; and would turn the whole universe from the throne to the earth upside down and put another creation in its place.” (Taqwiyat al-Īmān, p44) It was said in the context of describing a mistaken conception of Shafā‘ah, and how Allāh has no need for His creation.

*** Muftī Ṣadr al-Dīn al-Dehlawī (1790 – 1868), an expert in the philosophical and rational sciences, wrote a treatise on Imkān al-Naẓīr in favour of Shāh Ismā‘īl Shahīd’s view and against Maulānā Faḍl e Ḥaqq Khayrābādī’s. This treatise was printed in the lifetime of Muftī Ṣadr al-Dīn al-Dehlawī, and a manuscript of it is also available. This is described in the following passage from a work of Maulānā Nūrul Ḥasan Kāndhlewī:

Mawlānā Mamlūk al-‘Alī Nānotwī (1789 – 1851), who had studied one lesson with Shāh ‘Abdul ‘Azīz Dehlawī, and learnt from his leading students, Mawlānā Rashīd al-Dīn Khān Kashmīrī Dehlawī & Muftī Ilāhī Bakhsh Kāndhlewī, was the greatest of the scholars of Delhi in his time from the Waliyyullāh tradition. He endorsed a treatise defending Shāh Ismā‘īl Shahīd on the topic of Shafā‘ah (intercession). The manuscript of this treatise is preserved, and described in Mawlānā Nūrul Ḥasan Kānhdlewī’s detailed biography of Mawlānā Mamlūk al-‘Alī. (Ustāzul Kull Ḥaḍrat Mawlānā Mamlūk al-‘Alī Nānotwī, p205-6)