Istighathah: Seeking aid from other than Allah

October 1, 2012

Du’a (supplication and invoking aid) is worship (‘ibadah). Allah Most High says in the Qur’an,

“And your Lord says, ‘Call upon Me; I will respond to you’. Indeed, those who disdain My worship will enter Hell [rendered] contemptible.” (Al-Ghafir, 60)

In this verse Allah has equated du’a to worship.

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) is reported to have said, “Du’a is worship, and then he recited the following verse of the Qur’an, ‘And your Lord says, Call upon Me; I will respond to you. Indeed, those who disdain My worship will enter Hell [rendered] contemptible’.” (Sunan Al-Tirmidhi, 2:173; Sunan Abi Dawud, 1:208; Sunan Ibn Majah, p.208; Musnad Tayalisi, p.108; Al-Mustadrak, p.491; Al-Adab al-Mufrad, p.105; Tafsir Ibn Kathir; under 40:60)

It also comes in another hadith, “Nothing is dearer to Allah than du’a.” (Al-Mustadrak, p.490; Al-Adab al-Mufrad, p.105) It is mentioned in another narration, “The noblest act of worship (‘ibadah) is du’a.” (Al-Adab al-Mufrad, p.105) The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “One who doesn’t call (yad’u) Allah, He gets angry with him.” (Al-Mustadrak, p.491) And it comes in another version, “Allah is angry with someone who does not ask (yus’al) of Him.” (Al-Mustadrak, p.491)

Yet in another narration it says, “Du’a is the weapon of the believer and the pillar of the religion.” (Al-Mustadrak, p.492 – Al-Hakim and Al-Dhahabi have classified this narration as authentic)

Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “The most excellent worship is du’a.” (Al-Mustadrak, p.491 – classified as authentic by Al-Hakim and Al-Dhahabi)

It is apparent from the clear verse of the Qur’an and authentic narrations mentioned above that to make du’a to the creation (i.e. istighathah) is not permissible, since to make du’a is worship and indeed worship is only the right of Allah. It is therefore clear that that Allah is the sole Being deserving of du’a and indeed all worship.

Thus the practice of istighathah – which is to call for such help from the creation, which is beyond their natural means – would be impermissible and a possible cause of shirk. And this is because asking such help from the creation, which is not in the ambit of natural means or proven through authentic texts, implicitly attributes such qualities to the creation that in reality solely belong to Allah.

‘Allamah Sarfaraz Khan Safdar (d. 1430H / may Allah have mercy on him) mentions that seeking help is of two types: (a) Within the means (ma taht al-asbab) and (b) beyond the means (ma fawq al-asbab).

Regarding the difference between help which is within the normal means and beyond normal means, he explains that while the first type is established through the Qur’an, hadith, the Companions (Sahabah) and the Pious Predecessors (Salaf), the second type has no basis in Islam and has been declared haram and shirk in Shari’ah by jurists.[1] The seeking of the latter type of help is only restricted to Allah. (Guldastah Tawhid, p.135. Also see his Tafsir lecture of Surah Fatihah)

Similarly, Shaykh Abu Bakr bin Muhammad ‘Ali Khawqir (d. 1349H / may Allah have mercy on him) writes, “Shirk is the belief that those besides Allah have an effect [ability] on things above the normal capabilities granted to them by Allah and also that something possesses a power which is beyond the capabilities of the normal creation.” (Ma la Budda Minhu fi Umur al-Din, p .11, from Tanqid-i-Matin, Sarfaraz Khan Safdar)

Shaykh Khawqir has thus shown that shirk is the belief that something other than Allah has an effect beyond that which Allah has granted him from the apparent means, and that something possesses a power outside the realm of the abilities of created beings.

In this article we will address the claim of some of those who practice istighathah that they do not intend to attribute independence or the status of godhead to saints but rather to Allah. We will show that this in reality is not much different than the mentality of the idolaters of Makkah. They too did not attribute independence or status of deity to their idols but rather used them as a means to gain closeness to Allah.

We will secondly demonstrate that such calling on the deceased for help implies several forms of shirk such as assuming that they are present and seeing (hadhir and nadhir), possess knowledge of the unseen (‘ilm al-ghayb), etc. – attributes that are unique to Allah and not established for anyone else. We will thirdly present the verdicts of some leading scholars on the practice of istighathah.

Lastly, we will conclude by exonerating Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir Jaylani from the claims of some that he permitted the practice of istighathah, and we will show that, to the contrary, he rather promulgated strict tawhid.

[1] Imam Shah Waliullah Muhaddith Dahlawi (d. 1174H / may Allah have mercy on him) has extensively refuted the practice of istighathah in his numerous works. He writes while distinguishing between ma taht al-asbab and ma fawq al-asbab, “He [Allah] is Everlasting, All-Hearing, All-Seeing;[2] He has no match and peer. He has no partner in necessary per se (wujub al-wujud) neither in deserving worship nor in creating and managing (tadbir), so none deserves worship, i.e. highest reverence, but He, and none cures an ill, supplies livelihood, removes distress, but He, in a sense that He addresses the thing with kun fayakun (Be! and it becomes). This is different than in the sense of usual causation (tasbib), as it is said that the physician cured the patient, the emir gave livelihood to the soldiers; so this is different though they are similar in wording.” (Tafhimat al-Ilahiyyah, 1:145)

‘Allamah Sarfaraz Khan Safdar writes in Tanqid-i-Matin bar Tafsir Na’im al-Din, p.25, while explaining the above quote, that it is clear that seeking outward help with means is lawful, as [is shown] when Sayyiduna Dhu ‘l-Qarnayn (may Allah be pleased with him) approached the place of the dam, he heard people complaining about the destruction by Gog and Magog and was requested to build a dam across the pass so that they could be protected against their plundering. They offered him financial help as well. Sayyiduna Dhu ‘l-Qarnayn said he did not need money; Allah had given him plenty. Rather he asked them to provide him with physical help. This is not the [type of] help that those who perform istighathah seek from the prophets, saints and martyrs, who are neither alive in this world nor near. He further says that it is not befitting for scholars to use such examples to prove istimdad since such examples involve asking for help from the living which is within the normal means of the creation.

Many among the proponents of calling the dead for help believe or unintentionally imply that the prophets and saints have the power of kun fayakun (Be! and it becomes) and ask them for help with this belief. Imam Shah Waliullah Dahlawi writes in refutation of these extremists, “Shirk is to affirm the special attributes of Allah (Exalted is He) for [those] beside Him, such as free-disposal (tasarruf) in the affairs of the universe with the intention expressed as kun fayakun… [The polytheists] used to ask those close (mutaqarribin) to Allah for help in important matters under the power (qudrah) of kun fayakun and the polytheists used to carve their images from stone, copper, glass, etc. and make the souls of the dead the focus of their deep attention.” (Al-Fawz al-Kabir fi-Usul al-Tafsir, p.3-4)

[2] Imam Ahmad bin Idris Shihab al-Din Qarafi al-Maliki (d. 684H / may Allah have mercy on him) has also refuted those Sufis who assign the power of kun fayakun to the creation. He writes, “The second type is that a person making du’a (supplication) is extremely stupid and daring, leading him to ask Allah to grant him special powers for running the universe which are exclusively under the power and will of Allah, such as creation, annihilation, and predestination. Common sense and logic indicate that it is impossible for these divine powers to be for anyone besides Allah. This means that such a request is in fact asking for partnership with Allah in his kingdom and this is akin to disbelief (kufr). Many ignorant Sufis have fallen into this trap and they claim that so-and-so was given the word ‘kun‘ (Be!) and they ask to be given this divine command, which Allah mentions in the Qur’an, ‘Our command for a matter when we will it is to say to it ‘be’ and it becomes’. They do not understand the meaning of this phrase in the speech of Allah and they also do not understand the meaning of this divine phrase being ‘given’ to someone, if that could be possible. This is a matter that is impossible to achieve according to the qualified scholars, let alone the concocting Sufis. This causes these Sufis to be destroyed in a way that they do not even realize. They believe that they are among those close to Allah, when in reality they are far from Him. May Allah save us from evil trials and those things that lead up to them. May Allah save us from ignorance and that which leads to it.” (Anwar al-Buruq fi Anwa’ al-Furuq, 4:446)

[3] It may be said that those who perform istighathah do not consider the power and ability of the saints from whom du’a is sought to be equal to Allah, but rather they believe that their ability is given to them by Allah. This claim is not sufficient to justify istighathah since the polytheists of Makkah also never held their deities as equal to Allah. They too believed that the power of their deities was bestowed to them by Allah.

Imam Fakhr al-Din al-Razi (d. 606H / may Allah have mercy on him) writes regarding this notion, “Know that there is no one in the whole universe who ascribes a partner with Allah who is at the same level with Allah in existence (wujud), power (qudrah), knowledge (‘ilm), or wisdom (hikmah). Not one person until today has been found [who believes that anyone is on the same level as Allah] except the Zoroastrians…” (Tafsir al-Kabir, 2:112, from Itmam al-Burhan fi Rad Tawdih al-Bayan, Sarfaraz Khan Safdar)

Imam Shah ‘Abd al-’Aziz Dahlawi (d. 1239H / may Allah have mercy on him) writes, “It should be kept in mind that there is not one person in the universe who associates anyone with Allah at the same level in existence (wujud), knowledge (‘ilm), power (qudrah), and wisdom (hikmah).” (Tasfir-i-’Azizi, p.162)

Imam Shah Waliullah Dahlawi writes in his magnum opus Hujjat Allah al-Balighah, chapter 74 titled “The explanation of what had been the condition of the People of Jahiliyyah which the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) reformed”, “Among the principles agreed upon among them [the people of the Ignorant Age] was the belief that God, may He be exalted, had no partner in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the substances in them, and that He had no partner in managing the great affairs and that no one could reject His order nor frustrate His decree once it had become settled and decided, and this is [proven by] His saying, may He be exalted, ‘If you asked them who created the heavens and the earth they would answer Allah’, [31:25], and His saying, ‘If God’s chastisement comes upon you, will you call upon any other than God, if you speak truly? No; upon Him you will call, and He will remove that for which you call upon Him if he wills, and you will forget whatever partners you associated with Him,’ [6:41-42], and His saying, ‘All upon whom you call for help lose their way except Allah.’ [That is, these others fail in times of crisis or disaster] but it was due to their deviance in religion that they held that there were personages among the angels and the sprits who could manage [the affairs of] the people of the earth, except for the major matters…”[3]

Shah Waliullah further writes about the beliefs of early polytheists in chapter 37 titled Tawhid, “[The second group] are polytheists… They also said that these beings [righteous servants of God] hear, see, intercede for their worshipers  manage their affairs, and give them help; and they carved stones in their names and made the stones a focus for directing their worship towards these beings.”[4]

Hafiz Ibn Kathir (d. 774H / may Allah have mercy on him) writes, “And yet, they have associated partners with Him in divinity (ilahiyyah), so they worshiped others with Him in spite of their admission that those whom they worshiped will not be able to create a thing, they do not own anything and do not domineer anything, but they believed that these idols take them closer to Him.” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 5:488)

‘Allamah Muhyi al-Din Shaykh Zadah (d. 951H / Allah have mercy on him) writes, “I.e. the idols are not equal to Allah, neither in reality which is obvious, nor according to their beliefs; since they believe that these [idols] are intermediaries taking them nearer to Allah as per their belief, not that they are adversary equals [to Allah].” (Hashiyyah ‘ala al-Baydawi, 1:383)

According to Islamic theologians, the polytheists of Makkah didn’t believe that idols were gods but merely referred to them as such. Imam al-Mutakallimin ‘Allamah Sayyid Sharif Jurjani al-Hanafi (d. 816H / may Allah have mercy on him) writes, “Know that there is no opposition regarding this issue except that of the sanawiyyah (Zoroastrian dualists), not the wasniyyah (idol-worshipers). Verily they [the polytheists] do not believe that there are two necessarily-existent deities, nor do they ascribe the attributes of divinity (ilahiyyah) to the idols even though they referred to them with the word ‘aalihah‘ (deities), rather they adopted them as statues of the Prophets or the pious or the angels or the celestial objects, and adopted revering them in a manner of worship, using them as a means of reaching the One who is actually Divine [Allah].” (Sharh al-Mawaqif, p.580)

[4] ‘Allamah ‘Abd al-Hayy Lakhnawi[5] (d. 1304H / may Allah have mercy on him) was asked, “What is the ruling regarding that person who thinks that saints know and hear the call from far and near and [he] seeks their help with the wording which are used for those present and make vows for them and says that my vow is for them?”

He replied, “The belief of this person is corrupt (fasid) and there is fear of disbelief (kufr) of that person because the hearing of saints from far is not proven [in Shari’ah]. And knowledge of all of the matters (juziyat) at all times is only specific to Allah Most High. It is stated in Fatawa Bazzaziyyah that whoever says that souls of the pious (mashayikh) are hadhir is a disbeliever (kafir), and it is written in the same book that whoever performed nikah by making Allah and His Messenger to be witnesses become kafir. [This is] because he assumed that the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) is knower of the unseen…” (Majmu’ah al-Fatawa, 1:46-47)

It was further asked, “It is the practice of the general public of this city that in the time of distress they call upon the prophets and saints for help (madad) from far, and believe that they are hadhir and nadhir, and when we call them they hear us and make du’a concerning our needs. Is this [type of istimdad] permitted or not?”

At this the reply came, “This type [of seeking aid] is not merely haram but also shirk as in this [asking for such help] is considered [i.e. implied] that those besides Allah have knowledge of the unseen (‘ilm al-ghayb) and this belief is manifest shirk. Because in Shari’ah, shirk is to associate anyone with Allah in His essence (dhat) and specific attributes (sifat), and knowledge of the unseen (‘ilm al-ghayb) is the specific attribute of Allah as it is mentioned in the books of ‘Aqa’id…” (Majmu’ah al-Fatawa, 1:45-46)

Another such query stated, “If a person believes that Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir Jaylani (may Allah have mercy on him) has the power to hear anyone who calls him from anywhere and turns his attention towards his [the caller’s] situation. How is this belief according to the principles of Shari’ah?”

The answer came, “This belief is not only against the ‘aqa‘id of the people of Islam but leads to shirk…” (Majmu’ah al-Fatawa, 1:73)

And he wrote in a reply to a question regarding seeking aid with the wording, “Ya Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir shayy’an lillah“,

“It is binding and necessary (wajib) to abstain from these sort of recitations. Firstly, [because] this recitation consist of the wording ‘shayy’an lillah‘ and certain jurists consider these wording disbelief (kufr)…

Secondly, such recitation consists of calling on the dead from a distance and it is not established from the Shari’ah that saints have the power to listen to a call from far distance. However, it is established [from Shari’ah] that the people of the grave hear the salam of the visitors to their graves. But to consider that anyone beside Allah is hadhir nadhir at all times and is aware of the evident and hidden, is shirk… And our ‘ulama have said that anyone who believes that the souls of the saints are hadhir and ‘alim (knowing), is a kafir. Although, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir Jaylani (may Allah have mercy on him) is one of the great luminaries of the Ummah al-Muhammadiyah (Allah bless him and give him peace) and his virtues and excellent qualities are innumerable, but it is not established that he hears the distressed caller from a distance. And to hold a belief that he is aware of his disciple’s affairs all the time and hear their calls, is shirk.” (Mujmu’ah al-Fatawa, 2:189-190)

[5] Hakim al-Ummah Mawlana Shah Ashraf ‘Ali Thanawi (d. 1362H / may Allah have mercy on him) writes in Bawadir al-Nawadir, p.706, his last book, “The detail [with regards to this issue] is that tawassul through a creation was explained in three ways: First is to make du’a and seek aid (istighathah) in the way that it is in the religions of the polytheists. This is forbidden by consensus (ijma’). As to whether it is manifest (jali) shirk or not, then its criterion is [that if] the person doing it has the belief that the person being called upon has istiqlal in bringing about an effect, then this is shirk that constitutes kufr…

And second is to request him [the person being called upon to make du’a to Allah], and this is permissible through those from whom it is possible to seek for du’a, but such possibility is not proven through any evidence for those who have passed away. So we shall restrict this type of tawassul to those who are alive.

And the third is to make du’a to Allah through the blessing (barakah) of an accepted (maqbul) creation and this is allowed according to the majority of scholars…”

From the above it is clear that according to Mawlana Thanawi istighathah from the creation is, at minimum, haram by consensus under all circumstances, and disbelief with the belief of istiqlal. It is a clear rebuttal of those circles who try in vain to highjack the verdicts of righteous scholars to suit their fancies.

Explaining istiqlal, ‘Allamah Sarfaraz Khan Safdar writes in Izalat al-Rayb ‘an ‘Aqidah ‘Ilm al-Ghayb from Fatawa Rashidiyyah, “Knowledge of the unseen sometimes is available to the prophets, it is also from the same kind, i.e. it is not derived from any power and ability gifted to these holy men, rather it is an effect of the exclusive attribute of Allah that He manifested there, like the movement of the pen is due to the movement of the writer.” (Fatawa Rashidiyyah, 3:23)

He adds from Fatawa Rashidiyyah, “As far as terms like ‘personal knowledge’ (‘ilm al-dhati) and ‘free choice’ (tasarruf istiqlal), etc. in relation to the disbelievers in the writings of scholars like Shah Waliullah Dahlawi and Shah ‘Abd al-’Aziz Dahlawi are concerned, this usage was to relay that the disbelievers used to establish the same power and choice (for the idols) through Allah which was the causative factor of their polytheism; otherwise the Arab polytheists believed that the idols and their attributes were created by Allah, and they were granted power and choice from Him, as we have elaborated before. As far as using the word ‘free choice’ is concerned it is obvious that the polytheists, due to their belief in the entrusting of power and choice, maintained that these acts of divine characteristic are included in actions and matters coming under one’s power, and that the self-determined actions of servants come under the regulation of freewill and thus they deserve praise and criticism, though all actions of servants are based upon the power gifted by Allah.” (Fatawa Rashidiyyah, 3:24)

‘Allamah Sarfaraz writes while explaining the above quotes, “It is very clear that by ‘personal’ and ‘independent’ it is meant that human beings have independent power on good and bad, belief and disbelief, obedience and disobedience, etc. on which they deserve praise and condemnation as well as reward and punishment. Likewise, the polytheists believed that Allah Most High grants attributes of ghayb (unseen) to some of his servants and they are independent in acting freely therein just like the self-determined actions (af’al ikhtiyariyyah).” (Izalat al-Rayb, p.33)

He further writes distinguishing between istiqlal and ghayr istiqlal, “By given (a’tai) and dependent (ghayr mustaqil), they mean that like mu’jizaat and karamaat, they need the power of Allah in partial matters as well; even in these matters they do not have such a power as they have in the normal actions of the servants (af’al ikhtiyariyyah). For example, a pen writes in the hand of a writer, but it requires the movement of the writer in writing each single word. In other words, it can be said that the writer has manifested his action of writing through the pen, not that the pen has got power of writing like a man; since a pen cannot be a writer unless it carries the human characteristics… Except human actions, since human beings have independent (mustaqil) and inherent power, though this power and choice is gifted by Allah.” (Izalat al-Rayb, p.34)

It is clear that mustaqil (istiqlal) is used in the same sense as normal everyday actions (af’al ikhtiyariyyah) while ghayr mustaqil for mu’jizaat and karamaat in the statements of scholars.

Some circles, in desperation, use poetry as their last resort to prove or disprove ‘aqa‘id. Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanawi was asked about a qasidah by Mawlana Ilahi Bakhsh Kandhalwi (d. 1245H / may Allah have mercy on him), produced in the book Shiyam al-Habib fi Zikr Khasa’is al-Habib, which innovators use to prove istimdad, etc. Mawlana Thanwi replied about this notion, “[Uttering such statements] with the intention of isti’anat and istighathah or with the belief of hadhir nadhir is impermissible. And without any of these [above mentioned] beliefs if it is solely to display one’s desire and delight it is permissible. This permissibility is granted because the purpose of reading poetry is usually to display one’s desire and delight. However, in places where things are seen contrary to it, this permissibility will cease.” (Imdad al-Fatawa, 5:385)

[6] Mufti Muhammad Shafi’ (d. 1396H / may Allah have mercy on him) has refuted the practice of seeking aid from the creation at numerous places in his marvelous tafsir, Ma’arif al-Qur’an. He has equated istighathah with prostrating (sajdah) to the creation. Under the verse – “And that masajid (mosques) belong to Allah; so, do not invoke anyone along with Allah.” (72:18) – he writes, “And therefore we are not permitted to call on anyone for help beside Allah, like the Jews and Christians [who] commit shirk in their places of worship… The word masajid could also have another sense. It could be the plural of masjad, with the letter jim carrying fath, in which case it would be masdar mimi (a type of infinitive) and means ‘to prostrate or prostration’. The verse in this sense would signify that worship is reserved exclusively for Allah. It is not permitted to prostrate to anyone, and if he calls on anyone else besides Allah for help (i’anat), it is as though he is prostrating to him which must be avoided.”

[7] ‘Allamah Ahmad bin ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Rumi (d. 1041H / may Allah have mercy on him), an erudite scholar from the people of Akhisar in present-day Turkey, also addressed this issue in Majalis al-Abrar wa Masalik al-Akhyar.[6] He writes in chapter three concerning how Satan tricks those who ask the creation for help, “…And there are those people who perform istighathah from the creation, regardless of whether they are alive or dead, Muslim or non-Muslim. And Satan takes the form of the person whose help has been sought and fulfills the need of the person who has sought help. So, these Muslims think that Satan is the same person who they called for help. However, it is not as they believe. In reality, it is Satan who misguides them when they assign a partner to Allah. For, Satan leads astray the children of Adam (may the peace of Allah be upon him) according to his ability. So, when Satan helps them according to their needs, he is harming them much more than he can benefit them. Hence, that person who is a Muslim, when he seeks aid from those mashayikh who he believes in, Satan comes to him in the shape of that shaykh because Satan often takes the forms of the pious but he does not have the power to take the form of the Prophet of the Cherisher of the Worlds (Allah bless him and give him peace). Then, indeed that shaykh whose help has been sought, if he is from among those of knowledge then the Satan will not inform him of the saying of his companions who sought his help. And if he is from those who have no knowledge he informs him [the shaykh] of what they said and he [Satan] relays to them the shaykh’s speech. So those ignorant people think that indeed the shaykh has heard their voices and answered them in spite of the long distance, whereas it is not the case. This is only done through the medium of Satan. And it has been narrated from some mashayikh who have experienced such [events] through unveiling (kashf) and mukhatabah, they say that: ‘I see something shiny like water or glass, and in it that news which I seek appears and so I inform people of it. And through it the speech of those who seek my aid from my companions reaches me and so I answer them and my response reaches them’.

And these types of things of the extraordinary (khawariq) happen to many of the mashayikh who do not know the Qur’an and Sunnah, and do not act upon them. For indeed, Satan plays with people a lot and shows them things that are false in the appearance of the truth. So, he who has the insight (basirah) of the realities of faith (iman) and knows the Shari’ah of Islam, he knows that it is the deception of the Satan and he seeks aid with Allah Most High from him.” (Majalis al-Abrar wa Masalik al-Akhyar, p.24)

[8] ‘Allamah Muhammad ibn Muflih al-Maqdisi (d. 762H) in Al-Furu’, 6:165, and ‘Allamah ‘Ala al-Din al-Mardawi (d. 885H / may Allah have mercy on them) write in Al-Insaf, in the chapter “Ruling of the Apostate”, “He said: Or he made between him and Allah intermediaries on whom he places his trust, to whom he supplicates (yad’u) and asks for help. While some said: Or he prostrated before the sun or the moon.”

[9] ‘Allamah Sharf al-Din al-Hijawi (d. 960H / may Allah have mercy on him) stated in his book Al-Iqna‘, 4:285, in the chapter ‘Ruling of the Apostate’, “The shaykh said: [The ruling of apostasy is given towards one who] has an aversion towards the Messenger or what he came with, according to consensus. He added: or he took intermediaries between himself and Allah, relying on them and supplicating to them, according to consensus. Or, he prostrated before idols or the sun or the moon.”

[10] ‘Allamah Khayr al-Din Sayyid Nu’man Alusi (d. 1317H) ibn Sayyid Shihab al-Din Mahmud Alusi al-Hanafi (d. 1270H / may Allah have mercy on them) has quoted Shaykh Muhammad Amin al-Suwaydi al-Shafi’i (d. 1246H) on the prohibition of istighathah. Shaykh Amin’s father, Mulla ‘Ali al-Suwaydi (d. 1237H / may Allah have mercy on them), was the teacher of the author of Ruh al-Ma’ani. He states in Jala’ al-’Aynayn fi Muhakamat al-Ahmadayn,[7] “Shaykh Muhammad Amin al-Suwaydi al-Shafi’i stated: None can regard it lawful except one who is ignorant of the traditions of the Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace). This was the reason that seeking help from the dead spread among the people during times of trouble and discord. They beseech the dead and supplicate to them, as if what they do with them is greater than their worship of Allah and their belief in the Lord of the Heavens.”

[11] Dr. Wahbah Mustafa al-Zuhayli, a contemporary Syrian Shafi’i Ash’ari scholar, was asked, “What is the ruling regarding istighathah (calling for assistance) that [some] Naqshbandis engage in after completing al-rabitah with the wording, ‘Oh my teachers extend your aid towards us’ and ‘Oh my shaykhs, help us’ and ‘Oh my masters, help us’ and ‘Oh my guides, help us’?”

He replied, “These types of istighathah, in their apparent meanings, are haram, because they amount to seeking help from other than Allah, and help (madad) is granted by Allah alone, although the intercession (tawassul) of other than Allah from amongst the prophets and righteous people is correct according to Ahl al-Sunnah…”[8]

He further answered in a reply to an objection on visiting the graves, “Visiting graves is licit according to the wording of the hadith ‘alaa fazuruhaa’, and there is no connection to evil in that, because we visit graves as an admonishment and a lesson, we do not seek anything except from Allah, and we do not draw near to shirk, even by a hair-length.”[9]

[12] Shaykh Wahbi ibn Sulayman al-Ghawji Albani, another contemporary Ash’ari scholar, writes, “After this introduction I want to mention some of the bid’ahs upon which the ‘ulama and propagators of the religion need to agree as being prohibited since these are blameworthy innovations concerning which there cannot be silence: … (8) “Of the bid’ah is that which some of the ignorant people do when visiting the grave: They ask the dead to cure them of their illnesses and to fulfill their needs. They tie strings of material to the material of the graves of saints and pious people, with the intention of making barren women fall pregnant or that an estranged husband should return to his wife and love her again, and other examples like this. But if these ignorant people were to be asked in a mild tone: ‘Do they really believe that a pious man has power over anything after he has returned to the Mercy of Allah?!’ The answer to them is: ‘No, we believe that nobody else besides Allah Most High causes any real benefit or harm – none being able to cause such in their life or after their death. But this pious man is blessed, in that he has an honorable position in the sight of Allah and we are asking him because of that’. The truth is with those who teach and say to them: ‘Ask Allah the One. And it is acceptable if you ask Allah through the piety of that Friend of Allah (wali), or through the religious uprightness of the devout pious man that Allah fulfills your needs. By the Will of Allah they will return to the lawful commands. They are thus being returned to something permissible, and they will be so returned, InshAllah.”[10]

[13] Sayyid al-Ta’ifah Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jaylani (d. 561H / may Allah have mercy on him) said, “Follow [the Qur’an and Sunnah] and do not indulge in innovation (bid’ah). Remain in conformity and do not disagree. Remain obedient and not be disobedient. Be sincere and do not commit shirk. Declare Allah Most High to be One, and do not leave His door. Ask Him and do not ask anyone apart from Him. Seek aid from Him and do not seek aid from anyone apart from Him. Rely on Him and do not rely on anyone apart from Him.” (Al-Fath al-Rabbani, p.313)

And he further writes, “You must carry out His commandments, observe His prohibition, comply with His decree, and keep your outer and inner calmly speechless in His presence, then you will experience what is good in this world and the hereafter. Do not ask creatures for anything for they are weak and poor, incapable of bringing harm or benefit to themselves or anyone else.” (Al-Fath al-Rabbani, p.325)

When Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jaylani was in the throes of the illness in which he died, he gave the following advice to his son ‘Abd al-Wahhab, “… Do not rely on anyone but Him, address all your requests to Him (Exalted is He), and put your trust in no one other than Allah (Glory be to Him). Affirm His Oneness. All is contained within the affirmation of His Oneness.” (Futuh al-Ghayb, p.185)

Some circles have brought forward a statement attributed to Shaykh al-Jaylani from a book titled Bahjat al-Asrar in support of istighathah. However, this particular quote attributed to Shaykh al-Jaylani is contrary to what we find in his books. Shaykh al-Jaylani never endorsed istighathah as is evident from his books from which the above mentioned quotes have been produced. Furthermore, Bahjat al-Asrar has been declared unreliable by senior scholars.

For example, Imam Shams al-Din al-Dhahabi (d. 748H / may Allah have mercy on him), the great master in the science of analyzing the reliability of narrators (rijal), writes regarding the author of Bahjat al-Asrar, “He had great love for Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jaylani. He compiled events of his life and his virtues in about three volumes and wrote in it all narrations from various people, both worthy and unworthy. Thereby, he spread many false stories about him.” (Ma’rifat al-Qurra’ al-Kibar, p.721)

Hafiz Shams al-Din Muhammad Jaz’ari al-Shafi’i (d. 833H / may Allah have mercy on him) has also brought forward this quote of Imam al-Dhahabi in his Tabaqat al-Qurra’, 1:261.

Hafiz Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali (d. 795H / may Allah have mercy on him) writes, “It [the book Bahjat al-Asrar] deals with the life-events and merits (manaqib) of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir Jaylani in three volumes. He has filled it with everything, big and small. It is sufficient for one to be called a liar when he narrates everything he hears. I have seen a portion of this book and my heart does not feel secure in accepting or relying on anything in it, or relating anything from it, except that which is famous and well-known from other books, because of an excess of narrating from unknown individuals, deviations, major errors, [unfounded] claims, and false speech, such that it cannot be considered, nor is it appropriate to attribute such things to Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jaylani.” (Tabaqat al-Hanabilah, 2:194)

The historian Khayr al-Din Zirikli (d. 1396H) quotes a verdict of Hafiz Ibn Hajr al-’Asqalani (d. 852H / may Allah have mercy on them) regarding this book, “Ibn Hajr said that many strange and odd stories are mentioned in it by him [the author] and many people have objected [criticized] to many chains of narration and stories narrated in it.” (Al-A’lam, 5:34) This quote is mentioned in Al-Durar al-Kaminah fi A’yan al-Mi‘a al-Thaminah, 3:142, of Hafiz Ibn Hajr.

‘Allamah Zayn al-Din ibn al-Wardi al-Shafi’i (d. 749H / may Allah have mercy on him) said, “Verily, there are many incorrect things and great exaggerations in this book [Bahjat al-Asrar] concerning the status of ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jaylani that is only appropriate for divinity (rububiyyah).” (Kashf al-Zunun, 1:25)

Shaykh Sayyid Muhammad Abu ‘l-Huda ibn Wadi al-Sayadi al-Rifa’i[11] (d. 1328H / may Allah have mercy on him) writes regarding Bahjat al-Asrar, “There are many things written in the above mentioned book, Al-Bahjat, attributing which to Shaykh [‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jaylani] al-Gawth [al-A’zam], may he enjoy the pleasure of Allah, is incorrect. Many stories and untrue things were spread on his behalf. And numerous astonishing sayings were transmitted from a group of elders. Some defiant and bold people – and Allah’s refuge is sought – even fabricated many false traditions and attributed them to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace).” (Tariqah Rifa’iyyah, p.16)

He further writes, “As for the stories, words, and fabricated traditions written in the book named Bahjat al-Asrar by [Abu ‘l-Hasan ‘Ali] Al-Shattanawfi (d. 713H) regarding the merits of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir, may Allah sanctify his pure secret, the elders have raised objections to these [stories], some of whom have accused Al-Shattanawfi  of lying and opportunism. Amongst them is Hafiz Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, may Allah bless his soul, as is mentioned in Tabaqat al-Hanabilah under the biography of Qutb al-Jili, may Allah benefit us with his assistance and knowledge, while some others said that he spread many stories, and they seem to have attributed to him stupidity and accepting [both] that which is accurate and that which is not.” (Tariqah Rifa’iyyah, p.59)


[1] This has also been elucidated by many scholars, such as Shaykh Sun’allah al-Halabi Hanafi (d. 1120H), Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah (d. 1417H), Shaykh al-Qur’an Mawlana Husayn ‘Ali Wanbacharan al-Punjabi (d. 1363H), ‘Allamah Zafar Ahmad ‘Uthmani (d. 1394H), Mawlana Sayyid Murtada Hasan Chandpuri (d. 1370H), Hafiz al-Hadith Mawlana ‘Abdullah Darkhawasti (d. 1994AD), Shaykh Sayyid Abu ‘l-Hasan ‘Ali Nadwi (d. 1420H), Mufti Sa’id Ahmad Palanpuri, and Mufti Zar Wali Khan (may Allah have mercy on them), just to name a few. [↩]

[2] The Grand Mufti of Hind Mufti Muhammad Kifayatullah al-Dahlawi (d. 1372H / may Allah have mercy on him) writes regarding Shirk fi ‘l-’Ilm and Shirk fi ‘l-Sam‘ wa ‘l-Basr, “To attribute Allah’s power of knowledge to others. For example, to say that a prophet or a pious man has the knowledge of the unseen, knows everything, is aware of all of our affairs, or can tell what is happening far and near; all this is Shirk fi ‘l-’Ilm. Shirk fi ‘l-Sam‘ wa ‘l-Basr is to attribute Allah’s powers of seeing and hearing to others. For example, to believe that a certain prophet or a pious person could hear things far and near, or could see all of our acts.” (Ta’lim al-Islam, 4:15) [↩]

[3] Quote taken with permission from the English translation of Hujjat Allah al-Balighah by Marica K.Hermansen. [↩]

[4] Ibid [↩]

[5] Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah writes, “Imam Muhammad Zahid al-Kawthari would always recommend and advocate the works of Imam Lakhnawi.” And Shaykh Kawthari himself said, “Shaykh Muhammad ‘Abd al-Hayy al-Lakhnawi was the most erudite of his era in traditions pretaining to judicial rulings.” (Bid’ah and the Salaf’s Worship, p.xvi) [↩]

[6] Imam Shah ‘Abd al-’Aziz Dahlawi praised Majalis al-Abrar in these words, “The book, Majalis al-Abrar, includes much beneficial discourses regarding the secrets of Islamic law, fiqh, suluk, refutation of bid’ah and reprehensible customs. We have no knowledge of the author in terms of his piety, godliness, depth in the sciences of Shari’ah, except that which this book reveals regarding him.” (Mu’jam al-Matbu’at al-’Arabiyyah, 1:388) And ‘Allamah ‘Abd al-Hayy Lakhnawi writes regarding Majalis al-Abrar, “And it is an excellent and reliable book.” (Iqamah al-Hujjah, p.19) [↩]

[7] Imam Sayyid Anwar Shah Kashmiri (d. 1352H / may Allah have mercy on him) mentioned that one of his hadith teachers was Shaykh Muhaddith Muhammad Ishaq Kashmiri (d. 1322H / may Allah have mercy on him) who is a student of Khayr al-Din Sayyid Nu’man Alusi, and he in turn of his father the author of Ruh al-Ma‘ani. Imam Kashmiri mentioned that Shaykh Nu’man Alusi is the author of many valuable books like Jala’ al-’Aynayn fi Muhakamat al-Ahmadayn and Al-Jawab al-Fasih li ma lafaqqah ‘Abd al-Masih. (Malfuzat Muhaddith Kashmiri, p.334) [↩]

[8] See fatwa of Dr. Zuhayli [↩]

[9] See fatwa of Dr. Zuhayli [↩]

[10] A guiding, knowledgeable word regarding bid`ah and its rulings by Shaykh Wahbi Sulayman al-Ghawiji, translated by IPSA students under the guidance of Shaykh Mahdi Hendricks. [↩]

[11] It says in Al-A’lam, 6:94, regarding Shaykh al-Sayadi al-Husayni, “He is the most famous of all scholars in his age, born in Khan Shaykhun (in the district of al-Ma’arrah) and educated at Aleppo and there he was with entrusted the responsibility of the Association of Ashraf. Later, he stayed at Astanah (Istanbul) and came in contact with the Ottoman Sultan ‘Abd al-Hamid II, who gave him the post of Mashayikhat al-Mashayikh. He won his confidence and became one of his most trusted men and continued serving this post for around thirty years…” [↩]


Examining the Belief that the Prophet (upon him be peace) is Omnipresent

April 17, 2012

Compiled by Saad Khan

[Translator’s foreword: Considering the prophets and saints (awliya) omnipresent (hadir and nadir) is a belief held by some of the Ahl al-Bi‘dah (people of innovation). A group amongst them believes that the souls of the prophets and saints are present everywhere and are aware of everything that occurs in this world. According to some others, the meaning of hadir and nadir is that a spiritually strong person sees the entire world in the way he sees the palm of his hand, and hears voices from both far and near, or travels the entire world in an instant and assists those with needs over thousands of miles. (See Ja’ al-Haq, ch: Hadir wa Nadir ki Bahth by Mufti Ahmad Yar Khan Barelwi).]

The presenting of deeds to the Prophet (upon him be peace)

The belief of hadir and nadir should not be confused with the concept of deeds being presented to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). Firstly, this presenting of deeds to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) consists of summarized knowledge and is not all-encompassing. Imam Sayyid Anwar Shah Kashmiri[1] (d.1352 AH) writes, “Certainly, the presentation is like the presenting of the names (asma‘) upon the angels; not all-encompassing knowledge (al-‘ilm al-muhit).” (‘Aqidat al-Islam, p.11)

Imam Kashmiri writes in another place, “His saying, ‘so, when the Prophet’s (Allah bless him and give him peace) eyes shed tears,’ and the reason for crying was mentioned earlier: He said, ‘How can I be a witness for them when I cannot see them?’ So it was said: ‘Surely, deeds will be presented to you’. And the presentation is ijmali (summarized) knowledge.” (Fayd al-Bari Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari, 6:458).

The angels convey the deeds to the Prophet (upon him be peace)

Sayyid Ahmad al-Barzanji al-Shafi’i (d.1337 AH) writes in Ghayat al-Ma’mul fi ‘Ilm al-Ghayb al-Rasul:

“Bakr bin ‘Abdullah al-Muzani said that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, ‘My life is better for you; you face new things and they are resolved. When I die, my death will be better for you; your deeds will be presented to me. So, if I see good, I shall praise Allah. And if I see anything otherwise, then I shall seek forgiveness for you from Allah.’

He [Imam al-Subki] then mentioned more hadiths after this, all of which prove that the angels present the Salat and Salam of his Ummah to him. He then said after this: ‘Our purpose in writing all these hadiths is to illustrate the [concept of] ‘presenting’ to the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) and this implies the conveyance of the angels to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace)…’

Hence, these hadiths that Imam Taj al-Din al-Subki has mentioned indicate that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) is neither informed of the Salat and Salam of that person who is away from his noble grave nor the deeds of his Ummah, but instead they are conveyed to him by the angels entrusted with this task.

As a result, if the situation was as he [referring to Ahmad Rada Khan Barelwi] has thought that the knowledge of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) is encompassing all of ‘what was and what shall be’ (ma kana wa ma yakun) — including all details of minute particulars (juziyyat) and entireties (kulliyyat) — then his knowledge of that would not be dependent on the angels’ conveyance [of that knowledge] to him because the above mentioned [claim of] encompassing [knowledge] would require that he (Allah bless him and give him peace) is aware that such and such a person is, for example, offering prayers and sending salutations on him at such and such time, and that such and such person is doing such a good or bad deed at such and such time. If this was the case, then what need would there be for the conveyance of the angels, which has been explicitly stated in the above mentioned hadiths?” (Ghayat al-Ma’mul fi ‘Ilm al-Ghayb al-Rasul, p.15-16)

A person cannot be present in multiple places at a single time

Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali writes in Al-Mustasfa min ‘Ilm al-Usul while defining the self-evident truths (badhiyyat):

“First, the self-evident truths, i.e., the purely rational matters which the intellect (‘aql) alone has access to, without the help of any sense or imagination disposing [one] to accept it, like man’s knowledge of his own existence, and that one [thing] cannot be pre-eternal (qadim) and temporal (hadith), and that if one of two antitheses is confirmed the second will automatically be proven false, and that two is more than one, etc.

These matters were deeply rooted in the intellect ever since its existence, such that a person of intellect assumes that he had always known them, and he does not know when they were renewed. This knowledge does not depend on anything besides the existence of intellect.” (p.36)

Imam al-Ghazali then goes on to list a few more of these self-evident truths:

“One person cannot be in two places, and one thing cannot be pre-eternal and temporal, existent and non-existent, and in motion and motionless simultaneously.” (p.35, 38)

Prophets and saints are seen in multiple places through a likeness of their souls

‘Allamah Sarfraz Khan Safdar writes in Itmam al-Burhan fi Radd Tawdih al-Bayan that being able to see the prophets and saints in multiple places and in a waking state falls under the concept of [seeing a] mithal (likeness). Allah creates a mithal of the souls and this is what people witness.

Shaykh Abu Muhammad Tahir ibn Ahmad al-Qazwini (d.756 AH) quotes Imam al-Ghazali as mentioned by Shaykh ‘Abd al-Wahhab Sha‘rani (d.772 AH) in Al-Yawaqit wa ‘l-Jawahir, 1:132: “Imam Ghazali would say: ‘Whoever saw the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace), he did not see his real form preserved in the blessed tomb of Madinah. He saw only his image (mithal), not his form.”

Shaykh ‘Abd al-Wahhab Sha‘rani also quotes Shaykh Muhammad al-Shadhili al-Maghribi (d.656 AH) in Al-Yawaqit wa ‘l-Jawahir, 1:93: “Thereupon, he does not see him (Allah bless him and give him peace) but through his soul which assumes the representation of forms without the preoccupation of his blessed essence and its advent from the intermediary realm (barzakh) to the place of the viewer. This is due to its [i.e. the essence’s] nobility and purity from the obligation of advent. This is the manifest truth.”

‘Allamah Shabbir Ahmad ‘Uthmani (d. 1369 AH) quotes ‘Allamah Ibn Munayyar al-Iskandari al-Maliki (d.735 AH), the famous commentator of Sahih al-Bukhari, as follows: “Allah creates a mithal of his soul so it is seen in wakefulness as it is seen in sleep.” (Fath al-Mulhim, 1:330)

‘Allamah Shihab al-Din Qastallani al-Shafi’i (d.923 AH) writes, “So the figure he saw is neither the soul of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) nor his form, rather it is a mithal of him upon verification.”  (Al-Mawahib al-Laduniyyah, 5:293)

Shaykh ‘Abd al-Haq al-Muhaddith al-Dahlawi (d.1052AH) explains further, “And seeing the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) after his demise is through a mithal, so he is seen in dreams and appears in a wakeful state too. The holy essence that is living and rests in the grave in Madinah can take the form of an image and appear simultaneously in various places to the masses in dreams and to the elite in a wakeful state.” (Madarij al-Nabuwwah from Barahin al-Qati’ah, p.204)

Shaykh ‘Abd al-Haq writes in the explanation of the following hadith – ‘Whoever saw me in a dream indeed he saw the truth’ – “So what is seen is neither his soul nor his blessed body [that is] preserved in Madinah. The presence of an individual at a particular place at one time with several qualities and various forms is unimaginable except for transformation into a mithal. So what is seen in dreams is the mithal (likeness) of his holy soul, which is the truth, and there is no room for denial.” (Ashi’ath al-Lam’at, p.683)

Shaykh Ahmad ibn ‘Abd al-Ahad al-Sirhindi (d.1024 AH) – famously known as Mujaddid al-Alf al-Thani – explains, “At times it happens that people report an extraordinary event (khawariq) from a saint (wali) when he himself is not aware at all of this event. And those saints who are favored with knowledge and inspiration (kashf), it is possible that they are not aware of some of their own extraordinary feats (khawariq). Instead, a likeness of their image appears at various locations, having crossed long distances, and exhibits wonderful acts and unusual conditions; while the owners of those forms remain wholly unaware of their resemblances

The act is only from Him and [everything] else is a locus of manifestation.

My revered master and direction [Khawaja Baqi Billah – may his secret be sanctified] mentioned that a certain saint used to say that how strange it is that people from all around visit and some say they saw me in Makkah during the Hajj season and performed Hajj along with me. And some say they saw me in Baghdad and they express their friendship with me; when I had not left my house at all, nor had I seen such people before. What a great accusation they falsely lay against me!” (Maktubat Imam Rabbani, 1:468)

Hakim al-Ummah Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanawi (d.1362 AH) mentions in Nashr al-Tib (p.50) that the blessed body stays in inside the grave and what is seen in other places is a mithal (likeness) of the soul. Shaykh Muhammad bin Sayyid Darwaysh (d.1276 AH), a student of ‘Allamah Ibn ‘Abidin (d.1252 AH), has also mentioned the same in Isna al-Matalib (p.299). ((Itmam al-Burhan fi Radd Tawdih al-Bayan, 4:46-50))

Fatwas on the issue by numerous jurists

[Translator: According to the scholars of Ahl al-Sunnah wa ‘l-Jama‘ah, it is the sole attribute of Allah Most High to be aware of everything that occurs in the world at all times. This has been sufficiently mentioned in the books of fatwa (legal verdicts). Several of these fatwas are produced below.]

[1] Imam ‘Abd al-Rashid Zahir al-Din al-Walwaliji (d.540 AH) writes in Fatawa Walwalijiyyah, “A man performed nikah (marriage) with a woman and the witnesses were not present, [and] he said to the woman: ‘We make Allah and his Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) our witnesses’. This individual will become a disbeliever (kafir). This is because he held the belief that the Messenger of Allah has knowledge of the unseen (‘ilm al-ghayb). Since the one who does not have knowledge [of this nikah], how can he become a witness? The person who has this belief is a disbeliever.” (Fatawa Walwalijiyyah, 5:422) ((Taken from Izalat al-Rayb, p.443))

Mufti Husain Kadodia informed us that Imam al-Walwaliji states that this verdict initially came from Imam Abu ‘l-Qasim al-Saffar (d.326 AH). And that ‘Allamah ‘Abd al-Hayy Lakhnawi (d.1304 AH) mentions that Imam Abu ‘l-Qasim al-Saffar studied under Nusayr ibn Yahya, (d.268 AH) who studied under Muhammad ibn Sama’ah, who studied directly from Imam Abu Yusuf (d.181 AH). He was a senior imam, to whom students would travel to Balkh, Afghanistan. From this we learn that Imam Abu ‘l-Qasim al-Saffar was a great-grand student of Imam Abu Yusuf and had only three links between him and Imam Abu Hanifah (d.150 AH). This verdict can be dated back to at least the 3rd century Hijri.

[2] Imam Tahir bin ‘Abd al-Rashid al-Bukhari (d.542 AH) writes in Khulasat al-Fatawa, “If a man marries while there is no witness, so he says, ‘I make Allah and His Messenger as well as the angels witnesses [of my nikah]’, he will be declared a disbeliever (kafir) as per the verdicts, since he believed that the Messenger and angels know the unseen (ghayb).” (Khulasat al-Fatawa, 4:385)

[3] Imam Hassan bin Mansur (d.592 AH), known as Qadi Khan, states, “A man performed nikah with a woman without any witnesses and said to the woman, ‘we make Allah and his Messenger our witnesses’. The jurists have said that this statement of the man is disbelief (kufr). This is because he held the belief that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) has knowledge of the unseen (‘ilm al-ghayb), whereas he didn’t have knowledge of the unseen while alive, so how would he then have it after his death?” (Fatawa Qadi Khan, 4:883) ((Taken from Izalat al-Rayb, p. 443))

[4] Imam ‘Abd al-Rahim ibn Abu Bakr ibn Burhan al-Din (d.651 AH) – grandson of Sahib Hidayah – writes, “If a man marries in the absence of witnesses, so he said, ‘I make Allah and His Messenger witnesses, or I make Allah and His angels witnesses,’ he will become a disbeliever.”  (Fusul Imadiyyah, from Alamgiri, 2:283)

[5] Imam ‘Alim bin ‘Ala’yi Ansari al-Dahlawi (d.686 AH) writes in Tatar Khaniyyah[2] – compiled at the request of Khan A’zam Tatar Khan Dahlawi[3], “A man performed nikah without witnesses, so he said, ‘I make Allah, the Messenger and the angels my witnesses,’ the nikah will not take place because he believed that the Messenger and the angels know the unseen (ghayb) and they definitely hear the call (nida’), then he will become a disbeliever.” (Fatawa Tatar Khaniyyah, from Majmu’ah al-Fatawa, 3:77) ((Izalat al-Rayb, p.445))

[6] Imam Shihab al-Din al-Khawarzami al-Bazzazi (d.827 AH) writes, “If one married a woman by making Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessing be upon him) as his witnesses, the nikah will not take place and he is feared to have committed disbelief.” (Fatawa Bazzaziyyah[4], 4:119)

He writes in another place, “Our scholars have said that whoever says the souls of the mashayikh are present (hadir) and knowing, he is a disbeliever.” (Fatawa Bazzaziyyah, p.326) ((Taken from Izalat al-Rayb, p.445))

[7] It is written in Fatawa Jawahir al-Akhlatiyyah of ‘Allamah Muhammad Akhlati al-Husayni (d. before 10th AH), “If anyone holds that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) has knowledge of the unseen, he turns a disbeliever. Then how can this be thought for anyone else?” ((Taken from Izalat al-Rayb, p.445))

[8] ‘Allamah Zayn al-‘Abidin ibn Nujaym al-Misri (d.970 AH) states, “It is written in Al-Khaniyyah (Fatawa Qadi Khan) and Al-Khulasah that if a person takes Allah and his Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) as witnesses for nikah, the nikah will not take place. And that individual will become a disbeliever because he held the belief that the Messenger of Allah has knowledge of the unseen (‘ilm al-ghayb).” (Al-Bahr al-Ra’iq, 3:88)

And he also writes, “Our scholars have said that whoever says the souls of the mashayikh are present and knowing, he is a disbeliever.” (Al-Bahr al-Ra’iq, 5:124) ((Taken from Izalat al-Rayb, p.443))

[9] ‘Allamah ‘Umar bin Muhammad al-Sunnami (d.8th AH) writes, “A man married a woman with no witnesses and he said, ‘I make Allah and His Messenger my witnesses, or I make Allah and angels my witnesses,’ he will turn a disbeliever as he believed that the Messenger and the angels have knowledge of the unseen.” (Nisaab al-Ihtisab, 1:211)

[10] ‘Allamah Kamal al-Din bin Karim al-Din (d.8th AH) writes, “If a man says to a woman, ‘I made Allah and His Messenger my witnesses’, the nikah will not take place. Imam Abu ‘l-Qasim al-Saffar said, ‘it is disbelief and he will become a disbeliever; since he believes that the Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) knows this nikah whereas the unseen (ghayb) is not known to anyone except Allah’.” (Fatawa Majmu’ah Khani, 2:6)

[11] ‘Allamah ‘Abd al-Rahman Effendi (d.1078 AH), known as Shaykhi Zadah, writes, “Whoever says the souls of the mashayikh are present and knowing, he is a disbeliever (kafir).” (Majma’ al-Anhur, 1:320)

[12] ‘Allamah Biri Zadah al-Hanafi (d.1099 AH) states, “A man performed nikah with a woman and the witnesses were not present, [and] he said to the woman, ‘we make Allah and his Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) our witnesses’. Then this individual will become a disbeliever. This is because he held the belief that the Messenger of Allah has knowledge of the unseen. Since the one [being made witness] doesn’t have knowledge [of this nikah], how can he become a witness? The person who holds this belief is a disbeliever.” (Hashiyyah al-Ashbah, p.86) ((Taken from Izalat al-Rayb, p.443))

[13] ‘Allamah Nasir al-Din Lahori al-Bina’i (d.10th AH) states, “Or if he said, ‘I make Allah, His Messenger and the angels witnesses of my nikah, he will turn a disbeliever; since he believed that the Messenger and angels know the unseen.”  (Fatawa Barhanah, 1:127)[5]

[14] It is mentioned in Fatawa al-Hindiyyahalso known as Fatawa Alamgiri compiled by 500 jurists from the Subcontinent, Hijaz, Iraq, and Syria, at the behest of Sultan Aurangzeb Alamgir (d.1707 AD), “If an individual performed nikah without any witnesses and he said, ‘I make Allah and his Messenger my witnesses,’ or he said, ‘I make Allah and his angels my witnesses,’ then such an individual will become a disbeliever. But if he said, ‘I make the angels on my right and left sides (kiraman katibin) as my witnesses,’ then he will not become a disbeliever [because both these angels are witnesses of the nikah].” (Fatawa al-Hindiyyah, 2:292) ((Taken from Izalat al-Rayb, p.444))

[15] ‘Allamah Qadi Thana’ullah Panipati[6] (d.1225 AH), known as Imam Bayhaqi of his time, writes, “If any person says that Allah Most High and His Prophet are witness in a certain act, then that person will become a disbeliever, because such a person has regarded the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) as the knower of the unseen.” (Irshad al-Talibin, p.28; Ma la Budda Minhu, p.176) ((Taken from Izalat al-Rayb, p.446))

[16] ‘Allamah Ahmad Din Bughwi al-Lahori[7] (d.1286 AH) writes, “One of [the types of shirk] is shirk in knowledge: It means to believe that anyone other than Allah from the creation has absolute knowledge [general knowledge and knowledge of every specific thing], is hadir and nadir, and knows from a distance, just like Allah has the knowledge [of everything] and is hadir and nadir. And the effect of this belief appears in his statements. For example, he calls on the name of his shaykh and mentor while standing, sitting, sleeping and waking up, and at other occasions. Or instead of the name of Allah, he says in Hindi: dam-i-murshid, dam-i-pir hamaray, dam ya ‘Ali or ya dam-i-mushkil kusha’. Such beliefs are undoubtedly baseless and false; there is no doubt in it. Do not you see how Allah Most High negated the knowledge of the others in the Verse of the Throne and how He established the knowledge of the secret, the open, and the actions for Himself saying: ‘He knows what is before them and what is behind them; while they encompass nothing of His knowledge, except what He wills’ (2:255). ‘He knows what you conceal and what you reveal, and He knows what you earn,’ (6:3). ‘He certainly knows the secret and what is even more hidden,’ (20:7).” (Dalil al-Mushrikin, p.33-34)

And he further writes, “It is mentioned in Al-Bazzaziyyah and Al-Bahr al-Ra’iq: ‘One who says that the souls of the pious are present and know the important events has committed disbelief’. While, it is written in Zad al-Labib: ‘One who assumes that the dead have discretion (tasarruf) in the matters besides Allah Most High, he is disbeliever.” (Dalil al-Mushrikin, p.52)

‘Allamah Bughwi again writes, “This issue is written in Al-Bazzaziyyah and other books of Fatawa: ‘One who says the souls of the mashayikh are present and knowing, he has committed disbelief’. Likewise, Shaykh Fakhr al-Din Abu Sa’id ‘Uthman al-Jabbani bin Sulayman al-Hanafi has written in his treatise: ‘One who assumes that the dead have discretion (tasarruf) in the affairs – instead of Allah Most High – has committed disbelief’. The same is written in Al-Bahr al-Ra’iq and Mi’ah Masa’il [of Shah Ishaq Muhaddith Dahlawi].” (Dalil al-Mushrikin, p.138)

[17] Hujjat al-Islam Mawlana Muhammad Qasim Nanotwi (d.1297 AH) writes, “The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) should not be considered hadir and nadir, otherwise, let alone Islam, it will be disbelief (kufr).” (Fuyuz-i-Qasmiyyah, p.48)

Mawlana Muhammad Qasim Nanotwi further writes, “This notion about mashayikh is erroneous that they are present and observant at every moment. This attribute is exclusive to Allah (Exalted is He) only. By way of rupturing the norm (kharq al-‘adah), such matters have appeared from some elders, and through that, the ignorant were deceived.” (Fuyuz-i-Qasmiyyah, p.48)

[18] ‘Allamah ‘Abd al-Hayy Lakhnawi (d.1304 AH) writes, “Knowledge of all of the matters (juziyyat) at all times is only specific to Allah Most High. It is stated in Fatawa Bazzaziyyah that whoever says that souls of the pious (mashayikh) are hadir is a disbeliever (kafir) and it is written in the same book that whoever performed nikah by making Allah and His Messenger to be witnesses becomes a disbeliever. This is because he assumed that the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) is knower of the unseen.” (Majmu’ al-Fatawa, 1:46-47)

And he writes in another place, “From them [the lies] is what they mention when commemorating the Muhammadan hearing that he hears the blessings of one who sends blessings on him without any mediation, though he is far. This is false and not established by any narration. Rather, its opposite is established. The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, ‘One who sends blessings on me near my grave I hear it, and one who sends blessings on me from a distance, Allah appointed an angel who conveys it me. It will suffice him for his world and hereafter [and] I will intercede for him on the Day of Judgment’. Al-Bayhaqi in Shu’ab al-Iman, Abu ‘l-Shaykh in Kitab al-Thawab and Al-‘Uqayli in Kitab al-Du’afa’ transmitted it, and it has corroborative reports (shawahid) which were elaborated by Al-Suyuti in Al-La’ali al-Masnu’ah and Ibn ‘Arraq in Tanzih al-Shar’iah.” (Al-Athar al-Marfu’ah fi ‘l-Akhbar al-Mawdu’ah, p.35)

[19] ‘Allamah al-Muhaddith Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri (d.1346 AH) was asked regarding a person who believes that the Noble Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) is hadir and nadir while believing that this power and discretion (tasarruf) is bestowed to him by Allah Most High. The Shaykh replied, “If any individual believes that the Noble Messenger, by the giving of Allah, is hadir and nadir everywhere, then even though this is not belief in al-‘ilm al-dhati (knowledge not bestowed by Allah), it is belief in al-‘ilm al-muhit (all-encompassing knowledge) for the Noble Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace). And this is shirk just like belief [in this sense] of al-‘ilm al-dhati is shirk.” (Fatawa Khaliliyyah, p.338)

[20] The Grand Mufti of Hind Mufti Muhammad Kifayatullah al-Dahlawi (d.1372 AH) writes regarding Shirk fi ‘l-’Ilm and Shirk fi ‘l-Sam‘ wa ‘l-Basr, “To attribute Allah’s power of knowledge to others. For example, to say that a prophet or a pious man has the knowledge of the unseen, knows everything, is aware of all of our affairs, or can tell what is happening far and near; all this is Shirk fi ‘l-’Ilm. Shirk fi ‘l-Sam‘ wa ‘l-Basr is to attribute Allah’s powers of seeing and hearing to others. For example, to believe that a certain prophet or a pious person could hear things far and near, or could see all of our acts.” (Ta’lim al-Islam, 4:15)

[21] Hakim al-Ummah Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanawi writes, “[Shirk and kufr is] to have the belief that a particular saint or pious person has full knowledge of all our conditions at all times… To implore someone from far and think that he will come to know of it…” (Ta’lim al-Din, p.29)

[22] Similar verdicts can be found in Al-Tajnis, p.297, of Imam Burhan al-Din ‘Ali al-Marghinani (d.593 AH)author of Al-Hidayah; ‘Umdat al-Qari, 11:520, of Shaykh al-Islam ‘Allamah ‘Ayni (d.855H); Al-Musayarah, 2:88, of Hafiz Kamal al-Din ibn al-Humam al-Hanafi (d.861 AH); Sharh Fiqh al-Akbar, p.185, and Sharh al-Shifa’, p.4:438, of Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari (d.1014H); ‘Aqa’id al-Islam, p. 155, of ‘Allamah ‘Abd al-Haq Haqqani Dahlawi (d.1336 AH); Fatawa Rashidiyyah, 3:36, by Imam Rashid Ahmad Gangohi (d.1323 AH) with signatures of Shaykh al-Hind Mawlana Mahmud al-Hassan (d.1339 AH), Mufti ‘Aziz al-Rahman ‘Uthmani (d.1348 AH); etc. ((Taken from Izalat al-Rayb, p.445))

[1] Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah wrote in the introduction to his edition of Al-Tasrih bi ma Tawatara fi Nuzul al-Masih, “Our shaykh, the researcher, Al-Kawthari said: ‘After the shaykh, the imam, Ibn al-Humam (d.861 AH), there appeared none equal to him [i.e. Imam Anwar Shah Kashmiri] in eliciting rare points of discussion from hadiths – and this is a long period of time!’” (p. 26)

[2] An excellent fatwa book of the Hanafi school that has managed to combine the juridical issues contained in al-Muhit al-Burhani, Al-Dhakhirah, Al-Khaniyyah, and Al-Zahiriyyah. (Kashf al-Zunun, 1:268)

[3] He wrote a commentary of the Qur’an named Tafsir Tatar Khan.

[4] Mufti Husain Kadodia informed us that Shaykh al-Islam Abu Sa’ud (d.951 AH) was asked why he did not collect the important issues of Fiqh and compile a book. At this he replied, “I feel shy in front of the author of Al-Bazzaziyyah while his compilation is present, since it is a noble compilation that comprises of all important matters properly.” (Kashf al-Zunun, 1:242) In addition to this he informed us that ‘Allamah ‘Abd al-Hayy Lakhnawi said, “I studied Fatawa al-Bazzaziyyah and found it containing necessary issues [of Fiqh] from amongst that which is relied upon.” (Fawa’id al-Bahiyyah, p.246)

[5] Special thanks to Mufti Husain Kadodia for providing us quotes no. 2, 3, 9, 10, 11 and 13 and other beneficial information.

[6] Shaykh Mirza Mazhar Jan Janan (d.1195 AH) used to say, “If Allah Almighty questions on the Day of Judgment, ‘what gift did you bring in our court?’ I will say: ‘Thana’ullah Panipatti’.” (Maqamat Mazhari, p.76; Hada’iq al-Hanafiyyah, p.484)

[7] He is Ahmad Din (1217 AH – 1286 AH) bin Hafiz Nur Hayat bin Hafiz Muhammad Shifa’ bin Hafiz Nur Muhammad Bughwi. He traveled to Delhi, at the age of eight, with his elder brother, ‘Allamah Ghulam Muhyi al-Din Bughwi (1203 AH – 1273 AH), for higher learning. There they studied under the likes of Imam Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Dahlawi and ‘Allamah Shah Ishaq Muhaddith Dahlawi. He is the author of many books like Hashiyyah Jalali, Hashiyyah Sharh Mulla, Mas’alah Ghina’, and Dalil al-Mushrikin (on the enormity of shirk). (Hada’iq al-Hanafiyyah, p.504-505) Mawlana Faqir Muhammad Jhelumi writes in Hada’iq al-Hanafiyyah, p.504, “However, the extent of the spread of the rational (ma’qul) and transmitted sciences (manqul) in Punjab was not done by anyone as much as by these brothers. Thousands of people graduated and received benefit at their hands. It seemed as if no person of knowledge remained deprived of being their student, some of them directly and others by being connected to their students.”