Ghāyat al-Ma’mūl: The Scholars of Madīnah Refute Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s Views on ‘Ilm al-Ghayb

January 19, 2019

Ghāyat al-Ma’mūl is a work that was written by Shaykh Sayyid Aḥmad al-Barzanjī (d. 1919), one of the greatest scholars of Madīnah of that era, and its Shāfi‘ī Muftī. It was written in refutation of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s view that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) was given complete and exhaustive knowledge of creation from the beginning of creation till the end of the world and beyond.

One can find the most recent edition of the work, published by Shirkah Dār al-Mashārī‘, at the following link:

Barelwīs will point out that Sayyid Aḥmad al-Barzanjī was a signatory of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s Ḥusām al-Ḥaramayn – which is true.* But the reality of his signature was described by Shaykh al-Islām Mawlānā Sayyid Ḥusayn Aḥmad Madanī (1879 – 1957) (who was at that time residing in Madīnah) in his al-Shihāb al-Thāqib. He explains that Sayyid Aḥmad Barzanjī initially felt that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān was reliable and a person of learning. Based on this good opinion, he signed his treatise, and even encouraged others to do so. However, when he had his final meeting with him in the house of Sayyid ‘Abdullāh Madanī, and they discussed the issue of ‘ilm al-ghayb, he realised the academic and ideological reality of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān and began to regret his previous actions. At this time, he took back his commendation and demanded his seal be removed, and told them that he has come to realise that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān is a person of misguidance and thus spoke very harshly about him.

Muftī Aḥmad Barzanjī himself told Mawlānā Madanī afterwards that on the following day, Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s son came to him, kissed his feet and hands, and begged him to keep the seal on the commendation, saying: “Do not take back the endorsement because we have no disagreement on these issues, and while we disagree on the issue of ‘ilm al-ghayb, let that remain as it is.” He also showed extreme flattery in speech and conduct. Muftī Aḥmad Barzanjī used some harsh words, but feeling embarrassed at his pleading, said it will be fine to keep the seal. However, he also pointed out that the seal is of no benefit to them given that his endorsement was conditional. A number of other ‘Ulamā’ from the Ḥaramayn also made their endorsements conditional. (Mawlānā Madanī quotes some of these on page 215-6 of al-Shihāb al-Thāqib.) Mawlānā Madanī notes that even those ‘Ulamā’ who did not put conditions, it is obvious that their endorsements were premised on the information in the treatise being correct.

Sayyid Aḥmad Barzanjī, soon after the last meeting with Aḥmad Riḍā Khān, began to pen a detailed refutation of the latter’s views on the knowledge of ghayb given to the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). In al-Shihāb al-Thāqib, Mawlānā Madanī said the treatise is in the process of being published. (It was eventually published as Ghāyat al-Ma’mūl.) In this treatise, Sayyid Barzanjī, and by extension those who approved of it, used harsh words against Aḥmad Riḍā Khān. The positive words that were said of him by some of the scholars, either out of good character or because of not being fully aware of his true character, must be weighed against the negative words used by Sayyid Barzanjī. (see for this account: al-Shihāb al-Thāqib, p. 210-1)

In Ghāyat al-Ma’mūl, Sayyid Barzanjī refers to Aḥmad Riḍā Khān as follows:

ثم بعد ذلك  ورد إلى المدينة المنورة رجل من علماء الهند يدعى أحمد رضا خان

“Then after that a man from the ‘Ulamā’ of India arrived at Madīna Munawwara called Aḥmad Riḍā Khān…” (Ghāyat al-Ma’mūl, p. 9)

Note, he does not use any honorifics or words of praise to describe Aḥmad Riḍā Khān Barelwī. Similarly, he says afterwards:

ثم بعد ذلك أطلعني أحمد رضا خان المذكور على رسالة له

“Then after that the aforementioned Aḥmad Riḍā Khān made me aware of a treatise of his…” (ibid. p. 10)

He mentions that he explained to Aḥmad Riḍā Khān why his views are unacceptable but he “persisted and was obstinate” (aṣarra wa ‘ānada) (ibid. p. 11)

He further says:

زعم هذا غلطا وجرأة على تفسير كتاب الله بغير دليل

“[Aḥmad Riḍā Khān] made this claim erroneously and being daring in interpreting the Book of Allāh without evidence.” (ibid)

Here he finds Aḥmad Riḍā Khān guilty of tafsīr bi ‘l-ra’y which is severely condemned in ḥadīth.

Then he goes into detail in refuting Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s view. He refers to his view as “a grave error” (khaṭa’ ‘aẓīm) (ibid. p. 14) and as being “rejected” (mardūd) (ibid. p. 57)

Ghāyat al-Ma’mūl was endorsed by several leading scholars of Madīnah including Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qādir ibn Tawfīq al-Shalabī (1878 – 1950), the imām of the Ḥanafīs in Madīnah, and Shaykh Tāj al-Dīn ibn Ilyās al-Ḥanafī, the Ḥanafī Muftī of Madīnah. This is clear evidence that it is not only the Ahl al-Sunnah of the Deobandī school/orientation that refuted Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s heretical views, but the Ahl al-Sunnah of Madīnah had also done so.

One of the great imāms of the subcontinent from the Firangī Maḥall school (non-Deobandī), ‘Allāmah ‘Ayn al-Quḍāt al-Ḥaydarābādī al-Lakhnawī al-Ḥanafī (1858 – 1924) – a foremost student of ‘Allāmah ‘Abd al-Ḥayy al-Lakhnawī – also wrote a refutation of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s view in a work called Ibrāz al-Maknūn fī Mabḥath al-‘Ilm bi Ma Kāna wa Mā Yakūn.

Sayyid Aḥmad Barzanji also endorsed al-Muhannad in a treatise called Kamāl al-Tathqīf, which was written in response to ‘Allāmah Khalīl Aḥmad Sahāranpūrī’s request to review al-Muhannad. In Kamāl al-Tathqīf, he refers to ‘Allamah Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri as “al-‘Allāmah al-Fāḍil” (the virtuous erudite scholar) and “al-Muḥaqqiq al-Kāmil” (the accomplished research-scholar) and “one of the well-known ‘Ulamā’ of India”. (al-Muhannad, Dār al-Fatḥ, p. 122) Clearly, he did not believe ‘Allamah Khalil Ahmad Sahāranpūrī, one of the four elders of Deoband that Aḥmad Riḍā Khān targeted with his takfīr campaign, to be a disbeliever.

His general endorsement of al-Muhannad in Kamāl al-Tathqīf (ibid. p. 124) shows he agreed that the allegations against Mawlānā Gangohī, Mawlānā Nānotwī, Mawlānā Sahāranpūrī and Mawlānā Thānawī are false and he did not agree with the takfīr. Al-Muhannad clarifies that the fatwā attributed to Mawlānā Gangohī which was the basis of Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s takfīr is spurious and fabricated, and opposes what he has clearly articulated in his published fatwās; that Mawlānā Nānotwī in Taḥdhīr al-Nās did not deny the finality of prophethood but merely elaborated upon and expanded the meaning of the title “Khātam al-Nabiyyīn”; that Mawlānā Sahāranpūrī in al-Barāhīn al-Qāṭi‘ah did not make a blanket judgement of Satan’s knowledge being more expansive than the Prophet’s but was referring to lowly, insignificant knowledge of worldly matters; and that Mawlānā Thānawī in Ḥifẓ al-Īmān did not compare prophetic knowledge to that of laymen, madmen and animals, but only affirmed partial knowledge of ghayb for laymen, madmen and animals and thus concluded that if someone insists on calling another “‘Ālim al-Ghayb” based on partial knowledge of ghayb this would not be exclusive to the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). (see: al-Muhannad, p. 67-8; 71-3; 74-7; 84-6)

In Kamāl al-Tathqīf, Sayyid Barzanjī also supports the Deobandī/Sunnī position (as opposed to the Barelwī position) on the expanse of Allah’s power as it relates to issuing a statement that is not true. See:

* However, most of the content of his attestation is known only on Aḥmad Riḍā Khān’s authority, who is not reliable. There is proof he meddled with at least one of the attestations. See:




Answering the Challenge of Munawwar Ateeq Rizwi to True Sunni Muslims

September 30, 2013

Answering the Challenge of Munawwar Ateeq Rizwi to True Sunni Muslims

In this recently uploaded video, Barelwi preacher, Munawwar Ateeq Rizwi, issues a challenge to true Sunni Muslims:

Most of the video is the usual nauseating drivel, full of rhetoric, boasts, self-promotion and emotional blackmail, lacking any real substance. However, he issues a couple of challenges to Sunni Muslims, which I felt I should answer.

I will break this response down into two parts, in answer to both challenges of Munawwar. His first challenge was to find any statement from the scholars of Ahlus Sunnah wherein they define ‘ilm al-ghayb or ghayb in such a way that it is exclusive to Allah and inapplicable to creatures. His second challenge was to prove that after the completion of the revelation of the Qur’an, the Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) was unaware of any worldly knowledge or event.

Answering Munawwar’s First Challenge

At around the 34 minute mark, he claims so-called non-Sunnis attempt to define ghayb or ‘ilm al-ghayb so as to negate it from the Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wasallam). Then at around 42 minutes, he issues the following challenge: “Not a single ‘aalim in the history of Islamic civilisation ever gave that definition of ghayb. This is my challenge. My challenge is: not a single ‘aalim in the history of Islamic civilisation from the Ahlus Sunnah ever gave, never ever gave, such a definition to ghayb in which they secluded it only for Allah Subhaanahoo wa Ta‘aalaa. You can never show me such a definition for ghayb….Nobody can show us a definition from the ‘ulamaa’ of Ahlus Sunnah in which the ‘aalim defines ghayb in a way that is specific to Allah.”

In answer to this challenge, I will first present one comprehensive definition given by an accepted scholar of Ahlus Sunnah, followed by some supporting statements from other accepted scholars of Ahlus Sunnah.

The great Māturīdī Imam of ‘Aqidah, ‘Abd al-‘Azīz ibn Ahmad al-Farhārī (see his biography in Nuzhat al-Khawātir, Dār Ibn Hazm, p. 1018) writes in his famous and accepted text on ‘Aqidah, an-Nibrās (a commentary on Taftāzāni’s Sharh al-‘Aqā’id al-Nasafiyyah), which was authored in the year 1239 H/1823 CE:

واعلم أن للناس في مسألة الغيب كلمات غير منقحة والتحقيق أن الغيب ما غاب عن الحواس والعلم الضروري والعلم الإستدلالي وقد نطق القرآن بنفي علمه عمن سواه تعالى فمن ادعى أنه يعلمه كفر ومن صدق المدعي كفر وأما ما علم بحاسة أو ضرورة أو دليل فليس بغيب ولا كفر في دعواه ولا في تصديقه على الجزم فى اليقيني والظن فى الظني عند المحققين

 وبهذا التحقيق اندفع الإشكال فى الأمور التي يزعم أنها من الغيب وليست منه لكونها مدركة بالسمع أو البصر أو الضرورة أو الدليل

فأحدها إخبار الأنبياء لأنها مستفادة من الوحي ومن خلق العلم الضروري فيهم أو من انكشاف الكوائن على حواسهم

ثانيها خبر الولي لأنه مستفاد من النبي أو من رؤيا صالحة أو من إلهام إلهي أو من النظر فى اللوح المحفوظ وهو ثابت من أهل الكشف وإن منعه بعض الفقهاء

تالثها إخبار المحاسب بالكسوف والخسوف لأنه بدلائل هندسية قطعية

رابعها إخبار المنجم والرمال لأن النجوم والرمل علمان استدلاليان منزلان على بعض الأنبياء ثم اندرسا وخلط الناس فيهما فمن استدل بقاعدة نبوية أصاب فى الخبر

خامسها خبر الكاهن لأنه مما يخبره الجن عن مشاهدة أو سماع من الملائكة الذين عرفوا الكوائن المستقبلة بالوحي

تم نقول قد نطق كثير من الأحاديث وأقوال السلف بكفر المنجم والكاهن ومن يصدقهما وذكر غير واحد من المحققين أن التكفير خاص بمن يدعي علم الغيب أو يزعم النجوم مدبرة بالاستقلال أو يزعم الجن عالمة بالغيب

قلت: ومع هذا ليس الإشتغال بالنجوم والكهانة وتصديقهما من فعل الصالحين ولا شك أن فيهما إخلالا بعقائد ضعفاء المسلمين لزعمهم أن المخبر عالم بالغيب على أن الكاهن يصعب أن يسلم إيمانه لاستمداده من الشياطين

فاحفظ هذا التحقيق فإنه من خواص مؤلفاتنا

النبراس شرح شرح العقائد، مكتبة حقانية، ص ٣٤٣-٤

“Know that the people have unrefined words on the issue of ghaybThe verification is that ghayb is that which is hidden to the senses, necessary knowledge and deductive knowledge. The Qur’an has pronounced its negation from (every) one besides Him, Exalted is He. Thus, whoever claims that he knows it has disbelieved, and whoever assents to (the claim of) a claimant has disbelieved. As for that which is known through sense or necessity or evidence, it is not ghayb, nor has one disbelieved by claiming it, nor by assenting to it with certainty in certain (knowledge) and uncertainty in conjectural (knowledge), according to the verifiers.

By this verification, the difficulty in the issues which are assumed that they are from ghayb and are not (in reality) from them as they are perceived by hearing, seeing, necessity or evidence, is dispelled.

One of them is the report of the prophets, because they are acquired from revelation and from the creation of a necessary knowledge in them or from the exposure of existents to their senses.

“The second of them is the report of a saint because it is acquired from a prophet or a pious dream or divine inspiration or from looking into the Preserved Tablet which is established from the Ahl al-Kashf, although some jurists deny it.

“The third of them is the report of an astronomer of (the time of) the solar and lunar eclipse because it is by decisive mathematical evidences.

“The fourth of them is the report of an astrologer and geomancer because astrology and geomancy are two deductive sciences that were sent down on some of the prophets and then they were lost and the people became confused over them, so whoever draws evidence using a prophetic principle, he will be correct in the report.

“The fifth of them is the report of a soothsayer because it is from that which the jinn inform him from observation or hearing the angels who are aware of future existents by means of revelation.

“Then we say: Many of the hadiths and statements of the Salaf have pronounced kufr on the astrologer and soothsayer and whoever assents to them, and many of the verifiers have stated that the anathematisation is limited to the one who claims knowledge of ghayb or believes the stars manage (the creation) independently or believes the jinn know the ghayb.

“I say: And despite this, occupation in astrology and soothsaying and assenting to them is not from the practice of the righteous people, and there is no doubt that through them there is harm created in the beliefs of the weak Muslims due to their belief that the one giving the information is knower of ghayb; on top it being difficult to accept the īmān of a soothsayer as he seeks help from the devils.

“Preserve this verification as it is from the specialities of our writings.”

An-Nibrās fi Sharh Sharh al-‘Aqā’id, Maktabah Haqqāniyyah, pp. 343-4

The author of an-Nibrās clearly defines ghayb in such a way that the true meaning of ‘ilm al-ghayb belongs exclusively to Allah, which he says is attested to by verses of the Qur’an. Examples of these verses are:

قُل لَّا يَعْلَمُ مَن فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ الْغَيْبَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ

“Say: None in the heavens and the earth knows the ghayb besides Allah.” (27:65)

قُل لاَّ أَقُولُ لَكُمْ عِندِي خَزَآئِنُ اللّهِ وَلا أَعْلَمُ الْغَيْبَ

Say (O Prophet): I do not say to you I have the treasures of Allah, nor do I know the ghayb.” (6:50)

قُل لاَّ أَمْلِكُ لِنَفْسِي نَفْعًا وَلاَ ضَرًّا إِلاَّ مَا شَاء اللّهُ وَلَوْ كُنتُ أَعْلَمُ الْغَيْبَ لاَسْتَكْثَرْتُ مِنَ الْخَيْرِ

“Say: I do not own for myself benefit, nor harm, except what Allah wills; and had I known the ghayb I would have accumulated a lot of good things and no evil would have touched me.” (7:188)

Furthermore, if this wasn’t clear enough, the author of an-Nibrās lists a number of things which people wrongly assume to be ‘ilm al-ghayband he explains why they are not so. The first example he uses is the information given by prophets, as this is received through revelation; and anything to which there is a means or evidence – including revelation – is not classified as true ghayb. In sum, his definition of ghaybentails that it is all knowledge to which creation have absolutely no access.

Many other scholars have said the same. For example, Ibn Hajar al-Haythami (d. 974 H) said in his al-Fatāwā al-Hadīthiyyah:

لا يعلم الغيب إلا هو ومن سواه إن علموا جزئيات منه فهو بإعلامه وإطلاعه لهم وحينئذ لا يطلق أنهم يعلمون الغيب إذ لا صفة لهم يقتدرون بها على الاستقلال بعلمه وأيضا هم ما علموا وإنما علموا وأيضا هم ما علموا غيبا مطلقا لأن من أعلم بشيء منه يشاركه فيه الأنبياء ونظراؤه ممن اطلع

رسائل ابن عابدين، ٢:٣١٣


None but He (Allah) knows the ghayb, and those besides Him, although they know particulars of it, it is by His revelation and disclosure to them. Therefore, it is not said without qualification that they know the ghayb, since they have no attribute by which they can independently know it. Moreover, they do not know, but were taught. Moreover, they were not taught the unseen in absolute terms because whoever is informed something from it, the Prophets and their peers who have comprehended [that knowledge] participate with him in it.”

Quoted in Rasā’il Ibn ‘Abidin, 2:313

It is clear from this that al-Haythami considers the true meaning of ghayb as being something that is limited to Allah.

An-Nasafi also defines ghayb in his Tafsir in a way that it is exclusive to Allah:

الغيب هو ما لم يقم عليه دليل ولا أطلع عليه مخلوق

Ghayb is that on which no evidence has been erected, nor was a creature informed of it.”

From amongst recent scholars, ‘Allamah al-Kawthari clearly says in his Maqālāt:

العلم بإعلام الله لا يكون من الغيب في شيء

Knowledge by means of disclosure from Allah is not from (true) ghayb at all.

Ibn ‘Abidin said:

ما اختص به تعالى هو الغيب المطلق على أن ما يدعيه العبد ليس غيبا حقيقة لأنه إنما يكون بإعلام من الله تعالى

رسائل ابن عابدين، ٢:٣١٤


“That which is exclusive to Him is unrestricted/unqualified ghayb, while that which the servant (i.e. prophet or saint) claims is notghayb in reality because it only comes about by disclosure from Allah, Exalted is He.”

Rasā’il Ibn Abidīn, 2:314

Since this is the true and original meaning of ‘ilm al-ghayb – i.e. that which creatures have absolutely no access to –, this is why the Hanafis have clearly stated that the one who claims ‘ilm al-ghayb (without qualifying it) has committed kufr.

Ibn ‘Abidin says:

ذكر الحنفية في عدة من كتبهم أن من ادعى لنفسه علم الغيب كفر

رسائل ابن عابدين، ٢:٣١١

The Hanafis have stated in a number of their books that the one who claims ‘ilm al-ghayb for himself has disbelieved.”

Rasā’il Ibn Abidin, 2:311

Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari said:

وذكر الحنفية تصريحا بالتكفير باعتقاد أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم يعلم الغيب لمعارضة قوله تعالى قل لا يعلم من في السماوات والأرض الغيب إلا الله كذا في المسايرة

منح الروض الأزهر في شرح الفقه الأكبر، دار البشائر الإسلامية، ص ٤٢٢

“The Hanafis have mentioned clearly that by believing the Prophet (upon him blessing and peace) knew the ghayb one is declared a disbeliever due to conflict with His (Exalted is He) statement: “Say: None in the heavens and earth knows the unseen but Allah.””

Minah al-Rawd al-Azhar fī Sharh al-Fiqh al-Akbar, Dār al-Bashā’ir al-Islāmiyyah, p. 422

Ibn al-Humam and Ibn Abi Sharif say the same thing in Musamarah/Musayarah. (Kitāb al-Musāmarah bi Sharh al-Musāyarahal-Matba‘ah al-Kubrā al-Amīriyyah, p. 202)


If “’ilm al-ghayb” in its original meaning was a quality shared by Allah and His creatures, this verdict makes no sense. The only way it can be made sense of is by acknowledging that ‘ilm al-ghayb in its true and original sense according to the Hanafis means the knowledge which is completely inaccessible to creation (what al-Tahawi calls al-‘ilm al-mafqūd). To claim such knowledge is certainly kufr (as al-Tahawi mentioned), as it is to claim independent knowledge, which is exclusive to Allah. Thus, again, as with other issues, the claim of the Barelwis to Hanafiyyat has been proven to be an empty claim. In reality, their maslak is ‘Nafsaniyyat,’ not ‘Hanafiyyat.’

It is absolutely clear, therefore, that Munawwar’s statement that no scholar of Ahlus Sunnah has defined ‘ilm al-ghayb so as to exclude every being besides Allah from having this quality is a baseless and totally incorrect claim; unless he wishes to exclude all the above scholars from the Ahlus Sunnah and reserve the name only for his imam, Ahmad Rida Khan Barelwi, and his followers (which is what they really mean when they say “Ahlus Sunnah”). In fact, the scholars of ‘Aqidah, Fiqh and Tafsir, particularly those of a Hanafi persuasion, are clear that according to its true and original meaning, ‘ilm al-ghayb is a quality reserved for Allah, Most Exalted, and none share with Him in this quality.

Answering Munawwar’s Second Challenge

After about one hour into the video, Munawwar claims – quoting his imam, Ahmad Rida Khan – that there is not a single decisive proof that after the completion of the Qur’an, the Prophet (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) displayed unawareness of any matter of the world.

I will present one hadith to refute this claim.

Al-Bukhari and Muslim narrate in several places of their Sahihs on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas:

يُؤْخَذُ بِرِجَالٍ مِنْ أَصْحَابِي ذَاتَ اليَمِينِ وَذَاتَ الشِّمَالِ، فَأَقُولُ: أَصْحَابِي، فَيُقَالُ: إِنَّهُمْ لَمْ يَزَالُوا مُرْتَدِّينَ عَلَى أَعْقَابِهِمْ مُنْذُ فَارَقْتَهُمْ، فَأَقُولُ كَمَا قَالَ العَبْدُ الصَّالِحُ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ: وَكُنْتُ عَلَيْهِمْ شَهِيدًا مَا دُمْتُ فِيهِمْ، فَلَمَّا تَوَفَّيْتَنِي كُنْتَ أَنْتَ الرَّقِيبَ عَلَيْهِمْ، وَأَنْتَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ شَهِيدٌ، إِنْ تُعَذِّبْهُمْ فَإِنَّهُمْ عِبَادُكَ، وَإِنْ تَغْفِرْ لَهُمْ فَإِنَّكَ أَنْتَ العَزِيزُ الحَكِيمُ


“Men from my companions will be seized from the right and the left, so I will say: ‘My companions!’ It will be said: ‘They continued turning back on their heels (i.e. apostatising) since you parted from them.’ So I will say as the righteous slave ‘Isa ibn Maryam said: ‘I was witness over them for as long as I was amongst them, and then when You took me, You became the watcher over them…’”

Thus, it is established that on the plains of resurrection, RasulAllah (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) will say he was unaware of the actions of some of those who accompanied him after his death.

In another version of the same hadith from Sahih al-Bukhari:

يُجَاءُ بِرِجَالٍ مِنْ أُمَّتِي، فَيُؤْخَذُ بِهِمْ ذَاتَ الشِّمَالِ، فَأَقُولُ: يَا رَبِّ أَصْحَابِي، فَيُقَالُ: لاَ تَدْرِي مَا أَحْدَثُوا بَعْدَكَ، فَأَقُولُ كَمَا قَالَ العَبْدُ الصَّالِحُ: {وَكُنْتُ عَلَيْهِمْ شَهِيدًا، مَا دُمْتُ فِيهِمْ}

In this narration, he is told “You do not know what they innovated after you.”

In another narration from Sahih Muslim it is mentioned that RasulAllah (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) will initially say: “They are from me!” attempting to intercede for them. And then when he is told “you do not know what they innovated after you,” he will say: “away (with them), away!” This behaviour clearly shows he will be initially unaware of their actions that they committed after his death.

In another version from Sahih al-Bukhari:

يَرِدُ عَلَى الحَوْضِ رِجَالٌ مِنْ أَصْحَابِي، فَيُحَلَّئُونَ عَنْهُ، فَأَقُولُ: يَا رَبِّ أَصْحَابِي، فَيَقُولُ: إِنَّكَ لاَ عِلْمَ لَكَ بِمَا أَحْدَثُوا بَعْدَكَ، إِنَّهُمُ ارْتَدُّوا عَلَى أَدْبَارِهِمْ القَهْقَرَى

In this narration, Allah will say to RasulAllah (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wasallam): “You have no knowledge of what they innovated after you.”

Note: Sa‘id ibn al-Musayyab narrated this marfoo‘ narration from several “companions” (ashāb) of RasulAllah (sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wasallam).

Note: This narration (in which certain people who the Prophet – sallAllaahu ‘alayhi wasallam – initially believed to be his true companions are driven away from the Hawd) was narrated with various wordings from a number of the Sahabah, including Ibn ‘Abbas, Abu Hurayrah, Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri, Sahl ibn Sa‘d, ‘A’ishah, Anas ibn Malik, ‘Abd Allah ibn Mas‘ud, Asma’ bint Abi Bakr, Hudhayfah ibn al-Yamān and Umm Salamah, all of which are found the Sahih of al-Bukhari, the Sahih of Muslim or both. Hence, this is a mutawātir narration, proving that the Prophet did not have some knowledge of the world even after the revelation of the Qur’an was complete.

In the end, we can safely say Munawwar’s challenge in no way offers any real challenges to correct Sunni doctrine, and in actual fact, merely reveals his own ignorance and fanaticism.

Refutation of Munawwar al-Barelwi and his Article on Ilm al-Ghayb

September 7, 2012

by Zameelur Rahman

A couple of errors:

1. On pages 9 – 11, he reproduces Ahmad Rida Khan’s argument that Qur’an 16:89 which states the Qur’an is an explanation of all things (kull shay’) is “a decisive proof that Allah gave our Messenger the knowledge of all creatures and all past and future events.” He bases this on “kull” (all) being general and “shay'” meaning “things brought into existence.” [I will ignore the point that if this were decisive (qat’i) in proving this claim, it contradicts his later comment that there is legitimate scope for disagreement when it comes to whether he possesses such knowledge or not, as it is disbelief to deny decisive evidence.] This tafsir, not only contradicts the exegesis of nearly all previous mufassirin and is thus innovated, but results in a contradiction:

On p. 6 he says no prophet was granted the knowledge the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) was granted and he says later that he is the most knowledgeable of all creation. However, Qur’an 6:154 and 7:145 says Musa was given tablets which was an “explanation of all things” (tafsilan li kulli shay), using the exact words (kull shay’) as 16:89. This means Musa (‘alayhi salam) also had the same knowledge as the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam). Qur’an 17:12 says “all things” were explained to humanity. Qur’an 18:84 says Dhu al-Qarnayn was given a “means” to all things; “means” according to the Salaf meant “knowledge” (‘ilm) – see Tabari’s tafsir on the verse. Hence, if based on the words “all things” in 16:89, it is determined the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) had complete knowledge of all created things, this is also established for Musa, Dhu al-Qarnayn, and all humanity.

The reality is, of course, “all things” refers to a specific set of things, and in the case of 16:89 “things which mankind are in need of for their religious affairs.” Al-Tabari narrated from Mujahid (student of Ibn ‘Abbas and expert mufassir from the Salaf) in the commentary of 16:89 with a sound chain that “all things” means “of what is lawful and unlawful” or “what is commanded and forbidden.” Al-Tabari also narrates from Ibn Mas’ud that he said, “Every science was revealed in this Qur’an and everything has been explained for us in the Qur’an.” However the chain of this narration is weak [Al-Qasim ibn Hasan, al-Tabari’s shaykh is unknown as mentioned in Mu’jam Shuyukh al-Tabari; the next narrator Husayn ibn Dawud, also called Sunayd is weak as mentioned by al-‘Asqalani in al-Taqrib and the narrator from Ibn Masud who is simply referred to as “a man” is unknown – hence, the chain is weak]. And although Ibn Kathir favoured this exegesis attributed to Ibn Mas’ud, he specifies Ibn Mas’ud’s statement to mean “every beneficial knowledge” which “mankind is in need of in the affairs of the world and the religion, their livelihood and their afterlife.” Al-Razi says in the tafsir of 16:89 it means all the principles of Islamic law and religion can be found in the Qur’an. He specifically excludes worldly knowledge from the interpretation of the verse. Baydawi says it means “from the matters of religion in detail or in summary by giving reference to Sunnah and Qiyas.” Jalalyan says “which mankind are in need of from the issues of Shari‘ah.” Ibn al-Jawzi, Baghawi, Khazin, Nasafi and other mufassirun say the same.

Hence, the claim that this verse is a decisive proof that the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) has complete knowledge of all created things and all events, is a ridiculous claim that is at odds with all recognised tafsirs. This claim was refuted by al-Barzanji in the printed copy of Ghayat al-Ma’mul.

2. On p. 21 onwards, he has a section on “Deobandi fatwas” of disbelief for those who believe the Prophet has knowledge of ghayb. However, either due to ignorance or dishonesty, he did not mention the fact that this is a traditional position, that the itlaq (unqalified usage) of the term “knowledge of ghayb” for any besides Allah is disbelief. It may be qualified by saying “knowledge given by Allah” or it may be referred to as “disclosure” (izhar) and not “knowledge” in which case it will be permissible; but its itlaq is not permissible. Ibn al-Humam and Ibn Abi Sharif say in al-Musamarah/al-Musayarah:

Similar is knowledge of the ghayb, i.e. the absence of knowledge of the ghayb is just like the absence of knowledge of some issues. Hence, the Prophet does not know thereof except what Allah (Exalted is He) informed him occasionally. The Hanafis have mentioned explicitly in their furu‘ (secondary laws of jurisprudence) that the belief that the Prophet knows the ghayb is disbelief due to conflict with His statement (Exalted is He) “Say; None in the heavens nor on earth besides Allah knows the ghayb” (27:65).

(وكذا علم المغيبات) أي وكعدم علم بعض المسائل عدم علم المغيبات فلا يعلم النبي منها (إلا ما أعلمه تعالى به أحيانا وذكر الحنفية) في فروعهم (تصريحا بالتكفير باعتقاد أن النبي يعلم الغيب لمعارضة قوله تعالى قل لا يعلم من فى السموات والأرض الغيب إلا الله) الله أعلم

كتاب المسامرة في شرح المسايرة في علم الكلام ٢: ٨٦ –


On p 6, he quotes al-Kattani as saying “there is no disagreement among the people of knowledge, that is the entirety of them, that he, upon him be peace and blessings, was informed by Allah Most High about a large quantity of unseen matters” (la khilafa bayna ahli al-‘ilmi kullihim fi annahu ‘alayhi al-salatu wa al-salam kana mu’allaman min qibali Allah ta’ala bi al-mughayyabat al-kathirah) and he concludes from this sentence, “there is no dispute amongst Muslim theologians…our Prophet (Allah give him peace and blessings) had knowledge of the unseen.”

Al-Kattani’s description “was informed by Allah of a large quantity of unseen matters” is changed to “had knowledge of the unseen.” This is significant in terms of his quotes from the Deobandi scholars as they consider the latter statement disbelief but not the former. Al-Kattani himself recognises a difference between “being informed of the unseen” and “having knowledge of the unseen,” as he quotes Ibn Hajar al-Haythami as saying in his al-Fatawa al-Hadithiyyah:

None but Allah knows the unseen (ghayb). Although, others besides Him know particulars of it, it is by His revelation and disclosure to them. Therefore, it is not [permissible] to say without qualification that they know the unseen, since they have no attribute by which they can independently know it. Moreover, they do not know, but were taught. Moreover, they were not taught the unseen in absolute terms because whoever is informed something from it, the Prophets and their peers who have been shown [that knowledge] participate with him in it [i.e. in having that knowledge – therefore it is not “absolute unseen”].”

لا يعلم الغيب إلا هو ومن سواه إن علموا جزئيات منه فهو بإعلامه واطلاعه لهم وحينئذ لا يطلق أنهم يعلمون الغيب إذ لا صفة لهم يقتدرون بها على الاستقلال بعلمه وأيضا هم ما علموا وإنما علموا وأيضا هم ما علموا غيبا مطلقا لأن من أعلم بشيء منه يشاركه فيه الأنبياء ونظراؤه ممن اطلع

Shah Wali Allah al-Dihlawi wrote: “It should be known that it is necessary to negate from [the Prophets] the attributes of the Necessary (Exalted is His Glory) like knowledge of the ghayb, power over the creation of the world etc.” (Al-Tafhimat al-Ilahiyyah)

ليعلم أنه يجب أن ينفى عنهم صفات الواجب جل مجده من العلم بالغيب والقدرة على خلق العالم إلى غير ذلك


Regarding his definition of ghayb in the introduction, his purpose is to prove that it is permissible to say “so-and-so has knowledge of the ghayb,” however the quotes he uses to prove this are decontextualised and may in fact give a very different meaning:

He quotes al-Razi saying: “If it is said: do people know the unseen or not? Our reply is: we previously mentioned that the unseen is divided into that which has evidence to it and that which does not have evidence to it. As for that unseen which has no evidence to it, Allah alone has knowledge of it, and that which has evidence to it, it is not inaccurate to say we know the unseen to which there is evidence.”

Al-Razi wrote this in reply to an objection that if in the verse (Qur’an 2:3), “ghayb” is taken to mean the unseen, it would imply its itlaq(i.e. applying it without qualification) to people would be correct but this is in conflict with verse 6:59 amongst others. He replies:

If it is asked: Do you say “a servant knows the unseen” or not? We say: We have explained that the unseen divides into that for which there is proof and that for which there is no proof. As for the one for which there is no proof, then He (Glorified and Exalted is He) knows of it, and none besides Him; and as for the one which there is proof for, it is not wrong for you to say: “We know from the unseen that for which we have a proof.” This sentence is clear in its expression so is not confused [with knowledge of the type of unseen exclusive to Allah]. Based on this reason, the scholars have said: Adducing evidence using the one who was present against the one who was absent is one of the types of evidences.
إن قيل أفتقولون: العبد يعلم الغيب أم لا؟ قلنا قد بينا أن الغيب ينقسم إلى ما عليه دليل وإلى ما لا دليل عليه أما الذي لا دليل عليه فهو سبحانه وتعالى العالم به لا غيره، وأما الذي عليه دليل فلا يمتنع أن تقول: نعلم من الغيب ما لنا عليه دليل، ويفيد الكلام فلا يلتبس، وعلى هذا الوجه قال العلماء: الاستدلال بالشاهد على الغائب أحد أقسام الأدلة

The highlighted part is critical as it shows al-Razi does not allow its itlaq for people, but says it must be qualified so as to avoid confusion with the type of ghayb exclusive to Allah in the manner he showed – by saying “we know from the unseen that for which we have a proof” and not just “we know the unseen.” In other words, al-Razi says only when this qualification is made, that we know the ghayb for which there is evidence, are we permitted to say this. Hence, the conclusion drawn from al-Razi’s statement in the above article “We are allowed to attribute knowledge of the unseen to humans” is not sound based on what he said.

Mawlana Thanawi in Hifz al-Iman at the start of his answer makes a similar point:

“Ghayb” in absolute terms according to its unqualified usage (itlaq) in the Shari’ah is meant that unseen matter for which no evidence has been erected, nor is there a medium or a means to its perception. For this reason, “None in the Heavens and the earth know the ghayb besides Allah” (27:65), “If I were to know the ghayb…” (7:188) and other such verses were revealed. To call that knowledge acquired through a medium “ghayb” requires a qualification (qarinah) [to explain the intent is that ghayb acquired through a medium], for to use the knowledge of ghayb for creation without qualification may be conceived as shirk [as it may be confused with the type of ghayb that is exclusive to Allah, i.e. that for which there is no evidence] and is thus prohibited and impermissible.

Mutlaq ghayb sey murad itlaqat shar‘iyyah meyh wehi ghayb hey jispur ko’i dalil qa’im neh ho or uskey idrak keliye koi wasitah or sabil neh ho. Isi bana pur “la ya‘lamu man fi al-samawati wa al-ard al-ghayba illa Allah” or “law kuntu a‘lam al-ghayb” wa ghayrah furmaya giya hey. Or jo ‘ilm bi wasitah ho is pur ghayb ka itlaq muhtaj qarinah hey to bila qarinah makhluq pur ‘ilm ghayb ka itlaq muham shirk ho ney kiwajh sey mamnu‘ wan a ja’iz ho ga (Hifz al-Iman p. 14)

‘Allamah al-Kawthari, who is mentioned in the above article, also made the same point where he said “knowledge by means of disclosure from Allah is not from the [real definition of] ghayb at all” (العلم بإعلام الله لا يكون من الغيب في شيء), as once there is a means to its knowledge it is technically no longer ghayb.

Al-Zamakhshari also made the same point: “We only know of it [i.e. ghayb] that which we were made to know, or a proof for it was erected for us, and for this [reason] it is not permissible to say without qualification “So-and-so knows the ghayb.””

وإنما نعلم منه نحن ما أعلمناه، أو نصب لنا دليلاً عليه. ولهذا لا يجوز أن يطلق فيقال: فلان يعلم الغيب


The quote that he produces from al-Raghib al-Asfahani was said specifically about the usage of the word “ghayb” in Qur’an 2:3. In this definition, he is referring to the ghayb that is obligatory for everyone to believe according to Qur’an 2:3, not the general usage of the word ghayb. Here is a fuller translation of al-Raghib al-Asfahani’s definition of ghayb:

Ghayb is a verbal noun of [ghaba in the sentence] “the sun went out of sight (ghabat)” etc. when it is concealed from the eye. It is said: “Such-and-such was hidden (ghaba) from me.” He Almighty said [quoting Sulayman (peace be upon him)]: “Or is he [i.e. Hudhud] from the absent ones (gha’ibin)?” (27:20).It [i.e. ghayb] is used for everything hidden from the senses and all that is hidden from the knowledge of people in the sense of [being] absent. He said: “There is nothing of the hidden in the heaven and earth except [it is] in a clear book.” (27:75)

It is said of a thing [that it is] “unseen” (ghayb) and “hidden” (gha’ib) by its consideration with [respect to] people, not with Allah Almighty, for nothing is hidden from Him, as an atom’s weight in the heavens and earth do not escape Him (Qur’an 34:2). His statement “Knower of the unseen and seen” (6:73) i.e. what is hidden from you [not Him] and what you see.

The “unseen” (ghayb) in His statement: “they believe in the unseen” (2:3) [refers to] that which does not fall below the senses (hawass) and the starting point of the intellects (bidayat al-‘uqul) do not necessitate it; and it is only known by the report of the Prophets (upon them peace); and by its rejection the term “apostasy” (ilhad) applies to a person. (Raghib al-Asfahani, al-Mufradat, Maktaba Nazar Mustafa al-Baz, 2:475)

The “definition” that he uses therefore is specifically regarding its use in the abovementioned verse.


Within the second category of ghayb in al-Razi’s classification (the one for which there is evidence and can be applied to people), that information which is hidden to some but known to others by sense perception is also included. For example, the Qur’an says of the stories of Maryam, Nuh and Yusuf that they are from the “tales of ghayb” (3:44, 11:49, 12:102), although these stories are only ghayb with respect to the people around the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam), not the previous peoples who witnessed the events described. Hence, Mawlana Thanawi’s assessment, that with respect to this kind of ghayb, for which there is evidence and there is a means to its perception, it can be applied to everyone, “because every person has some knowledge which is hidden to another” (kyunkeh her shakhs ko kisi ne kisi eysi bat ka ‘ilm hota jo dusre shakhs sey makhfi hey) is sound. Jurjani/Iji make the same argument to disprove the view of the philosophers that knowledge of ghayb is a special quality of prophets.


An example of a clear error or dishonesty is his comment:

He [Shah Ismail] wrote on p. 103, “Whether such person believes he knows this intrinsically or through knowledge granted by Allah, in all cases shirk is established” Here we notice that Dihlawi denied even the attribution of granted knowledge of the unseen (ilm ata’i) from creation.

In Taqwiyat al-Iman, this statement “whether such person believes he knows this intrinsically or through knowledge granted by Allah” is not about “knowledge of the unseen” as claimed in the article but – in the Arabic translation of Abu al-Hasan al-Nadwi – it is about: “encompassing knowledge inclusive of every time and place from which the weight of an atom is not hidden – an attribute exclusive to Allah.” (al-‘ilm al-muhit al-shamil li kulli zamanin wa makan alladhi la ya’zubu ‘anhu mithqalu dharrah, sifatun khassatun bi Allah) (Risalat al-Tawhid, tarjamatu Tawqiyat al-Iman, Lucknow, p. 35) So when he says “whether such person believes he knows this intrinsically or through knowledge granted by Allah, it is shirk” he is referring to attributing such total and complete knowledge to any creature.

This definition of ghayb is expressed clearly in Imam al-Nasafi’s (d. 710) Tafsir:

الغيب هو ما لم يقم عليه دليل ولا أطلع عليه مخلوق

Ghayb is that for which no evidence has been erected and no creation has comprehended it.”

Based on this definition, none of creation has knowledge of ghayb, and to say they do is shirk as such ghayb is possessed only by Allah, and thus the belief that it is possessed by another is kufr as stated by the Hanafi imams. Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari said in Sharh al-Fiqh al-Akbar:

“In sum, knowledge of ghayb is a matter exclusive Him – Glorified is He – and there is no path for the servants to it.”

بالجملة فالعلم بالغيب أمر تفرد به سبحانه ولا سبيل للعباد إليه

And a little later he wrote:

“Know that the Prophets (upon them blessing and peace) do not know the unseen matters (mughayyabat) of things except what Allah has taught them from time to time. The Hanafis have mentioned with clear statements that by believing the Prophet (upon him blessing and peace) knew the unseen one is declared a disbeliever due to conflict with His (Exalted is He) statement: “Say: None in the heavens and earth knows the unseen but Allah.””

اعلم أن الأنبياء عليهم الصلاة والسلام لم يعلموا المغيبات من الأشياء إلا ما أعلمهم الله أحيانا ، وذكر الحنفية تصريحا بالتكفير باعتقاد أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم يعلم الغيب لمعارضة قوله تعالى قل لا يعلم من في السماوات والأرض الغيب إلا الل

Regarding his “analysis” of the discussion on ‘ilm al-ghayb from al-Barahin al-Qati’ah on pp. 18-9:

The book al-Barahin al-Qati’ah is available here and the discussion can be found on pages 53-7. Al-Barahin al-Qati’ah is written as a polemic against ‘Abd al-Sami Rampuri’s Anwar Sati’ah which runs along the top of the page in al-Barahin. It would therefore be misleading to quote stand alone statements from al-Barahin without taking account of what arguments and evidences were offered in Anwar Satiah which theBarahin is addressing.

Rampuri says (from p. 179 onwards of above copy): An attribute can only be described as being particular (khass) to Allah if it is found in Allah alone and no other. Having knowledge of the entire world is not peculiar to Allah and is therefore not a particular attribute of His such that associating another in it equates to shirk. He then mentions a number of reports which indicate the Angel of Death is present and knowing of everything on earth. E.g. Tabari narrated under the commentary of 6:61 and 32:11 via a number of chains that Mujahid (the student of Ibn ‘Abbas) said: “The earth is made like a large round vessel (tast) before the Angel of Death and he takes from wherever he wishes; and he was appointed helpers who take the souls and then he takes them from them.” Many similar reports stating the Angel of Death has complete knowledge of the earth and the people residing in it from the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam), Ibn ‘Abbas and others were mentioned by al-Suyuti in al-Durr al-Manthur under the commentary of 32:11 and in his Sharh al-Sudur which Rampuri refers to.

Rampuri concludes that that the Angel of Death is present in every place on earth. He then says if it is argued the Angel of Death is a high ranking Angel, then the example of the shaytan being present (mawjud) in every place (har jagah) can also be used. He quotes from al-Durr al-Mukhtar where it says the shaytan is present with every person, and then he quotes Ibn ‘Abidin’s commentary: “Allah has given him ability over that [i.e. to be with every son of Adam] just as he gave the Angel of Death the ability of the like of that.” (Radd al-Muhtar – وأقدره على ذلك ، كما أقدر ملك الموت على نظير ذلك)

After this, Rampuri gives the example of the sun and moon being everywhere visible on earth. And he says “since the sun is present in every place while it is in the lower heaven, the soul of the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) that is above the seven heavens in the ‘Illiyyin, if his gaze from there falls on the whole earth or many places thereof…what impossibility is there?” (p. 180) He clarifies at this point that although the Prophet’s soul is in the ‘Illiyyin it has a strong connection with his physical body in the grave. He further states, that since the Angel of Death, shaytan, sun and moon can be present and visible in all places on earth, this is not a unique (khas) attribute of Allah, and because of the Prophet’s superiority he is also endowed with this quality; but he clarifies that the claim is not made that the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) is like the shaytan in being present at and knowing the despicable places of kufr and fisq (p. 181).

In response to this, Mawlana Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri, clarifies what is particular and unique (khas) for Allah in His attributes (p. 53 onwards of the Barahin linked above). He starts by saying: “The entire ummah (tamam ummat) has this belief that whatever quantity of knowledge the revered Pride of the World (upon him peace) and all creation were granted by Allah Almighty, to affirm an atom’s weight more knowledge is shirk. This is known from all books of Shari’ah. Allah Almighty says: “To Him belongs the Keys to the Unseen, none but He knows them.” (6:59).” (p. 53) He then quotes the passage from al-Durr al-Mukhtar, Fatawa Alamgiriyya and al-Bahr al-Ra’iq to the effect that if a person were to make Allah and His Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) witness to his marriage he becomes a disbeliever for attributing knowledge of the ghayb to him – which in this case refers to knowledge for which there is no evidence and was not revealed, and thus attributing such knowledge to him must be with the belief that it is intrinsic to him and was not granted. Al-Saharanpuri then says that it is not only by equating his knowledge with Allah’s knowledge that will make this belief shirk but even believing he has knowledge of the marriage session for which there is no proof. He then clarifies what is meant by the particularity of Allah’s attributes contrary to what was stated by Rampuri: “The belief of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama‘ah is that none of Allah Almighty’s attributes are found in His bondsmen. Those things which are the shadow of His attributes which He bestows on anyone, no one has the ability to ever increase on them. Hearing and sight, knowledge and power, are real only for Allah Almighty and metaphorical for creation: “Nothing is like unto Him, and He is All-Hearing, All-Seeing” (Qur’an 42:11). Thus whoever has been given whatever quantity of knowledge, power etc., he cannot increase that in the slightest. That quantity which was given to the shaytan, and the Angel of Death and the sun and the moon in which state they were created, they [themselves] have no power to increase on them; and more [than the quantity which was given to them] will not emerge from their actions. Greater or lesser virtue is not dependent on this greater or lesser quantity [given by Allah]. Hazrat Musa upon him peace was much greater and more virtuous than Hazrat Khidr upon him peace. Despite this, in the knowledge of unveiling (kashf) he was much less than Hazrat Khidr. Even then that quantity received by Hazrat Khidr, he has no power to have more than that, and despite Hazrat Musa’s superiority he did not receive it; he could not create [in himself] knowledge of unveiling equal to the inferior Hazrat Khidr. Moreover, [regarding] the sun and moon, the form and vast light upon which they were created and the expanse of the knowledge given to the Angel of Death and shaytan, this condition is known by evident eye-witnessing and clear texts. Now, to make an analogy with them of one more virtuous that the like of what is in this inferior being is present in him it is not the job of any sane person of knowledge.” (pp. 54-5) [after this, comes the paragraphs quoted by Nuh Keller and Munawwar Atiq]

It is clear throughout this discussion that al-Saharanpuri is concerned with attributing such knowledge to any creature which is believed to be possessed by him intrinsically as it has not been established he was granted it by Allah. This is made very clear on p. 56 where he directly challenges Rampuri’s definition of particular (khass): “The particularity of Allah Almighty’s knowledge is that it is intrinsic and real (zati, haqiqi) the consequence of which is encompassment of all things while the knowledge of all creation is metaphorical (majazi) and shadowy (zilli) according to the quantity granted by Allah Almighty.” He then states just because the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) is in the ‘Illiyyin and better than Angels, this does not at all establish his expansive knowledge of worldly matters. Importantly, he concludes his remarks by saying that there are two possibilities for the belief of the author (Rampuri): either it is pure ignorance (jahl mahz) because he establishes such granted knowledge for the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) on the basis of such invalid analogy, but he states clearly that this view is not shirk as it is not believed he possessed it intrinsically; or if the possession of such knowledge is not established, then to affirm it for him is shirk as it implies the knowledge is real and intrinsic. (pp. 56-7)

From this last section, it is clear and leaves no room for doubt, what exactly Mawlana Saharanpuri considered shirk – i.e. affirmation of knowledge for a creature in spite of evidence as this suggests belief in intrinsic knowledge for that creature which is exclusive to Allah; and he states that this is the belief of the ignorant (jeysa juhala ka ye aqidah hey) (p. 57)

Now that the context is clearly understood, Mawlana Saharanpuri’s statement in question on p. 55 can be appreciated. Nuh Keller’s article translates it as follows: “The upshot is that we should carefully note that if, after seeing the state of Satan and the Angel of Death, we affirm that the Pride of the World (upon whom be blessings and peace) has all-encompassing vast knowledge of the earthly sphere (ilm muhit zamin), contravening without proof decisive scriptural texts and proceeding solely from false analogy, then if this is not outright shirk, how should it be a part of faith? Such vastness [of knowledge] is established for Satan and the Angel of Death through scriptural texts. Through what decisive scriptural text has the Pride of the World’s vastness of knowledge been established, that one should affirm an act of shirk by rejecting all scriptural texts?” In his analysis Nuh Keller falls into the trap that is intended by selectively quoting this passage without context; he says: “It is difficult to see how the attribute of knowledge that Khalil Ahmad ascribes to Satan and the Angel of Death should become “shirk” when affirmed of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace): either it is a divine attribute that is shirk to ascribe to any creature, or it is not.” The reason it is shirk when affirmed for the Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) is exactly what he states in that paragraph, that in the absence of evidence when such knowledge is affirmed for the Prophet (salllallahu ‘alayhi wasallam), because it suggests intrinsic knowledge which is exclusive to Allah, it is shirk. In the case of the Angel of Death and satan, however, such knowledge is confirmed by transmitted reports and is therefore acknowledged as granted knowledge and there is no chance of shirk. This explanation of the passage (which is clear in context and only misunderstood when isolated) was also clarified by Mawlana Husayn Ahmad Madani in al-Shihab al-Thaqib in his refutation of Ahmad Rida Khan’s misrepresentation of Barahin.


Now that the context is understood and the passages from Barahin can be properly appreciated, it is possible to demonstrate Ahmad Rida Khan’s and the article above’s deception:

Ahmad Rida Khan wrote in Husam al-Haramayn: “Indeed he has stated explicitly in his book al-Barahin al-Qati‘ah…that their shaykh Iblis is more expansive in knowledge than Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace).” – innahu sarraha fi kitabihi al-Barahin al-Qati‘ah…bianna shaykhahum Iblis awsa‘u ‘ilman min Rasul Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam. He also quotes from Nasim al-Riyad: “Whoever says so-and-so is more learned (a‘lam) than Allah’s Messenger, he has insulted and degraded him so he is an insulter so his ruling is the ruling of an insulter.” He also translates a sentence from Barahin as follows: “This vastness in knowledge is established for shaytan and the Angel of Death by clear text, and which clear text is there on the vastness of the knowledge of Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) such that all texts are rejected thereby to establish one shirk?” (inna hadhih al-si’ata fi al-‘ilmu thabatat li al-shaytani wa malak al-mawt bi al-nass, wa ayyu nassin qat’iyy fi si’ati ‘ilmi rasul Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam hatta turaddu bihi al-nusus jami’an wa yuthbatu shirk)

Ahmad Rida Khan therefore wanted to suggest that Barahin says in absolute terms (mutlaqan) that the shaytan has more knowledge than the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam); however, the passage is clear in referring to “encompassing knowledge of the earthly sphere” (ilm muhit zamin). And when he says “this vastness” (yeh wus’at) it refers to knowledge of the earth, not knowledge in general. This is absolutely clear from the passage, yet Ahmad Rida blatantly misrepresented it said it is “explicitly clear” (sarih) in stating the shaytan has more knowledge (awsa’u ‘ilman) than the Prophet; and his quote from Nasim al-Riyad confirms this. Moreover, he quotes from halfway through a paragraph so the impression is given that “this knowledge” (hadha al-‘ilm) refers to all types of knowledge and not just knowledge of the earthly sphere. Al-Muhannad ‘ala al-Mufannad of al-Saharanpuri also mentions this deception of Ahmad Rida: “our discussion about it was only in regards to some of these temporal particulars [i.e. ilm muhit zamin], and for this reason we used the demonstrative noun to indicate that the objective in affirmation and negation there was those particulars, and nothing besides [them]. However, the iniquitous distort the speech and do not fear the reckoning of the Knowing King.”

This is therefore a clear example of Ahmad Rida distorting the meaning of the text, which his Berelwi followers have to answer for. Munawwar Atiq also states “the authors of Baraheen claimed Satan’s knowledge was greater than the Noble Prophet’s,” which is an obvious falsehood, as the Barahin only states that in the encompassing knowledge of the earth satan’s knowledge is more expansive, not that in general it can be stated his knowledge is greater than the Prophet’s (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam). Munawwar Atiq would also have committed kufr by his own standards as he states: “[al-Saharanpuri] argu[ed] Satan had such knowledge and was therefore more knowledgeable,” – the phrase “and was therefore more knowledgeable” is an insertion from him suggesting he believes if the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) did not have encompassing knowledge of the earth, satan would be more knowledgeable; now, he believes the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) only gained this knowledge later in his life not early in his prophethood, which means according to him it can be said “satan was more knowledgeable than the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) before this point!” This backfiring of their argument was explained by Mawlana Madani in al-Shihab al-Thaqib. Based on Mawlana Sahanpuri’s contention that absolute vastness of knowledge is not in the physical realm but in the spiritual realm, the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) would always have been the most knowledgeable regardless of his knowledge of the world.

Moreover, Rampuri in Anwar Sati’a clearly states that the shaytan is present in such places that are abhorrent while the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) is not present in such places. Would this now equate to favouring the satan over the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam)? And why was not a fatwa of kufr placed on him? Mawlana Safdar asks this in Ibarat Akabir (p. 161).


Munawwar said: “these authors…committed shirk according to their own standard by proving vast knowledge for Satan – which they considered shirk when proven for the Prophet (Allah give him peace and blessings).” This has been answered above based on the context of the entire passage being about the haqiqi (real) and dhati (intrinsic) knowledge being particular (khas) to Allah. When such knowledge is affirmed without evidence for the Prophet (salllallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) it implies dhati knowledge and is therefore shirk. When it is affirmed for the satan it is via transmitted proof that Allah granted him this ability and knowledge so is not shirk.

He then said: “[They] violated their own standard for accepting textual evidences in aqidah as they offered a baseless report to establish an aqidah point that the Noble Prophet (Allah give him peace and blessings) did not possess knowledge of the unseen whereas they themselves demanded decisive textual proof to prove the vast knowledge of our Prophet (Allah give him peace and blessings)!”

These reports were given as examples. That the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) does not know the unseen is established in several verses of the Qur’an. Moreover, al-Saharanpuri’s quotation of the statement “I do not know what will be done to me,” is in fact mutawatiras it is established in the Qur’an that this was his statement (46:9). Regarding Ahmad Rida’s diatribe in Husam al-Haramayn that al-Saharanpuri quoted the narration “I do not know what is behind a wall,” from Shaykh ‘Abd al-Haqq while the latter refuted it himself; the book al-Saharanpuri quoted from was Ashi’at al-Lam’at in which ‘Abd al-Haqq used it in the context of proof, whereas he rejected it in another book. Mulla ‘Ali Qari also uses this narration in his Mirqat as a proof; although it is no doubt baseless. However, its meaning is sound, that, unless taught by Allah, he does not know what is behind a wall, and this is what ‘Abd al-Haqq said in Ashi’at al-Lam’at.

Furthermore, there are many narrations in which the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) denied knowledge of worldly matters. He said: “You are more knowledgeable of the matters of your world.” (Muslim) Mulla Qari said under the commentary of this hadith: “In the hadith is an indication that he (upon him blessing and peace) does not generally pay attention but to the matters of the afterlife.” With respect to the narration from Tirmidhi “I knew whatever is in the heavens and earth,” Mulla Qari says it must be restricted to particular important matters of the world. He said: ““I knew whatever is in the heavens and earth,” meaning whatever Allah (Exalted is He) gave him knowledge of, of what is in them [i.e. the heavens and the earth] of angels, trees etc. and it is an expression about the expanse of his knowledge which Allah opened for him. Ibn Hajar [al-Haythami] said: “Meaning, all existents which are in the heavens, rather and what is above them, as is acquired from the story of Mi‘raj, and ‘the earth’ is in the sense of genus, i.e. and all that is in the seven earths, rather what is below them.” I say: It is possible by ‘heavens’ is meant the upper direction and by ‘earth’ the lower direction so it includes all. However, the restriction that we mentioned [of angels, trees and the like] is necessary, since it is not proper to unqualifiedly use “all” (jami‘) [for the knowledge of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace)] as is apparent.” (quoted in al-Kawkab al-Durri 4:250-1) The reason this is improper is probably because it contradicts other clear texts showing the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) did not have full knowledge of the earthly sphere, and also because it would imply he is aware of the filthy knowledge associated with this world which is unfitting for him.

Munawwar said: “These authors in fact openly argued that the Noble Prophet’s knowledge (Allah give him peace and blessings) was so limited that he did not even have knowledge of his own fate (Allah forbid!).” They did not say this, but quoted a narration stating “I do not know what will be done to me.” Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani said this may mean that detailed knowledge of what will happen to him in the afterlife was denied him while brief (mujmal) knowledge that he will enter paradise was given to him.


The important points to note from the above is Mawlana Saharanpuri’s attribution of shirk in this passage, if read in context, is clearly with respect to believing this in the absence of evidence which suggests intrinsic knowledge; he even mentions explicitly that if it is believed such complete and encompassing knowledge of the world is granted by Allah to him (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) it is not shirk but is ignorance. Therefore the allegation that he committed shirk based on his own standard by affirming such knowledge for satan is a distortion of the meaning of this passage. Moreover, Ahmad Rida lied when he claimed al-Saharanpuri explicitly stated (sarraha) that satan’s knowledge is more expansive than the Prophet’s, as al-Saharanpuri only said this in relation to encompassing knowledge of the world, and not in absolute terms. In absolute terms, he has clearly stated in al-Muhannad, no one is more knowledgeable than the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam); as he is the most learned about Allah (ana a’lamukum bi Allah – Bukhari).


With regards to the story of Khidr and Musa, Imam al-Razi stated: “It is possible that a non-prophet is superior to a prophet in sciences/knowledge upon which his prophethood does not depend.”

يجوز أن يكون غير النبي فوق النبي في علوم لا تتوقف نبوته عليها


Regarding his “analysis” of the passage from Hifz al-Iman on p. 19, Munawwar concludes: “The careful reader notices that Thanawi claimed the Noble Prophet’s (Allah give him peace and blessings) partial knowledge was not a unique speciality. How did he deny this? It was by comparing Prophetic Knowledge to that of lowly creatures, every layman and insane people.”

The first sentence is true but the last sentence, “it was by comparing Prophetic Knowledge to that of lowly creatures,” is not. The quote from Hifz al-Iman does not make any comparison (tashbih) of prophetic knowledge; i.e. he does not say “the knowledge of the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) was like the knowledge of so-and-so.” Rather, he said “such knowledge of the unseen (eysa ‘ilm gayb) is possessed by so-and-so.” By “such knowledge of the unseen” is not meant “prophetic knowledge of the unseen” or knowledge possessed by the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) as Ahmad Rida and Munawwar miscontrued it, but refers to “partial knowledge of the unseen” (ba’z ‘ulum ghaybiyya).

Ahmad Rida said in Husam al-Haramayn: “He [i.e. Mawlana Thanawi] stated explicitly (sarraha) in it [i.e. Hifz al-Iman] that the knowledge of unseen matters [possessed] by Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace), the equivalent of it has been acquired by every child and madman…” (sarraha fiha bi anna al-‘ilm alladhi li Rasul Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam bi al-mughayyabat fainna mithlahi hasilun li kulli sabiyyin wa kulli majnun). Note: he says this meaning is explicitly clear (sarih). A little later he writes “Look…how he makes [the knowledge of] Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) equal to so-and-so and so-and-so.” For a sentence to be sarih it means no other meaning is possible. However, although the word eysa may mean the “exact equivalent” (mithl) as Ahmad Rida translated it (fa inna mithla hadha al-‘ilm bi al-ghayb…), it can also mean “this type” of knowledge. In other words, the passage from Hifz al-Iman could either mean the knowledge of unseen possessed by the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) is possessed by those others (the meaning which Ahmad Rida imputed to him) or the type of partial knowledge of unseen is possessed by those others; the latter meaning is specified by the sentence immediately after (which Ahmad Rida did not quote while including translations of sections before and after it, and Munawwar does not quote it either although it is present in Nuh Keller’s article): “For every individual knows something that is hidden from another individual” (kyunkeh hur shaks ko kisi ne kisi eysi bat ka ilm hota hey jo dosre shaks sey makhfi hey). If this was not clear enough, Mawlana Thanawi was asked the question, did you say “knowledge of the unseen just as it is possessed by the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam), the same is possessed by every child, madman…” (the questioner says this was the allegation made by Ahmad Rida) (ghayb ki batoh ka ilm jesa ke janab Rasul Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam ko hey eysa hurr buchchoh…). Mawlana Thanawi replied, he nowhere wrote this and this revolting (khabis) thought did not even cross his mind. He then explains what is meant by the word “eysa“: “the intent of the word eysa was not that the knowledge that is actually possessed by him has been acquired by so-and-so, Allah’s refuge is sought from this, rather the intent of this word eysa is that which was mentioned above i.e. in general partial knowledge [of the unseen].” (lafz eysa ka yeh matlab nehi keh jeysa ‘ilm waqi’ meh huzur sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam ko hasil hey ilakh na’uzu bi Allah minha bulkeh murad is lafz eysa sey wuhi hey jo uper mazkur hey ya’ni mutlaq ba’z ‘ilm). This answer was printed together with Hifz al-Iman under the title Bast al-Banan in the year 1329 H/1911 AD, more than a decade before the death of Ahmad Rida, yet he did not acknowledge it, let alone retract from his original statements. This demonstrates Ahmad Rida had no intention to “correct” the aqidah of supposedly misguided people, but rather to deceive others into believing certain people committed acts of disbelief though they are innocent of these charges.

In sum, the sentence is not explcitly clear (sarih) in the meaning Ahmad Rida falsely claimed, rather the other meaning explained above is also a possible meaning of the sentence and is in fact the most obvious meaning from the context (as Thanawi also states in Bast al-Banan).


Munawwar says: “[He] ignored the crucial point that virtue was not restricted to full knowledge (kull ghayb), but in fact, even partial knowledge was virtuous.”

The discussion in Hifz al-Iman is about unrestrictedly using (itlaq) the term “knowledge of ghayb” for the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam). He said in its technical meaning no one can share this designation with Allah as it means knowledge for which there is no evidence or means. In its non-technical definition, which includes knowledge which is absent from some but available to others (as evidenced by Qur’an 3:44, 11:49, 12:102), everyone has some of this knowledge. To specify the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) with the designation of possessing knowledge of the ghayb (itlaq ‘ilm al-ghayb) and thereby distinguishing him from the rest of creation is incorrect as he does not possess complete knowledge of it, and partial knowledge is not unique to him. This was also mentioned in books of Kalam in response to philosophers who claimed prophets are distinguished by knowledge of ghayb; see for example the quote from Sharh al-Mawaqif translated here. Similarly, Mahmud ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Isfihani (674-749 H) wrote in his commentary of Baydawi’s Tawali’ al-Anwar: “The philosophers with respect to the religious law, took the position that a prophet is one who has been identified as having three specific characteristics: a) he is one who is well-acquainted with the unseen…If the philosophers meant by ‘being well-acquainted,’ an acquaintance with all the unseen, then by consensus that would not be a condition for an individual to be a prophet. If they mean by it an acquaintance with only some of the unseen things, then that [also] would not specifically designate a prophet, since everyone might admissibly have an acquaintance with some of these unseen things.” (translation by James W. Pollock, available here p. 962)

Thanawi’s point therefore that the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) is not distinguished in the possession of this non-technical type of ghayb is sound, based on the same reasoning used by ‘Adud al-Din al-Iji and Mahmud al-Isfihani. Uniquely designating him with knowledge of the unseen therefore is inaccurate.

Munawwar’s argument, “For example, the degrees among ulama are considered virtuous even though their knowledge is partial,” is therefore irrelevant as the discussion is about uniquely designating the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) with knowledge of the unseen. A better illustration of Mawlana Thanawi’s argument would be to say: It would not be accurate to claim only so-and-so is blessed with knowledge, since he does not have complete knowledge by agreement and his partial knowledge is shared with others.


His discussion regarding Shah Isma’il’s position on pp. 19-21 is taken mostly from Gibril Haddad’s unfortunate review, the flaws in which can be found here. And his quotations from Deobandi authors on pp. 21-2 stating that the belief that a creature possesses knowledge of theghayb is kufr and shirk is clearly justified by the statements of the scholars quoted in above posts – “ghayb” technically means that knowledge to which there is no evidence and means, and such knowledge belongs only to Allah, so to attribute it unqualifiedly/unrestrictedly/absolutely (mutlaqan – i.e. without qualificaiton) to another is shirk.


Regarding his quotation from Shah Isma’il on p. 20, “If someone asks about the number of leaves on a tree or the number of stars in the sky, then one should not say “Allah and His Messenger know” because only Allah knows the unseen, what does the Messenger know [about them]?”

The full passage (from the recent English tr. which is consistent with the older English tr., the Arabic tr. and the original Urdu):

It is narrated in Sharh As-Sunnah by Hudhaifa {May Allah have mercy on him} that the Prophet {peace be upon Him} said:”Do not say, what Allah and Muhammad {Peace be upon Him} wished, but you should only say, what Allah wished.”

It means that none of the creatures has a say in the matters concerning Divinity, no matter how great and close one that creature could be. For instance, one should never say that if Allah and His Messenger wished, it should happen so, since all the things in the world happen by the Will of Allah only and not by the will of the Prophet. If someone enquires of you as to what a person really conceals in his heart, or when that person shall be marrying or how many leaves that particular tree bears or how many stars are there up in the heavens, never respond to him by saying that these things are only known by Allah and His Prophet, as the knowledge of the unseen rests with Allah and not with His Prophet. However, there is no harm if someone says such a thing in regard to the religious matters as Allah has given a full knowledge of religion to His Prophet and has commanded people to comply with the instructions of His Prophet. (p. 129)

This statement is confirmed by the Hanafi texts which clearly state that if somebody says the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) is witness of the marriage session, he has disbelieved, as he attributed the unseen to other than Allah – and Shah Isma’il specifically mentions marriage, as well as other worldly details, amongst the things knowledge of which cannot be attributed to him unconditionally. [As Ibn Nujaym quotes the Hanafi fatwa books: وفي الخانية والخلاصة لو تزوج بشهادة الله ورسوله لا ينعقد ويكفر لاعتقاده أن النبي يعلم الغيب – “In al-Khaniyya and al-Khulasa: If one were to marry by making Allah and His Messenger witness, the marriage will not take place, and he becomes a disbeliever for believing that the Prophet knows the unseen.”] Shah Isma’il’s statement is therefore consistent with these texts.

Moreover, he clarifies that to say this (“Allah and His Messenger knows”) with respect to Shari’ah rulings, there is no harm, because Allah has informed the Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) of the matters of religion.

In context – as an explanation of the hadith and with the concluding comment – therefore, this passage from Taqwiyat al-Iman is not as outrageous as Munawwar tried to make out in his article.

Reiterating and summarising the Hanafi view, Ibn ‘Abidin al-Shami wrote in Radd al-Muhtar (vol. 6 p. 385): “To claim knowledge of the ghayb [for anyone] clashes with the clear text of the Qur’an, so one becomes a disbeliever by this [claim]; unless he attributes it explicitly or by indication to a means from Allah (Most High) like revelation [to prophets] or inspiration, and likewise if he attributes it to a sign determined by Allah (Most High) as the normal course of nature.”

دعوى علم الغيب معارضة لنص القرآن فيكفر بها إلا إذا أسند ذلك صريحا أو دلالة إلى سبب من الله تعالى كوحي أو إلهام وكذا لو أسنده إلى أمارة عادية بجعل الله تعالى

New Blog on Ilm al-Ghayb

July 25, 2012

A very nice blog about the topic of ilm al-ghayb. Very detailed stuff out there refuting the sectarian stance of the Raza Khanis:

Knowledge of the Five – The keys of the unseen

April 19, 2012

Compiled by Saad Khan

In the following essay, we will categorically establish from explicit verses of the Qur’an, their respective commentaries, authentic hadiths, and statements of the Companions (Sahabah) and erudite scholars, that the leader of all the Messengers, seal of the Prophets, Sayyiduna Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) was neither given the knowledge of “what was and what shall be” (ma kana wama yakun)[1], nor knowledge of the Five Things. We will further establish that he was not ‘alim al-ghayb (Knower of the Unseen).

Allah has given complete knowledge of Shari‘ah rulings (ahkam) to His prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as well as some knowledge of the unseen existents (akwan ghaybiyyah).

This was explained by Shaykh al-Islam Mawlana Shabbir Ahmad ‘Uthmani (d.1369 AH) in the following words, “Remember that the matters of the unseen are either related to the laws of Shari’ah or to the cosmic issues (akwan). These cosmic issues are either zamani (temporal) or makani (place-related).The temporal issues are then divided into the past, present, and future. The knowledge of the laws of Shari’ah in all its entirety is awarded to the prophets. This knowledge has been explained and categorized by the intelligent ones of the Ummah. As for the knowledge dealing with principles of cosmic issues, Allah Most High has made Himself exclusive to this knowledge. Yes, in accordance to people’s capabilities, He has made certain people aware of only a few selected issues.” (Fawa’id al-Qur’an, p.522, from The Concept of Nabuwwah and Risalah, p.18)


Allah Most High says,

Verily, with Allah is knowledge of the Hour. He sends down rain, and knows that which is in the wombs. No soul knows what it will earn tomorrow, and no soul knows in what land it will die. Verily, Allah is Knower, Aware. (Luqman, 34)

This verse suggests that knowledge of these five things is restricted to Divine Knowledge. What is the reason for specifying these five? ‘Allamah Muhammad Sarfaraz Khan Safdar (d.1430 AH) mention two reasons for this:

First, these five matters were mentioned in reply to a question posed specifically in regards to them. Hafiz Ibn Kathir, ‘Allamah Husayn bin Mas’ud Baghawi al-Shafi’i, Shaykh al-Islam Badr al-Din al-‘Ayni, ‘Allamah Jalal al-Din Suyuti, Imam Sayyid Shihab al-Din Mahmud Alusi al-Hanafi, and Mulla Jiwan Jaunpuri al-Hanafi (may Allah have mercy on them) mention that the reason for its revelation was that Warith ibn ‘Amr, a Bedouin, came to the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and asked about the Hour and its timing. He further asked, “Our lands are dry, so when will it rain? I left my wife while she was pregnant, so what will she give birth to? I know what I earned today, so what will I earn tomorrow? I know in what land I was born, so in what land will I die?” The verse was revealed in reply to his questions, clarifying that these five things are known only by Allah. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 3:455; Ma’alim al-Tanzil, 3:156; ‘Umdat al-Qari, 11:519; Durr al-Manthur, 5:170; Ruh al-Ma’ani, 21:97; Al-Tafsirat al-Ahmadiyyah, p.396)

The reply was limited to these five things because the question was specifically about them; otherwise, there are innumerable things of which the complete knowledg is only with Allah Most High.

Imam Fakhr al-Din al-Razi (d.606AH) writes, “According to some commentators of the Qur’an, Allah Most High in this verse negated knowledge of the five matters for anyone besides Him. This is true, but it is not the objective [of the verse], because Allah knows [even] the single atom that was in the pile of sand at the time of the flood [of Nuh (peace be upon him)] and which was swept by the wind from the east to the west, time and time again. Allah knows where it is and no one besides Him knows it.” (Al-Tafsir al-Kabir, 6:503)

Adding to this in Tafsir al-Lubab fi ‘Ulum al-Kitab, 31:34, Imam Siraj al-Din ibn ‘Adil al-Hanbali al-Dimashqi (d.880 AH) writes, “Allah Most High in this verse negated knowledge of the five matters for anyone besides Him. This is true, but it is not the objective [of the verse] since Allah knows [even] the single atom that was in the pile of sand at the time of the flood [of Nuh (peace be upon him)] and was swept by the wind from the east to the west, time and time again. Allah knows where it is and none besides Him knows it. Hence, there is no reason to mention these things specifically. The truth in this regard is that we say: since Allah said, ‘Fear your Lord and fear a day when no father will help his son,’ (31:33) and He said that it will come to pass in His statement, ‘Verily, Allah‘s promise is true,’ (31:33) it is as if though a speaker asked, ‘Then when will this day come to pass?’ and in reply it was said, ‘This knowledge is [such] that it cannot be possessed by other than Allah, but it will [certainly] come to pass’.”

Second, Hafiz Ibn Hajr al-‘Asqalani and ‘Allamah Badr al-Din ‘Ayni (may Allah have mercy on them) both write that the reason for specifying these five things is that because worlds are of five types:

  1. ‘Alam al-Hayawan (the animal world) – ‘what is in the wombs’ is a reference to this.[2]
  2. ‘Alam al-Nabatat (the plant world) – ‘He sends down rain’ refers to this.
  3. Alam al-Sufla or ‘Alam al-Barzakh (the underworld or the intermediary world) – ‘what land it will die in’ refers to this.
  4. ‘Alam al-Zaman (the world of time) – ‘what it will earn tomorrow’ refers to this.
  5. ‘Alam al-Akhirah (otherworld) – ‘knowledge of the Hour’ is a reference to this. (Fath al-Bari, 13:309; ‘Umdat al-Qari, 11:519)

Mulla Jiwan al-Hanafi (d.1130 AH) writes, “If you were to ask: ‘What is the use of mentioning these five [unseen matters] when all other unseen matters are just like them?’  I say: ‘The use is that these five are major unseen matters because they are the keys to the unseen (ghayb). For example, if someone knows what will happen tomorrow, he will come to know of the death of A, birth of B, victory of C, defeat of D, advent of E and other things that will happen tomorrow (and nothing will remain hidden). Analogize [the remaining four] to this.” (AlTafsirat al-Ahmadiyyah, p.397)

‘Allamah Sarfaraz Safdar writes that it is possible that Allah grants some news of the unseen (akhbar al-ghayb, inba’ al-ghayb) to His closest servants.

Mulla ‘Ali ibn Sultan al-Qari (d.1014 AH) and ‘Allamah Shabbir Ahmad ‘Uthmani write, “If you say: the prophets and saints have related many things from these five, so why the limitation? We say: the limitation is with respect to their wholes (kulliyyat) and not their parts (juz’iyyat).” (Mirqat al-Mafatih sharh Mishkat al-Masabih, 1:66; Fath al-Mulhim, 1:172)

From this explicit statement of Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari and ‘Allamah ‘Uthmani, it is clear that Allah alone possesses encompassing knowledge of these five things. And whatever has been told to the Prophets and saints is only part of this encompassing knowledge.

Commenting on this verse, Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari also writes: “’Verily, Allah is [the] Knower’, i.e. of these things, of their parts and their wholes, in particular, and of other than these [five] in general. ‘Being] “Aware” [means He knows] of their internal aspects just as He knows their external aspects, or its meaning is: He gives information about some of these [five] from their parts (juz’iyyat) to some of His select servants; however, He has told [us] in several places of His Book that the knowledge of the Hour is from that which Allah has exclusive possession of.” (Mirqat al-Mafatih sharh Mishkat al-Masabih, 1:67)

This statement of Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari shows that when it comes to the knowledge of the Hour, it is an exception to the above rule. Since this knowledge does not consist of “parts”, its knowledge belongs exclusively to Allah, as clarified in many verses of the Qur’an.


In Hadith, these five things have been referred to as mafatih al-ghayb (the keys of the unseen), of which the Qur’an says, “With Him are the keys of the unseen, none but He knows them” (Qur’an, 6:59).

Narrated Sayyiduna ‘Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him), “One day the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) appeared before the people and a man came to him and said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, what is iman (faith)?’ He replied: ‘That you believe in Allah, His angels, His Books, His meeting, His Messengers and that you believe in the Resurrection.’ He said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, what is Islam (submission).’ He replied: ‘Islam is that you worship Allah and do not associate anything with Him, you establish the prescribed Salah, you pay the obligatory Zakah and you fast during Ramadan.’ He said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, what is ihsan (excellence)?’ He replied: ‘That you worship Allah as if you see Him, and if you see Him not that He sees you.’ He said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, when is the Hour?’ He replied: ‘The one who is asked about it knows no more than the inquirer. I will, however, narrate to you some of its portents: when the slave-girl will give birth to her master, this is one of its portents; when the naked, barefooted would become the chiefs of people, this is one of its portents; when the shepherds of black camels would compete in high-rise buildings, this is one of its portents. The knowledge of the Hour is among the five which none knows but Allah.’ Then he (Allah bless him and grant him peace) recited: ‘Verily, with Allah is knowledge of the Hour. He sends down rain, and knows that which is in the wombs. No soul knows what it will earn tomorrow, and no soul knows in what land it will die. Verily, Allah is Knower, Aware,’ (31:34). Abu Hurayrah (Allah be pleased with him) said: ‘Then the person turned back and the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: ‘Bring that man back to me.’ They went to bring him back, but they saw nothing. Upon this the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) remarked: ‘This was Jibril, he came to teach the people their religion’.” Abu ‘Abdullah said: “He [the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace)] considered all that as a part of faith.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, 1:12; Sahih al-Muslim, 1:29; Sunan al-Nisa’i, 2:229; Sunan al-Tirmidhi, 2:85; Sunan Ibn Majah, p.302; Sunan Abi Dawud, 2:289; Musnad Imam al-A’zam, 1:174)

‘Allamah Sarfaraz writes that this hadith has also been narrated by nine other Companions – Sayyiduna ‘Umar bin al-Khattab, Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar, Sayyiduna Anas, Sayyiduna Jarir bin ‘Abdullah, Sayyiduna Ibn ‘Abbas, Sayyiduna Abu ‘Amir Ash’ari, Sayyiduna Abu Musa al-Ash’ari, Sayyiduna ‘Abd al-Rahman bin Ghanam, and Sayyiduna Abu Dhar al-Ghifari (may Allah be pleased with them). After the companions, the narrators are so numerous that it is difficult to count them. There are three things that are to be kept in mind regarding this hadith:

  1. This hadith is absolute (qat’i) proof that the precise timing of the Hour was not given to the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace). Though numerous major and minor signs of the Hour were indeed mentioned by him, these are not under discussion here.[3]
  2. Everything that has been mentioned in this hadith is pure faith (din) because it is clear that the questioner was Sayyiduna Jibril and he came for the purpose of teaching people their religion.  Furthermore, the sub-narrator, Abu ‘Abdullah, exclaimed: “He [the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace)] considered all that as a part of faith.”
  3. This incident is from the last days of the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace), when all religious rulings had been revealed; Sayyiduna Jibril came to strengthen these things in the minds of the people. In the beginning, the identity of Jibril was unknown to Sayyiduna Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) and he came to know of this afterward as the narrations mention.

Now we will further reflect over these points in detail as explained by ‘Allamah Sarfaraz Khan Safdar.

First Point: When the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was asked about the time of the Hour, he replied that the one questioned has no more knowledge than the questioner. The scholars of hadith have mentioned two meanings for this:

First, both the questioner and the answerer are equal in not knowing.

Hafiz Ibn Hajr al-‘Asqalani (d.852 AH) writes, “However, it means being equal in not having knowledge of it [i.e. the Hour].” (Fath al-Bari, 1:114)

‘Allamah Badr al-Din al-‘Ayni (d.855 AH) states, “Since they are both equal in not having knowledge of it, whether questioning or questioned, they are all the same.” (‘Umdat al-Qari, 1:340)

‘Allamah Shihab al-Din Qastallani al-Shafi’i (d.923 AH) explains, “It entails negation of the knowledge of its time, since knowledge of its occurrence is certain and is common knowledge. Although it seemingly denotes equality in knowledge, it nonetheless means that both are equal in knowing that Allah has kept the knowledge of its time only for Himself. [This is evidenced by it] preceding by the statement that [the knowledge of] the Hour is one of the five things which are not known to anyone except Allah.” (Irshad al-Sari, 1:115)

Shaykh al-Islam Zakariyya ibn Muhammad al-Ansari (d.928 AH) writes, “It implies equating the negation of its [i.e. the Hour] knowledge [from both the questioner and the questioned].” (Tuhfat al-Bari, 1:280)

And Hafiz Ibn Kathir (d.774 AH) writes, “I.e. the questioner and the questioned are equal in being unable to comprehend it [the time of the Hour].” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 3:373)

Imam Nawawi (d.676 AH) writes while explaining this narration, “It also implies that it is proper for a scholar, mufti, etc., if he is asked anything which he does not know, to say: “I do not know,” and it will not cause him any disgrace.” (Sharh Sahih al-Muslim, 1:28)

And Mulla ‘Ali Qari states, “This is ma of negation, i.e. the one who was asked about it is not more aware than the questioner. He denied that he is able to be questioned about the matter of the Hour because it is one of the keys of ghayb not known to anyone save Allah.” (Mirqat sharh Mishkat, 1:127)

Shaykh Abu ‘l-Hasan Sindhi al-Hanafi (d.1139 AH) writes, “The statement of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace): ‘The one who is asked about it knows no more than the inquirer’ is an indication that both were equal in not knowing it [i.e. time of the Hour].” (Al-Ta’liq al-Sabih, 1:21)

Shaykh Shah ‘Abd al-Haq Dahlawi (d.1052 AH) writes, “It means ‘I am not more aware than you’ i.e. we are both equal in not knowing; rather, all who question and are questioned [about it] have the same position, since it is not known to anyone besides Allah. Allah Most High has not informed any of the angels or prophets about it.” (Ashi’ath al-Lam’at, 1:45)

Hafiz Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali (d.795 AH) writes, “The words of Jibril: ‘Tell me about the Hour’, to which the Prophet said: ‘The one asked about it knows no more than the one who asks’, meaning that the knowledge of created beings’ about the moment of the Hour is all equal. This indicates that Allah, exalted is He, has exclusive knowledge of it. (Jami’ Al-Ulum wa ‘l-Hikam, p.55)

Second Point: Whatever has been mentioned in this hadith, in which the knowledge of the Hour has been explicitly denied for anyone other than Allah, is pure religion (din) and faith (iman).

Imam Muhammad bin Isma’il al-Bukhari (d.256 AH) writes after mentioning this hadith, “[In regards to all that has been mentioned in this hadith,] he [the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace)] regarded all of them as parts of faith (iman).” (Sahih al-Bukhari, 1:12)

Imam Ibn Daqiq al-‘Id al-Shafi’i al-Maliki (d.702 AH) writes, “And, he [Jibril] was teaching you the fundamentals of your religion, or the major matters of your religion.” (Sharh Arba’in Nawawiyyah, p.17)

Hafiz Ibn Taymiyyah (d.729 AH) says, “He regarded all these things as part of religion.” (Al-‘Ubudiyyah fi Tafsir al-Qur’an, p.3)

Imam Abu al-‘Abbas Ansari al-Qurtubi (d.656 AH) writes, “This hadith deserves to be called ‘the mother of the Sunnah’ (umm al-Sunnah) as it contains all the sciences of the Sunnah.” (Fath al-Bari, 1:66; ‘Umdat al-Qari, 1:291)

Qadi ‘Iyad bin Musa al-Maliki (d.544 AH) states, “This hadith consists of all forms of external and internal worship, like the articles of faith (iman) in regards to the beginning, the present, and the future; bodily actions; innermost sincerity; and protection against the obstacles of actions. Moreover, all the Islamic sciences refer to it and are derived from it. (Fath al-Bari, 1:66; ‘Umdat al-Qari, 1:291)

And ‘Allamah Badr al-Din al-‘Ayni writes, “I say: believing that the Resurrection will come and that no one knows its time except Allah Most High is from the religion (din).” (‘Umdat al-Qari, 1:327)

‘Allamah Shihab al-Din Qastallani writes, “It includes the belief that the Resurrection will occur and no one other than Allah knows its time, since these two things [beliefs] are part of religion (din).” (Irshad al-Sari, 1:114)

Shaykh al-Islam Zakariyya al-Ansari has written the same as ‘Allamah Qastallani. (See Tuhfat al-Bari, 1:227)

‘Allamah Sarfaraz Khan Safdar mentions that it becomes evident from the above statements that to believe the knowledge of the Hour is with Allah alone is from the fundamentals of religion. If anyone holds a self-made belief that is contrary to this, he is in reality denying an important belief of the religion.

Third Point: There is a consensus amongst the scholars that this incident was from the last days of Holy Prophet – most probably after Hujjat al-Wida’ (farewell Hajj of the Holy Prophet) – and he didn’t recognize Sayyiduna Jibril at first.

Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar narrates, “A man [who in reality was Sayyiduna Jibril] came to the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) during the last period of his life…” (Fath al-Bari, 1:62; ‘Umdat al-Qari, 1:292; ‘Awn al-Bari, 1:236 – authentic according to the conditions of Muslim)

It is clear from this authentic hadith that this particular visit of Sayyiduna Jibril was during the last period of the life of the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace).

Imam Shah Waliullah Muhaddith al-Dahlawi (may Allah have mercy on him) writes in his unparalleled book Hujjat Allah al-Balighah, “When the task of guiding [of the Holy Messenger] was over and his death time approached, Allah sent down Jibril in the form of a man whom people could see, so he asked the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) about faith (iman), Islam, ihsan (perfection), and the Resurrection. The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) replied to his questions and Jibril verified them, so that it may serve as a summary for his religion.” (Hujjat Allah al-Balighah, 2:210)

Furthermore, Hafiz Ibn Hajr al-‘Asqalani writes, “He [Jibril] came after all the rulings had been revealed in order to establish the matters of religion preached at different occasions in a single meeting so that they be preserved.” (Fath al-Bari, 1:63)

Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari writes, “Some in our time who claim [to have] knowledge while remaining satisfied with what they have not been given proclaim clear falsehoods that Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) knows when the Hour will be. It was said to [such an individual]: in the hadith of Jibril, it is said, ‘The one who is asked about it knows no more than the inquirer’, so he misinterpreted the hadith and said its meaning is ‘You and I both know it [the Hour]’. This is from the greatest of ignorance and ugliest of distortions. The Prophet is more knowledgeable of Allah than to say to someone whom he thought to be a Bedouin, ‘You and I both know the Hour,’ but this ignorant individual will say [the Prophet] knew that he was Jibril’. Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was truthful in his statement, ‘By the One in Whose hand my soul lies, [Jibril] did not come to me in a form I did not recognize, except this form’; and in another wording, ‘it was never unclear to me except this one time’; and in another wording, he said, ‘bring back the Bedouin,’ so the Companions went searching [for him] and did not find anything”. The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) only came to know that he was Jibril after a period of time, as ‘Umar said, ‘so I stayed for a while, then the Prophet said, ‘O ‘Umar, do you know who the questioner was?’’. The distorter says: he knew when being questioned that it was Jibril but did not inform the Companions of that but until after some time. Furthermore, his statement in the hadith, ‘The one who is asked about it knows no more than the inquirer’ is inclusive of all who question and are questioned [about it], so all who question and are questioned about the Hour are in the same situation [of not knowing about it].” (Mawdu’at al-Kabir, p.119)

Consensus (ijma’) of the Prophets

Sayyidnua ‘Abdullah bin Mas’ud (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates from the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), “I met – on the night I was taken for Isra’ – with Sayyiduna Ibrahim, Sayyiduna Musa and Sayyiduna ‘Isa (may the peace of Allah be upon them). They were discussing the issue of when the Resurrection will take place. They then asked Sayyiduna Ibrahim about it and he said, ‘I don’t have any knowledge about it’. And then they asked Sayyiduna Musa and he said the same and then it was asked of Sayyiduna ‘Isa and he said the same. He [Sayyiduna ‘Isa] added that no one knows its knowledge except Allah.” (Musnad Ahmad, 1:375, Ibn Majah, p.309 with an authentic chain; Mustadrak, 4:488 – Al-Hakim and Al-Dhahabi declared it authentic; Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 2:272; Durr al-Manthur, 3:152)

It is a well-accepted principle of hadith that if someone said something, or his saying or act came to the knowledge of the Holy Prophet, and the Holy Prophet either confirmed it or remained silent without giving any indication of disapproval, it is as if he gave consent for it. This is then considered taqrir al-rasul or a taqriri hadith of the Prophet. (See Authority of Sunnah –Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani; Nukhbat al-Fikar – Hafiz Ibn Hajr ‘Asqalani)

From the above mentioned authentic narration, it is clear that there is a consensus of the Prophets that the exact time of the Hour is with Allah alone, and this should also be the belief of every Muslim.

The Companions

Sayyidah ‘Ai’shah[4] (may Allah be pleased with her) narrates that once the Holy Prophet passed by a group of people reciting some poetry. One of them recited, ‘amongst us is a prophet who knows what will happen tomorrow. At this the Holy Prophet said, “No one knows what will happen tomorrow except Allah.” (Mustadrak Hakim, 2:185)

Imam Shams al-Din al-Dhahabi (d.748 AH) has classified this narration as authentic according to the conditions of Muslim. This narration has also been mentioned by Hafiz Ibn Hajr from Mu’jam al-Awsat with a sound (hasan) chain. (Fath al-Bari, 9:167)

Sayyiduna Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) mentioned, “When people asked the Holy Messenger about the Hour, they asked because the Holy Messenger was very kind to them. Then revelation came from Allah that knowledge of the Hour is with Allah alone and He has kept its knowledge to Himself; its knowledge was not given to any angel or prophet.” (Tafsir Ibn Jarir, 6:88, Durr al-Manthur, 3:151, Tafsir Khazin, 2:565)

Sayyiduna ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “From your Prophet, only these five things from the matters of the unseen, mentioned at the end of Surah Luqman, were kept hidden.” (Durr al-Manthur, 5:170)

Sayyiduna Ibn Mas’ud (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “Your Prophet was given the knowledge of everything (kull shay’in) except the five things mentioned at the end of Surah Luqman.” (Musnad Ahmad, 4:438; Fath al-Bari, 8:395; Durr al-Manthur, 5:170; Musnad Tayalsi, p.50; Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 3:454 – he said its chain is sound.)

‘Allamah Sarfaraz states that here the word ‘kull’ is ‘urfi (according to the custom) and not haqiqi (actual). ‘Allamah Murtada al-Zabidi (d.1205 AH) said, “The word ‘kull’ has been used with the meaning of some… our shaykh said, ‘The Imams of lughah have understood the statement of Allah, ‘so eat from every (kull) fruit’, and ‘I was given the knowledge of everything (kull)’ as some’.” (Taj al-‘Urus, 8:100)

Sayyiduna Jabbir bin ‘Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with him) reports, “I heard from the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) one month before his death, ‘You ask me about the time of the Hour while its knowledge is only with Allah’.” (Sahih al-Muslim, 2:310; Musnad Ahmad, 3:326; Durr al-Manthur, 3:150; Mishkat, 2:480; Mustadrak, 4:499 – he said its chain is authentic)

‘Allamah Sarfaraz Safdar writes that this authentic and explicit hadith is a proof that the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) did not have knowledge of the Hour only a month prior to his death, and that there is no proof which shows that he was given the exact time of the Hour after this. Now, the statements of half-baked Sufis uttered in a state of spiritual intoxication (sukr), do not constitute any proof in Shari’ah, nor is there any scope for analogy (qiyas) in this matter

Scholars and Sufis

It has been mentioned by Imam Abu ‘l-Barakat al-Nasafi, Mulla Jiwan al-Hanafi, and ‘Allamah Qadi Thana’ullah Panipati (may Allah have mercy on them) that the Abbasid Caliph Mansur saw the angel of death in a dream and asked him about his life span. The angel of death pointed with his five fingers. The interpreters gave different interpretations for this dream. Some said five years, some said five months, while others said five days. Imam Abu Hanifah (d.150 AH) mentioned that this is actually a reference towards the verse in Surah Luqman [mentioning 5 things]. It means that death is from those five things whose knowledge is with Allah alone. (Tafsir Madarik, 3:219; Al-Tafsirat al-Ahmadiyyah, p.396; Tafsir Mazhari, 7:280)

Imam Muhammad bin Idris al-Shafi’i (d.204 AH) writes, “And Allah said to His Prophet: ‘They ask you [O Prophet], about the Hour as to when it will take place. In which capacity are you to tell this? With your Lord is the final word about it’. (79:42-44) Sufyan informed us from Al-Zuhri, who narrated from ‘Urwah, who said that the Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) kept on enquiring until it was revealed: ‘They ask you [O Prophet], about the Hour as to when it will take place. In which capacity are you to tell this? With your Lord is the final word about it. You are only a Warner for anyone who fears it’. (79:42-45) … Allah said: ‘Say, No one in the heavens and the earth has the knowledge of the Unseen except Allah,’ (27:65).” (Risalah fi ‘Usul al-Fiqh, p.67)

Shaykh Makki bin Abi Talib al-Maliki (d.437 AH) writes, “’Verily, with Allah is knowledge of the Hour’ i.e. He knows when it will come to pass, so you should fear that it may visit you suddenly. ‘He knows that which is in the wombs’ i.e. no one knows it except Him.” (Tafsir Al-Hidayah ila Balugh al-Nihayah, under 31:34)

And Shaykh Abu ‘l-Qasim ‘Abd al-Karim al-Qushayri (d.465 AH) writes, “He alone possesses the knowledge of the Resurrection and He knows what is inside the wombs, whether males or females, wretched or blessed, good or bad; and He knows when the rain will pour down, how many drops will descend, and in which land it will descend.” (Tafsir Lata’if al-Isharat, under 31:34)

Sayyid al-Ta’ifah Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir Jaylani (d.561 AH) writes, “The fact is, in every instance where the question posed in the Qur’an is in the past tense –‘And what has made you know (wa ma adraka)?’ – Allah informed the Holy Prophet of it [the matter]. On the other hand, whenever the question posed therein is in the future tense – ‘And what can let you know’ (wa ma yudrika)?’ – he didn’t know it, nor was he informed of it. For example, consider His words, Almighty and Glorious is He, as Allah said: ‘And what can let you know? It may be that the Hour is near.’ (33:63) Therefore Allah didn’t inform him of its time.” (Ghuniyyat al-Talibin, p.550)

Shaykh al-Akbar Muhyi al-Din ibn ‘Arabi (d.638 AH) writes, “Indeed Allah with Him lies knowledge of the great Hour as all will perish at that time therein, so what of their knowledge? And He sends down rain according to the preparedness [of creation] before [it] perishes. And He knows what are in the wombs that are prepared [for conception] of perfections, whether they are perfect or not, or what are in the wombs carrying [human] souls of developing children, whether they are perfectly mature or not. And no soul knows what it will earn, of knowledge and positions, in the future, due to their being concealed from what is in their preparedness. And no soul knows in what land of all residential lands it will die and its preparedness will perish due to the accomplishment of the perfections that are contained therein; because the knowledge of preparedness and its limits is from that which Allah (Exalted is He) selected exclusively for His Essence amongst the unseen [features] of the unseen. And Allah (Exalted is He) knows best.” (Tafsir al-Qur’an, under 31:34)

Shaykh Sa’di Shirazi (d.1292 C.E) writes, “Ghayb is unknown to anyone except Allah. Do not believe one who claims to know it. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) did not say anything until it was told to him by Sayyiduna Jibril. And Jibril as well did not say anything until it was said by Allah. (Kulliyat Sa’di, from Bawariq al-Ghayb – Mawlana Muhammad Manzur Nu’mani)

It would be too lengthy to document the quotes of all the scholars which categorically demonstrate that the complete knowledge of the five, including the exact time of the Hour, is restricted to Allah, and that it has not been granted to anyone from creation. Instead, we will only name the scholars with references. The scholars who have already been listed above will not be mentioned in the list below.

  1. Sayyiduna Rabi bin Kharash (d.100 AH) – Musnad Ahmad; Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 3:455; Dur al-Manthur, 5:170.
  2. Imam Mujahid ibn Jabar al-Makhzum (d.102 AH) – Tafisr Ibn Kathir, 3:455.
  3. Sayyiduna ‘Ikrimah Mawla ibn ‘Abbas (d.104 AH) – Tafisr Ibn Kathir, 3:520.
  4.  Imam Abu ‘l-Qasim al-Dahhak (d.106 AH) – Tafisr Ibn Kathir, 3:530.
  5. Imam Qatadah al-Basri (d.117 AH) – Tafsir Ibn Jarir, 21:88; Al-Siraj al-Munir, 3:200; Dur al-Manthur, 4:294; Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 3:144.
  6.  Sayyiduna Zayd bin ‘Ali (d.120 AH) – Tafsir Gharib al-Qur’an, under 27:65, 79:42.
  7. Shaykh Suddi Kabir (d.127 AH) – Dur al-Manthur, 4:294; Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 3:144.
  8. Imam Sufyan bin ‘Uyaynah (d.198 AH) – Sahih al-Bukhari, 1:270.
  9. Shaykh Sahl bin ‘Abdullah al-Tustari (d.283 AH) – Tafsir al-Tustari, under 31:34.
  10. Imam Ibn Jarir al-Tabari (d.310H) – Tafsir Jami’ al-Bayan, 9:143.
  11. Imam Abu Ja’far al-Tahawi (d.331H) – Sharh MA’ani al-Athar, 2:239.
  12. Shaykh Abu ‘l-Qasim al-Tabrani (d.360 AH) – Al-Tafsir al-Kabir of Al-Tabrani, under 31:34.
  13. ‘Allamah Abu Layth Muhammad bin Ibrahim al-Samarqandi al-Hanafi (d.375 AH) – Tafsir Bahr al-‘Ulum, under 31:34, 79:46.
  14. Shaykh ‘Ali ibn Ahmad al-Wahidi (d.468 AH) Asbab al-Nuzul, under 31:34.
  15. Shaykh Abu Ishaq al-Tha’labi Nayshapuri (d.427 AH) – Tafsir Al-Kashf wal-Bayan, under 31:34.
  16. Shaykh Abu ‘l-Hassan al-Mawardi al-Basri (d.450 AH) – Tafsir Al-Nakt wal-‘Ayun, under 31:34.
  17. ‘Allamah Ibn ‘Attiyah al-Andulusi (d.546 AH) – Tafsir Al-Muharrar al-Wajiz fi Tafsir al-Kitab al-`Aziz, under 31:34, 33:63.
  18. ‘Allamah ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn al-Jawzi (d.597 AH) – Zad al-Masir fi ‘Ilm al-Tafsir, under 31:34.
  19. Shaykh Ibn ‘Izz ‘Abd al-Salam (d.660 AH) – Tafsir al-Qur’an, under 31:34, 79:43.
  20. Imam Abu ‘Abdullah al-Qurtubi al-Maliki (d.671 AH) – Tafsir Qurtubi, 13:225.
  21. Qadi Nasir al-Din Baydawi (d.686 AH) – Anwar al-Tanzil, 1:305, 2:170.
  22. Shaykh Ibn Abi Jumrah al-Andulusi (d.699 AH) – Bahjat al-Nufus, 4:373.
  23. Imam Abu ‘l-Barakat al-Nasafi (d.710 AH) – Tafsir Madarik, 3:71, 3:240.
  24. Shaykh Nizam al-Din Qumi Nayshapuri (d.728 AH) – Tafsir Gharaib al-Qur’an wa-Raghaib al-Furqan, under 31:34.
  25. Imam ‘Ali bin Muhammad Khazin al-Shafi’i (d.741 AH) – Tafsir Khazin, 5:228.
  26. Shaykh Ibn Juzzay al-Gharnati al-Maliki (d.741 AH) – Tafsir Tashil li ‘Ulum al-Tanzil, under 31:34.
  27. Imam Abu al-Hayyan Andulusi al-Maliki (d.754 AH) – Al-Bahr al-Muhit, 4:145.
  28. ‘Allamah Muhammad bin Yaqub Fayruzabadi al-Shafi’i (d. 817 AH) – Tanwir al-Miqbas, 2:681.
  29. ‘Allamah Jalal al-Din Mahalli (d.864 AH) – Jalalayn, p.488.
  30. ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Tha’libi al-Jaza’iry (d.875 AH) – Tafsir Jawahir al-Ahsan, under 31:34.
  31. Shaykh Burhan al-Din Ibrahim bin ‘Umar al-Biqa’i (d.885 AH) – Nazm al-Durar fi Tanasib al-Ayat wal-Suwar, under 31:34.
  32. Shaykh Mu’in bin Safi (d.889 AH) – Jami’ al-Bayan bar Jalalayn, p.353.
  33. ‘Allamah Qadi Abu Sa’ud (d.951 AH) – Tafsir Abu Sa’ud, 7:352.
  34. Shaykh Khatib Shirbini (d.977 AH) – Al-Siraj al-Munir, 1:544, 3:272, 4:408.
  35. Shaykh Shihab al-Din Khaffaji al-Maliki (d.1069 AH) – Nasim al-Riyadh, 4:265.
  36. Shaykh ‘Ali bin Ahmad ‘Azizi al-Shafi’i (d.1070 AH) – Al-Siraj al-Munir, 2:43.
  37. Shaykh Isma’il Haqqi Bursawi (d.1127 AH) – Tafsir Ruh al-Bayan, 10:209.
  38. Shah Waliullah Dahlawi (d.1174 AH) – Sharh Muwatta, p.314.
  39. Shaykh Ibn ‘Ajibah (d.1224 AH) – Tafsir Bahr al-Mudid, 31:34.
  40. ‘Allamah Qadi Thana’ullah Panipati (d.1225 AH) – Tafsir Mazhari, 7:460.
  41.  Imam Shah ‘Abd al-Qadir Dahlawi (d.1230 AH) – Mawdih al-Qur’an, p.162.
  42. Imam Shah ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Dahlawi (d.1239 AH) – Tafsir ‘Azizi, p.172-173.
  43. Qadi al-Shawkani (d.1250 AH) – Fath al-Qadir, under 31:34.
  44. Shaykh Nawab Qutb al-Din Khan Dahlawi (d.1279 AH) – Mazahir al-Haq, 1:24.
  45. ‘Allamah ‘Abd al-Haq Haqqani Dahlawi (d.1336 AH) – ‘Aqaid al-Islam, p. 155.
  46. Shaykh Sayyid Ahmad al-Barzanji al-Shafi’i (d.1337 AH) – Ghayat al-Mamul fi ‘Ilm al-Ghayb al-Rasul, p.3. This booklet of Shaykh al-Barzanji was signed and fully endorsed by numerous of his contemporaries like Shaykh Falih bin Muhammad Tahiri (d.1328 AH), Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir Tawfiq al-Shalabi al-Tarablusi (d.1369 AH), Shaykh Taj al-Din Ilyas al-Hanafi, Shaykh Muhammad Sa’id al-Dala’il, Shaykh Sayyid ‘Abbas Ridwan, Shaykh ‘Umar al-Hamdan Maliki, Shaykh Khalil bin Ibraim al-Kharbuti, Shaykh Musa ‘Ali al-Shami al-Azhari, Shaykh Sayyid Ahmad al-Jaza’iry, Shaykh Muhammad bin Ahmad ‘Umari, Shaykh Muhammad ‘Aziz Wazir Tonsi, Shaykh Ahmad bin Muhammad Khayr ‘Abbasi, Sayyid ‘Abdullah Assad, etc.
  47. Pir Mehr ‘Ali Shah Golri (d.1352 AH) – Shams al-Hidayah, p.66; Iyla Kalimatillah, p.115.
  48. Shaykh Muhammad ‘Ali Sabuni – Safwat al-Tafasir, 1:486.
  49. Shaykh Ghulam Rasul Sa’idi al-Barelwi – Tibyan al-Qur’an, 9:290.


There are some rules to keep in mind when dealing with statements of some Sufis that go against the well-established beliefs of Ahl al-Sunnah wa ‘l-Jama’ah. ‘Allamah Ibn Khaldun (d.808 AH) writes, “There are the suspect expressions which Sufis call ‘ecstatic utterances’ and which provoke the censure of orthodox Muslims. As to them, it should be known that the attitude that would be fair to Sufis is that they are people who are removed from sense perception. Inspiration grips them. Eventually, they say things about their inspiration what they do not intend to say…. [a] Sufis who are known for their excellence and exemplary character are considered to act in good faith in this and similar aspects… [b] Sufis whose excellence is not known and famous deserve censure for utterance of this kind, since the [data] that might cause us to interpret their statements [so as to remove any suspicion attached to them] are not clear to us. [c] Sufis who are not removed from sense perception and are not in the grip of a state when they make such utterances of this kind, also deserve censure.” (Muqadimmah Ibn Khaldun, p.366)[5]

Those who go against the beliefs of the pious predecessors by heavily relying on half-baked Sufis and latter day scholars should take heed from the following advice of Ahmad Rada Khan al-Barelwi mentioned in his Malfuzat, “Comment: Qadi Baydawi or Khazin, etc. are not the imams of tafsir [then what authority does the like of Shaykh Sawi hold?]; being an imam of a science is something while being an author of a book on a subject is something else. The imams of tafsir are the Companions and the Followers and even among the Followers only the seniors amongst them.”

Mujaddid Alf al-Thani Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi (d.1024 AH) writes, “We require the sayings of Sayyiduna Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace), not the sayings of Muhyi al-Din ibn ‘Arabi, Sadr al-Din Qunawi and ‘Abd al-Razzaq al-Kishi. I need only Nas (the Qur’an and Hadith) not Fas (Fusus al-Hikam). The Futuhat (revelations) of Madinah are sufficient for us and we do not need Futuhat al-Makkiyyah.” (Maktubaat, 2:100)

The mujaddid of the first century, Sayyiduna ‘Umar bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz (may Allah have mercy on him) mentioned the following in refutation of those who denied the existence of predestination (taqdir), “They (Sahabah, Tab’in and Salaf al-Salihin), have also recited these verses which you recite, but they have understood their meaning while you have not. Despite their recitation of all these verses, they accepted the concept of predestination.” (Sunan Abi Dawud, 2:278)

Imam Shah Waliullah Dahlawi writes, “I say that the group which will attain salvation are those who hold fast in both belief and practice to what is apparent from the Qur’an and Sunnah, and this was the practice of the Companions and the Followers, though they differed amongst themselves in that which a clear text [from the Qur’an and Hadiths] is not widely known nor did an agreement from the Companions emerge on it through deriving proof from some of these [clear texts] or [through] explaining an ambiguous text thereof. While the group which will not attain salvation is one which adopts beliefs different to the beliefs of the Predecessors (Salaf) or a practice not [from] their practices. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: ‘This Ummah will not unite on error’. Moreover, he stated: ‘Allah will raise for this community at the end of every hundred years one who will renovate its religion for it’. It was elaborated in another hadith: ‘From every generation, there will be some rightful ones who will carry this knowledge [of Shari’ah]. They will remove from it the distortion of the extremists and the arrogation of the falsifiers and the misinterpretation of the ignorant ones.” (Hujjat Allah al-Balighah, 1:335)

‘Allamah Jalal al-Din Suyuti states, “The various sects amongst the Ahl al-Bid`ah, who have based their spurious beliefs on their weak and fanciful understanding of the Qur`an, do not find a corresponding view amongst those [views] of the Companions, the Followers and the Predecessors… The summary of this is that whoever chooses the opposite view of that which is presented by the Companions and the Followers is in grave error; in fact, he is an innovator, because the Companions and the Followers understood the tafsir of the Qur’an and its meanings best. They have understood it as it ought to be, just as it was revealed to the Messenger of Allah. (Al-Itqan, 2:178, from The Path of Sunnah)

Warning to those who believe otherwise

Our mother, Sayyidah ‘Ai’shah Siddiqah, said, “Whoever says that Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) knows what will happen tomorrow, he has surely put a great slander against Allah because of Allah’s statement, ‘No one knows the unseen (ghayb) in the heavens and earth except Allah’.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, 2:720; Sahih al-Muslim, 1:98; Sahih Abu ‘Awanah, 1:154)

And at another place, Sayyidah ‘Ai’shah said, “If any anyone tells you that the Holy Prophet knew what will happen tomorrow, then he is surely a liar. Then she recited this verse of the Qur’an, ‘Verily the knowledge of the Hour is with Allah [alone]’…”  (Sahih Abu ‘Awanah, 1:155)

In yet in another of her narrations, it comes, “…And whoever tells you [i.e. Masruq] that he knows the unseen (ghayb) has indeed lied; He [Allah Most High] says, ‘No one knows the unseen (ghayb) except for Him’.” (27:65) (Sahih al-Bukhari, 2:1098)

She further narrated, “If anyone tells you that the Holy Prophet… had the knowledge of five things mentioned in, ‘Verily the knowledge of the Hour is with Allah’, has indeed gathered a great slander.” (Sunan al-Tirmidhi, 2:160; Mishkat, 2:510)

This is a direct conversation of Sayyidah ‘Ai’shah with Sayyiduna Masruq and Imam Sha’bi (may Allah have mercy on him) – both who were Followers (tabi’n) – after the passing away of Holy Messenger, so whoever said anything to the contrary has indeed lied.

Sayyiduna Ibn ‘Abbas said, “Mafatih al-ghayb are these five things which have been mentioned in Surah Luqman.” (Durr al-Manthur, 3:15)

And he gave a verdict stating, “These five [unseen matters] are not known to anyone; not to any close angel nor to the most prominent prophet. So, the one claims to know any of these [five], has disbelieved in the Qur’an as he has opposed it.” (Tafsir Khazin, 5:183; Tafsir Qurtubi, 24:82; Zad al-Masir fi ‘Ilm al-Tafsir li Ibn Jawzi, under 31:34; Al-Tafsir al-Kabir of Al-Tabrani, under 31:34)

The meaning is that if it is claimed that he himself, or any prophet or saint, has been granted the complete knowledge of any one matter from these five things, he is a denier of the Qur’an. ‘Allamah Sarfaraz clarifies that the matter of some portion of knowledge is a different issue and the statement of Sayyiduna Ibn ‘Abbas is not in regards to that.

Imam Ibn Battal al-Maliki (d.444 AH) is reported to have said, “Whoever claims to know  what Allah and His Messenger indicated that Allah knows it exclusively, it is as if he has disbelieved in Allah and His Messenger. And this is disbelief (kufr) on the part of one who says so.” (‘Umdat al-Qari, 7:61)

‘Allamah Badr al-Din al-‘Ayni and Hafiz ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn al-Jawzi have quoted Imam al-Zajjaj (d.311 AH) as follows, “One who claims to know any of these five matters, has disbelieved in the Glorious Qur’an.” (‘Umdat al-Qari, 7:6; Zad al-Masir fi ‘Ilm al-Tafsir, 31:34)

This is because it is proven from the explicit text of the Qur’an that the knowledge of the five is specific to Allah, and if anyone claims for himself or for anyone from creation knowledge of these five matters, he will be guilty of associating others in an exclusive attribute of Allah, and thus rejecting the Qur’an.

Imam Sayyid Anwar Shah al-Kashmiri (d.1352 AH) gave the following verdict, “It is utterly surprising that those who bear the signs of the people of knowledge and don their dress how they hesitate to declare such a person a kafir and how they are not sure of his kufr. Who from the people of knowledge can say that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) did not know some things by being informed by Allah? Moreover, rather he (Allah bless him and give him peace) is most knowledgeable of all prophets, rather prophethood is perfection in knowledge as articulated in [the books] of Kalam. The great calamity is only that of the one who spreads evils and propagates falsehood on top of pulpits that he was given knowledge of all things (kull al-ashya’) in their entirety. For indeed this is pure polytheism. Their [i.e. the people of knowledge] pronouncements are agreed on declaring such a thing kufr. How can this speaker seek support [for this opinion] when he is in complete opposition to the Sunnah? Allah is guardian of all affairs.” (Bulghat al-Hayran, p.3; Jawahir al-Tawhid, p.293-294)

Lastly, Qadi Abu Bakr ibn al-‘Arabi al-Maliki (d.543 AH) writes, “There is no sign and no indication to the five things which none but Allah knows, except what the chosen truthful one foretold regarding the signs of the Hour due to being informed of the unseen, while there is no sign of the remaining four matters. So, if anyone says that it will rain tomorrow, he will become a kafir, whether he gives this information through signs which he claims, or a mere opinion. And one who claims that he knows what is in the womb, he is a kafir, but its signs are of different kinds: one is kufr and one is experience. Experience is, [for instance, when] a physician says that if her right breast’s nipple is black it will be male, and if that of the left breast is [black], it will be female; if the woman finds her right waist heavier, it is male, and if she finds the left waist heavier, it is female. If he claims this as the norm, and not necessary in creation, we will neither regard him as kafir nor fasiq. As for one who claims to have the knowledge of [his] future earnings, he is kafir; or he foretells of the vague or detailed events of what will happen before they happen, he is undoubtedly kafir. As far as one who predicts the information of solar or lunar eclipse, our ‘ulama have said: he will be chastised and put in jail, but will not be declared kafir. As far as not declaring him kafir is concerned, a group says: it [i.e. the timing of the eclipse] is a matter perceived by calculation and measuring phases according to what Allah (Glorified is He) said in His (Glorious and Majestic is He) statement: ‘And the moon, We have measured for it phases’. [36:39] Hence, of their calculation of it [i.e. the timing of the eclipse], their relaying it and their belief in it, our ‘ulama have refrained from declaring them kafirs. As for their chastisement, it is because they insert doubt amongst the common people into [believing our] knowledge has a connection with another ghayb while they do not know the extent of the difference between this [i.e. acquiring knowledge of the timing of the eclipse] and other than it, so it will create confusion in their religious beliefs and will shake their foundations of certainty, so they will be chastised until they keep that secret when they know of it and they do not announce it [to other people].” (Ahkam al-Quran, 1:578)

‘Allamah Sarfaraz Khan Safdar concludes that there is no need for anyone to trouble himself by presenting the views of Shaykh Ahmad Sawi[6], Shaykh Ibrahim Bayjuri and Shaykh ‘Usmawi, etc. Their views hold no weight in front of the explicit verses of the Qur’an, mutawattir hadiths, and consensus of the Ummah.


Bawariq al-Ghayb – Mawlana Muhammad Manzur Nu’mani

Izalat al-Rayb ‘an ‘Aqidah ‘Ilm al-Ghayb  ‘Allamah Sarfaraz Khan Safdar

Jawahir al-Tawhid – Mawlana Ghulamullah Khan

[1] Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir Jaylani attributes this particular belief to the Shi’ah. He writes, “They [Shi’ahs] believe that their imam has such knowledge that he is aware of all things of the past and future (ma kana wama yakun), whether related to this world or to the religion. He knows everything, even the number of pebbles on the surface of the earth, the [number of] drops of rain and the number of leaves on trees…” (Ghuniyyat al-Talibin, p.186)

[2] The belief that the prophets and saints know what is in the wombs came from the Rawafid. ‘Allamah Jalal al-Din Suyuti (d.911 AH) writes, “The Imamiyyah (Twelvers) believe that the infallible (ma’sum) imam is aware of what is inside the womb of a pregnant woman and what is beyond the wall.” (Tarikh al-Khulafa’, p.312)

[3] Ahmad Yar Khan Gujarati, the renowned Mufti of the Barelwi sect, writes in Ja’ al-Haq p.104, “It is written in Ruh al-Bayan [of Shaykh Isma’il Haqqi Bursawi] in Surah al-A’raf under the verse: ‘They ask you as if you were aware of it’ (7:187) that ‘the world is 7000 year old, it is proved by authentic traditions’.’’ Ahmad Yar Khan comments on this, “This implies that the Prophet knew the [time of] Qiyamah.” First, it should be kept in mind that Shaykh Isma’il Haqqi himself believed that the knowledge of the Hour is exclusive to Allah. Second, the narration mentioning the age of the world is a fabrication. Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari writes, “… And among them [the rules] is the opposition of the narration to the explicit text of the Qur’an, such as the narration that the age of the world is 7000 years and we are in the seventh thousand, and this narration is a clear-cut lie.” (Mawdu’at al-Kabir, p.118) ‘Allamah Qastallani, in the commentary of Bukhari’s Kitab al-Riqaq, states, “The visionary scholars of hadith say that the matter of the world is unknown; it is not known how old it is and how long it shall live more. As far as the traditions presented as proof, these are weak and fabricated.” Mufti Husain Kadodia mentioned to me that Shaykh Abu ‘l-Mahasin al-Qawuqji al-Tarablusi al-Hanafi (d.1305 AH) said it is a fabrication (mawdu’) quoting ‘Allamah Ibn al-Athir (d.630 AH) and ‘Allamah Ibn al-Jawzi. It was Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani who predicted that Qiyamah will come in the seventh thousand. Pir Mehr ‘Ali Shah Golri refuted Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani in Shams al-Hidayah and showed that this specification of 7000 is against the Qur’an and authentic narrations of the Holy Prophet in which the knowledge of the Hour has been denied for anyone save Allah.

[4] There are extremists who believe that Holy Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) knew the innocence of Sayyidah ‘Ai’shah all along in the incident of Afak but was ordered not to reveal it to anyone.  Mulla ‘Ali ibn Sultan al-Qari writes about these people, “When happened the event of accusation with Sayyidah ‘Ai’shah (may Allah be pleased with her), the mother of the believers, and the liars accused her [of adultery], he [the Holy Prophet] did not know the reality of the matter until he received revelation from Allah Most High about her innocence. But according to these extremists, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) knew the truth without any doubt, so he advised people to leave her, and called Rayhanah and asked her – despite knowing the truth – and said to her: ‘Do you confess the sin?’ No doubt, the factor which motivated them to believe so is their belief that he will purge away their sins and make them enter into Paradise, and as much as they exceed the limits they become closer and nearer to him. They are the most disobedient of people and sternest in going against his way of life. They resemble the Christians because they committed the greatest exaggeration about Christ and opposed his religion with the staunchest opposition. In brief, they certify the openly forged hadiths and misinterpret the authentic ones. And Allah is the custodian of His religion, so He sends one who fulfils the right of admonition.” (Mawdu’at al-Kabir, p.120)

And Imam Sayyid Anwar Shah al-Kashmiri writes in his Urdu treatise on the issue of ‘ilm al-ghayb, “It should be clear that interpreting the incident of Afak (the slander of Sayyidah ‘Ai’siah) by saying that the Holy Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) was given the truth but was not permitted to reveal it, as mentioned by Naqqal Ji [reference to the author of Izalat al-Khifa’, and this is the belief of Barelwis in general] on page 21, is ilhad (heresy) and zandaqah (disbelief) or stupidity. Otherwise, no sane person can afford to distort it after seeing the context of the hadith of Afak. When the Holy Messenger was extremely disturbed and abandoned normal relations with Sayyidah ‘Ai’shah, and even contemplated whether to leave her or not, then this unfortunate fool dares such a distortion. May Allah protect us from such heresy in the religion.” (Sahm al-Ghayb fi Kabd Ahl al-Rayb, p.20-21)

[5] Taken from English translation by Franz Rosenthal, Princeton.

[6] ‘Allamah Sarfaraz Khan Safdar and Mawlana Muhammad Manzur Nu’mani mention that Shaykh Ahmad Sawi is an unreliable mufassir of the 13th century Hijri; someone who didn’t differentiate between reliable and unreliable (dry and fresh) views and collected everything in his tafsir (ratab wa yabis aqwal jama’ karnay wala). (See: Guldastah-i-Tawhid and Munazarah ‘Ilm al-Ghayb)

Icharwi distorting quotes about ilm al-ghayb

December 30, 2011

by Saad Khan

It is a well-known belief of the Barelwis that the Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) was given complete knowledge of the unseen (ilm al-ghayb) from the advent of creation till people enter Paradise and Hell and even after that.

Famous high-ranking Barelwi scholar and debater Molwi Muhammad ‘Umar Icharwi (d: 1971), known as ‘Munazir-i-Islam’ in Barlewi circles, has tried in vain to prove that Holy Messenger had complete ilm al-ghayb. In this effort he goes as far as misquoting Shihab al-Din Qastalani al-Shafi’i (d. 923).

Molwi Muhamamd ‘Umar quotes from Irshad al-Sari which is a Sharh of Sahih al-Bukhari by Qastalani,

يرى ان صحة النبوة تستلزم اطلاع النبى صلى اللّه عليه وسلم على جميع المغيبات

“For the Prophethood to be valid it is required the Holy Prophet knows all of the unseen.” (Miqyase Hanafiyyat, p. 385)

He misquotes ‘Allamah Qastalani. Below is the accurate quote from Irshad al-Sari of Qastallani:

فإن بعض من لم يرسخ في الإيمان كان يظن ذلك حتى كان يرى أن صحة النبوة تستلزم إطلاع النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم على جميع المغيبات

“Some of those who are not firm in faith (Iman) believe to such a degree that they consider that for the Prophethood to be valid it is required the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and hive him peace) knows all of the unseen.”

Notice how he left out the part in red as it demolishes their ‘aqidah.

This exact quote can also be found in Fath al-Bari, 13:364, of Hafiz ibn Hajr al- ‘Asqalani (may Allah have mercy on him).

فإن بعض من لم يرسخ في الإيمان كان يظن ذلك حتى كان يرى أن صحة النبوة تستلزم إطلاع النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم على جميع المغيبات

It is bold of him to leave out the first part of the sentence in which ‘Allamah Qastalani is attributing the ‘aqidah of complete knowledge of unseen to those who are not solid in faith and belief.

Scan from Umar Icharwi:

Original scan of Qastalani: