The Misguidance of the Barelwīs

March 14, 2015

by Mufti Zameelur Rahman
A time old Barelwī trick has been to mask its deviation from the Ahlus Sunnah wa l-Jamā‘ah by casting unfounded accusations against its adversaries. Those who show opposition to Barelwī beliefs are castigated as deviants, or worse, disbelievers and detractors of the beloved Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), with an attempt to create mistrust about their arguments against the ostensibly “Sunnī” beliefs it espouses.

Fortunately, the mask has slowly slipped away. The Barelwī allegations against its foremost rivals in India, the illustrious scholars and saints of Deoband, have been exposed as forgeries, slanders, deceptions and lies. The scholars of Deoband do not believe that prophethood may continue after the advent of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). They do not believe his (peace and blessing be upon him) blessed knowledge of unseen realities is equal to that of animals, madmen and children. They do not believe Satan has more expansive knowledge than the beloved Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). They do not believe Allāh has spoken lies or that it is permissible to believe this. We seek Allāh’s protection from all these heinous and blasphemous beliefs. The beliefs of the scholars of Deoband are expressed clearly in many books, most notably the brief collection of responses in al-Muhannad ‘ala l-Mufannad by ‘Allāmah Khalīl Ahmad Sahāranpūrī (1269 – 1346 H) in Arabic and the more lengthy ‘Aqā’id al-Islām by the muhaddith and mufassir, ‘Allāmah Idrīs al-Kandhlewī (1317 – 1394 H/1899 – 1974 CE), in Urdu.

The objective of this brief essay is to illustrate the misguided beliefs entrenched in the Barelwī ideology and movement. Their extremism in showing mock respect towards the personality of the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) has led to clear opposition to the teachings of the Qur’ān and Sunnah and the beliefs espoused by the Ahlus Sunnah wa l-Jamā‘ah in general and the illustrious Māturīdī Hanafī theologians in particular.

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:

لا يستهوينكم الشيطان، أنا محمد بن عبد الله، عبد الله ورسوله، والله! ما أحب أن ترفعوني فوق منزلتي التي أنزلني الله

“Let not the Satan run with your desires. I am Muhammad, son of ‘Abdullāh, the slave of Allāh and His Messenger. I do not like that you raise me above the position Allāh has placed me.” (Musnad Ahmad, Mu’assasat al-Risālah, 20:23; with an authentic chain)

‘Allāmah ‘Abdul Hayy al-Laknawī writes: “Attributing a virtue or a rank to his purified essence, the existence of which is not established in the holy prophetic essence by verses or reliable hadīths, is also from the greatest of major sins. The preachers should, therefore, pay attention, and the story-tellers and the exhorting and reproving sermonisers should beware, since they attribute many things to the holy person, the existence of which has not been established therein, and they think that in this is great reward due to establishing a virtue for the holy essence and elevating its stature, yet they are unaware that the prophetic virtues established in the authentic hadīths dispose of the need for these flimsy falsehoods. By my life, his (Allah bless him and grant him peace) virtues are outside the limit of encompassment and enumeration, and his merits, by which he excels all creation, are very many without end, so what is the need to extol him using falsehoods? Rather, this is a cause for great sin and deviation from the Straight Path.” (al-Āthār al-Marfū‘ah, Dārul Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, p. 36)

There are three beliefs in particular which we will highlight in this article:

1. Firstly, Barelwīs believe the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was given knowledge of the precise timing of the Final Hour

Ahmad Ridā Khān al-Barelwī, the founder of the Barelwī movement, said:

فثبت حصول العلم به قبل قيامها له صلى الله تعالى عليه وسلم

“Thus, his (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) acquisition of knowledge of it [i.e. the exact timing of the Hour] before its commencement is established.” (Footnotes to al-Dawlat al-Makkiyyah)

The followers of Ahmad Ridā Khān also upheld this belief. For example, respected Barelwī scholar, Ahmad Yār Khān (1314 – 1391 H), writes: “The Lord Almighty also gave this knowledge to the Prophet upon him peace.” (Jā’ al-Haqq, Maktabah Ghawsiyyah, 1:290)

This belief conflicts with many evidences of the Sharī‘ah from the Qur’ān and Sunnah. From the Qur’ān, one may study the authoritative commentaries of the following verses: 20:15*, 7:187, 67:25-6, 10:48-9, 17:51, 21:108-9, 72:25, 6:2, 27:65, 41:47, 43:85, 79:42-5, 6:59 and 31:34. The meanings of these verses and the statements of the major commentators regarding them are categorically clear: no one besides Allāh knows the exact time when the Hour will commence, and this will remain so right until the moment before the Final Hour.

* Imām al-Tabarī narrated with an authentic chain to Qatādah ibn Di‘āmah (60 – 118 H) that he said regarding this verse: “And by my life! Verily, Allāh has kept it hidden from the angels brought near and the prophets sent.” (Tafsīr al-Tabarī, Hajr, 16:35) Ibn Abī Hātim narrates from Ismā‘īl ibn ‘Abd al-Rahmān al-Suddī (d. 127) under the same verse: “There is no one in the heavens and the earth except Allāh has kept the knowledge of the Hour hidden from him. In the reading of Ibn Mas‘ūd [the verse reads as follows]: ‘I almost kept it hidden from My self.’ He is saying [in this verse]: ‘I conceal it from the creatures such that had I been able to conceal it from My self, I would have!’” (p. 2419) This interpretation of the verse – that Allāh “almost concealed the Hour from Himself”, expressing His intent to keep it hidden from His creation – is the dominant explanation given by the early commentators, which led Imām al-Tabarī to discount all other possible interpretations of the verse.

Some people have a misunderstanding that this is an insignificant or peripheral issue related to ‘aqīdah. In fact, it is a fundamental issue, in which holding the incorrect view may even amount to kufr as recorded from at least one of the earlier imāms of ‘aqīdah. The Barelwī opinion was espoused by some unknown figures from the early period and some people of knowledge from the later period like al-Sāwī al-Mālikī. However, it is a rejected view on account of its clear opposition to texts of the Sharī‘ah and the explicit statements of the ‘ulamā’.

From amongst Hanafi Māturīdī imāms, Imām Abū Mansūr al-Māturīdī himself in several places of his commentary of the Qur’ān explains that the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) was not given knowledge of the Hour. He says, for example:

فجائز أن يقال: إنه يعلم بعض هذه الأشياء بأعلام…إلا الساعة فإنه لا يطلع عليها أحدا

“[He may reveal parts of the five things mentioned in 31:34] except for the Hour, because He does not disclose it to anyone.” (Ta’wīlāt Ahl al-Sunnah, Mu’assasat al-Risālah, 4:80)

Imām al-Tahāwī says in his famous text on ‘aqīdah:

“The basis of qadr is a secret of Allāh (Exalted is He) in His creation, which neither an angel brought close nor a prophet sent is made aware of.”

Qādi al-Qudāt Sirāj al-Dīn ‘Umar ibn Ishāq al-Ghaznawī (704 – 773 H), a great Hanafī jurist who spent most of his life in Egypt, said in the commentary of this statement: “The intellects of man come short of encompassing the reality of divine wisdoms, and the insights come short of comprehending the lordly secrets, so qadr is from the unseen, the knowledge of which Allāh has taken exclusive possession, and He made it a secret hidden from His creation, which does not become apparent to an angel brought near or a messenger sent.” (Sharh ‘Aqīdat al-Tahāwiyyah, p. 99)

Further, al-Tahāwī says: “For knowledge is two types: a knowledge available to creation and a knowledge unavailable to creation. Denial of available knowledge is disbelief and claiming unavailable knowledge is disbelief.” Ghaznawī comments: “Available knowledge in the universe and creation is knowledge established from obvious signs and manifest evidences like knowledge of the Creator…His purity from the attributes of imperfection…Thus, this knowledge is available to creation so its denial is disbelief. As for unavailable knowledge it is knowledge which Allāh has hidden from His creation like the knowledge of the unseen, the knowledge of which He has taken exclusive possession, like knowledge of [the reality of] qadā and qadr, and the [timing of] the commencement of the Hour, as He (Exalted is He) said: ‘Say: None in the heavens and the earth know the unseen besides Allāh.’ (27:65) And he (Exalted is He) said: ‘None reveals it at its time besides He.’ (7:187). Thus, claiming this knowledge and seeking it is also disbelief, because it is to claim equivalence with Allāh in that of which He has taken exclusive possession.” (p 100)

Hence, this eighth-century Māturīdī imām considers it an act of disbelief to claim that anyone was given knowledge of the precise timing of the Hour.

Muftī Abu l-Su‘ūd Muhammad ibn Muhammad (898 – 982 H), a great Ottoman Hanafī jurist, wrote in his famous commentary of the Qur’ān:

لإظهاره على بعض غيوبه المتعلقة برسالته، كما يعرب عنه بيان من ارتضى بالرسول، تعلقا تاما، إما لكونه من مبادئ رسالته بأن يكون معجزة دالة على صحتها وإما لكونه من أركانها وأحكامها كعامة التكاليف الشرعية التي أمر بها المكلفون وكيفيات أعمالهم وأجزيتها المترتبة عليها فى الآخرة وما تتوقف هي عليه من أحوال الآخرة التي من جملتها قيام الساعة والبعث وغير ذلك من الأمور الغيبية التي بيانها من وظائف الرسالة، وأما ما لا يتعلق بها على أحد الوجهين من الغيوب التي من جملتها وقت قيام الساعة فلا يظهر عليه أحدا أبدا على أن بيان وقته مخل بالحكمة التشريعية التي عليها يدور فلك الرسالة

“‘Except one He chooses from a rasūl’ (Qur’ān, 72:27), meaning: except a messenger He chooses, due to his disclosure to him of some unseen things connected to his risālah – as describing the one chosen as ‘rasūl’ clarifies – with a complete connection, either because of it being from the foundations of his risālah, in that it is a miracle proving its veracity, or because of it being from its pillars and laws, like the general obligations of Sharī‘ah with which accountable people have been ordered and the conditions of their actions and the rewards consequential upon them in the afterlife and what it depends on from the conditions of the afterlife, from amongst which is the commencement of the Hour and the resurrection and other than that from the unseen things, the explanation of which is from the duties of risālah. As for that [knowledge] which does not relate to it in either of the two ways from unseen things, from the totality of which is the timing of the commencement of the Hour, He will never disclose it to anyone, while an explanation of its timing infringes on the legislative wisdom around which the orbit of risālah revolves.” (Irshād al-‘Aql al-Salīm, Maktab al-Riyād, 5:409)

Ibn ‘Ābidīn al-Shāmī al-Hanafī al-Māturīdī quotes this passage approvingly. (Majmū‘at Rasā’il Ibn ‘Ābidīn, 2:3:313-4)

Mullā ‘Alī al-Qāri’ quotes the following statement of Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah approvingly:

وقد جاهر بالكذب بعض من يدعي في زماننا العلم…أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم كان يعلم متى تقوم الساعة

“Some who claim knowledge in our time has openly announced a lie…that the Messenger of Allāh (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) had knowledge of when the Hour will commence.” (al-Mawdū‘āt al-Kubrā, p. 431)

Imām Kamāl al-Dīn Ahmad ibn al-Hasan al-Bayādī (1044 – 1097 H), a great Hanafī Māturīdī scholar from Bosnia, said after quoting the hadīth of Jibrīl:

فإن الأنبياء لا يعلمون من الغيب إلا ما علمهم الله تعالى ووقت الساعة ليس منه

“For verily the prophets do not know from the unseen except what Allāh (Exalted is He) has taught them and the timing of the Hour is not from it.” (Ishārāt al-Marām, Dār al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, p. 50)

Hence, the Barelwīs who claim to be Sunnī Māturīdī Hanafīs must reassess their claim against the statements quoted above. If their claim is true, will they accept that the view of their imām, Ahmad Ridā Khān al-Barelwī, is incorrect? Or will they turn a blind eye to the documented and established position of the Māturīdī school in favour of this unacceptable view of Ahmad Ridā Khān?

2. Secondly, Barelwīs believe the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was given encompassing and detailed knowledge of all events in creation from the beginning of creation right until the Final Hour.

Ahmad Ridā Khān Barelwī says in al-Dawlat al-Makkiyyah:

وأما نحن معاشر أهل الحق فقد علمنا – ولله الحمد – أن هذا الذي ذكرنا من تفاصيل كل ما كان من أول يوم وما يكون إلى آخر الأيام ليس بجنب علوم نبينا صلى الله تعالى عليه وسلم إلا شيئا قليلا

“As for us, the assemblies of the adherents of truth, we know, with praise to Allāh, that that which we mentioned, of the details of all that was from the first day [of creation] and all that will be till the last day [before the Hour] is not but very little in relation to the knowledge of our Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace).” (al-Dawlat al-Makkiyyah)

This is also in conflict with clear evidences of Sharī‘ah. The Qur’ān lists five things which are kept exclusively with Allah (31:34). The meaning of exclusivity with respect to these five things is that knowledge of them in their totality rests only with Allah, although He may disclose some specific aspects of them to others. According to the Barelwī belief, the Prophet (peace be upon him) possessed total knowledge of all five things: of rain; of what is in wombs; of where and when people will die; in full detail from the beginning of creation right until the Final Hour.

Mullā ‘Alī al-Qārī said: “The meaning is: none but Allāh knows the universals of each of them, while some of His chosen ones may be acquainted with some particulars from them.” And he said: “If you say: The prophets and saints gave information of many things from that so why is there a restriction? I say: The restriction is by consideration of their universals not their particulars.”

Imām Abū Mansūr al-Māturīdī said:

ويعلم ما فى الأرحام: من انتقال النطفة إلى العلقة وانتقال العلقة إلى المضغة وتحول ما فى الأرحام من حال إلى حال أخرى وقدر زيادة ما فيه في كل وقت وفي كل ساعة ونحو ذلك لا يعلمه إلا الله، وأما العلم بأن فيه ولدا وأنه ذكر أو أنثى فجائز أن يعلم ذلك غيره أيضا

“He knows what is in the wombs, in terms of shifting from a small drop to a blood clot and shifting from a blood clot to a lump of flesh and the transformation of what is in the wombs from one state to another state and the amount to which what is in it increases at every moment and in every period. The like of that is known to none but Allāh. As for the knowledge that there is a child in it and that it is a boy or a girl, it is possible that He gives knowledge of that to other than Him also.”

Hence, according to Imām al-Māturīdī, complete detailed knowledge of each of these five things is hidden from all besides Allāh, although certain particulars from them may be disclosed to some of creation.

The interpretation offered by Barelwīs that the restriction refers to “intrinsic knowledge” or knowledge that is not acquired through a means, so it is possible that complete knowledge of any one of these five things was acquired via revelation from Allāh, is invalidated by the narrations which clearly state that revealed knowledge is also negated.

Imām Ahmad narrates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

قد علم الله خيرا، وإن من العلم ما لا يعلمه إلا الله: الخمس

“Allāh has taught (me) well, but verily there is some knowledge which only Allāh knows: the five…”

Hāfiz Ibn Kathīr states its isnād is sahīh. (Tafsīr Ibn Kathīr, p. 1471)

Similarly, in a mutāwatir hadith narrated by over a dozen Sahābah through different chains of transmission, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) explained that some of the people who accompanied him in this world will be driven away from his hawd (fount); recognising them he will call out, “my companions”, “they are from me” and so on; but the angels and Allāh Himself will explain that they turned their back on the religion after his demise and he was not aware of this; consequently, he will say, as reported in some of these narrations: “I was a witness over them for as long as I was amongst them. When you caused me to die, You became the Watcher over them.” This has been narrated from the following Sahābah:

1. ‘Abdullah ibn Mas‘ūd

2. ‘Ā’ishah

3. Umm Salamah

4. Asmā’ bint Abī Bakr

5. ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbās

6. Sahl ibn Sa‘d

7. Anas ibn Mālik

8. Hudhayfah ibn al-Yamān

9. Abū Sa‘īd al-Khudrī

10. Abū Hurayrah

11. Abud Darda

12. Abū Bakrah

13. Umar

The narrations in Arabic with their references can be found in the endnote. [1]

Some may object that this conflicts with the hadīth stating that the deeds of the ummah are shown to the Prophet (peace be upon him). However, this refers only to the actions of his true ummah and community: the believers. It does not refer to disbelievers, heretics, hypocrites and renegades from the religion, as stated by Ibn al-Mulaqqin, Badr al-Dīn al-‘Aynī and others. Thus, Ibn al-Mulaqqin said:

فإن قلت: كيف خفي عليه حالهم مع إخباره بعرض أمته عليه؟ قلت: ليسوا من أمته كما قلنا وإنما يعرض عليه أعمال الموحدين لا المرتدين والمنافقين

“If you say: How was their condition hidden to him despite his report of [the actions of] his ummah being shown to him? I say: They are not from his ummah as we said. Only the actions of the monotheists will be shown to him, not the apostates and hypocrites.” (Tawdīh, 19:371)

And finally, this Barelwī belief entails the false belief discussed earlier that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has knowledge of the precise timing of the Final Hour, because if the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has full knowledge of all future events, including their timings and dates, he must be aware of the exact timing of the Final Hour.

This belief also conflicts with the Hanafī school. Imām Abu l-Qāsim al-Saffār (d. 336), a great early Hanafī faqīh, said it is disbelief for a person to make Allāh and His Messenger a witness over his marriage as it amounts to claiming the Prophet (peace be upon him) has knowledge of this particular marriage session and that is from the ghayb (i.e. something to which there is no proven means for his acquisition of it). This was transmitted from him by many of the authors of Hanafī fatāwā, e.g. al-Fatāwā al-Walwālijiyyah, Khulāsat al-Fatāwā, al-Muhīt al-Burhanī, al-Fatāwā al-Bazzāziyyah, al-Fatāwā al-Tatārkhāniyyah etc. However, it is reported from the author of al-Multaqat – probably Abu l-Qāsim al-Samarqandī, a Hanafī jurist of the sixth century – that he did not agree that this statement is disbelief on the grounds that some particular aspects of the future are disclosed to the Prophet (peace be upon him) while he is in the grave, and it is possible that this marriage session is amongst them. Hence, the author of Majma‘ al-Anhur states: “If one were to marry a woman with the testimony of Allāh, Exalted is He, and His Messenger, the marriage is invalid, and according to Abu l-Qāsim al-Saffār, it is pure disbelief because he believes that the Messenger of Allāh, upon him peace, knows the ghayb, and that is disbelief. In al-Tatārkhāniyyah [quoting from al-Multaqat], it states that it is not disbelief because some things are shown to his soul, upon him blessing and peace, so he is aware of some of the unseen.” It should be noted, however, that both these views contradict the claim that complete knowledge of future events until the Final Hour are disclosed to the Prophet (peace be upon him). Hence, this Barelwī belief, just like the previous belief, is also in opposition to the Hanafī Māturīdī school.

3. Thirdly, many Barelwīs believe the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was only a human being as far as the laws of the material world are concerned. However, with respect to his true reality, he is not a human being, but a physical light.

Ahmad Ridā Khān al-Barelwī alluded to this view in his translation of the Qur’ān where he translated the verse, “Say: I am but a man like you” as follows: “Say: I am like you in outward human appearance.”

Barelwī debater, ‘Umar Icharwī (1319 – 1391 H), explicitly says: “Thus it is established from this verse that the reality of the Chosen One (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) was not of human nature, but his reality was of light.” (Miqyās e Nūr, p 24) And he says: “The Chosen One (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) was really light, and the divine power sent him into the world through the intermediary of his mother and father by giving the light a human and celestial form. The Muhammadan reality of light overpowered his blessed body. Thus, from amongst the creatures made of light, angels were also of light. However, when Hazrat Jibril Amīn (upon him peace) appeared, dressed in a human body, his human body overpowered his celestial nature, such that in this specific bodily form he could not fly to the furthest lote tree, and in fact he could not go to the first heaven. But the true light of the Chosen One (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) overpowered his human body, which together with the bodily and celestial nature traversed all the heavens…” (26-7)

Ahmad Yār Khān states that the Prophet was only a man in terms of the laws of the world. His evidence is that humanity began with Ādam (peace be upon him), yet it is proven from hadīths that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was a prophet while Ādam was between spirit and body. Hence, according to him, his reality at that time was not a human being but another creation. He merely appeared in the form of a man in this ephemeral world. His reality, however, is neither that of a man, jinni or angel. Hence, he states, a person from the followers of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) may not refer to him as a man or a human being. It is necessary to avoid calling him a man because it is similar to how the non-Muslims referred to him. As far as the Qur’ānic command: “Say I am a man like you,” is concerned, he says this was permitted only for the Prophet, and was intended to attract the disbelievers to him, since a person is naturally averse to a being with a different nature. Hence, the statement “I am a man like you” can be likened to a hunter who imitates the voice of his prey so as to attract it to him and capture it! (Jā al-Haqq, p. 392-4)

This is a rejected and baseless opinion. It is also an extremely dangerous belief that may amount to denial of the reality of the Prophet’s humanity, which is disbelief. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), like all people, was created as a human being. Moreover, it is untrue that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) described himself as a “man like you” only to the disbelievers. Rather, he said this on many occasions to his own companions, the Sahābah, as recorded in a number of authentic hadīths. Hence, in his humanity, he is no different to other human beings. In his spirituality and his lofty position with Allāh, he is of course completely different from all other human beings. Mawlānā Ashraf ‘Alī al-Thānawī issued a fatwā of disbelief on one who believes that the Prophet (peace be upon him) is a human being only in his outward form, but not in reality (Imdād al-Fatāwā, 5:234).

Conclusion

These misguided views, some of which border on disbelief, are not the only problematic opinions held by Barelwīs. The three views discussed above were presented as examples. Or else, there are other beliefs professed by Barelwīs which oppose the clear teachings of the Ahlus Sunnah wa l-Jamā‘ah, like the belief that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has universal authority (mukhtār al-kull) and is able to accomplish anything in creation merely by his intent and will; the belief that the Prophet’s (peace and blessings be upon him) hearing while in his grave extends to all places, remote and near; and the belief that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is not in reality unlettered (ummī) but can in fact read and write.

Imām ‘Abdur Rahmān al-‘Awzā‘ī (may Allāh have mercy on him) is reported to have said: “Whoever adopts the isolated positions of the ‘ulamā’ leaves Islām.” The Barelwī methodology is one of adopting rare and at times, unfounded, positions in its beliefs about the being and attributes of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). Hence, the Barelwī movement cannot be regarded as a branch of Ahlus Sunnah wa l-Jamā‘ah. Rather, it is a deviant and misguided group, rivalling the Wahhābīs in its liberal and reckless attitude to takfīr, while basing its ideology on a belief-system centred around the personality of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) at odds with the established creed of Ahlus Sunnah wa l-Jamā‘ah.

[1]ابن عباس رضي الله عنهما
حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ كَثِيرٍ، أَخْبَرَنَا سُفْيَانُ، حَدَّثَنَا المُغِيرَةُ بْنُ النُّعْمَانِ، قَالَ: حَدَّثَنِي سَعِيدُ بْنُ جُبَيْرٍ، عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمَا، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، قَالَ: ” إِنَّكُمْ مَحْشُورُونَ حُفَاةً عُرَاةً غُرْلًا، ثُمَّ قَرَأَ: {كَمَا بَدَأْنَا أَوَّلَ خَلْقٍ نُعِيدُهُ وَعْدًا عَلَيْنَا إِنَّا كُنَّا فَاعِلِينَ} [الأنبياء: 104]، وَأَوَّلُ مَنْ يُكْسَى يَوْمَ القِيَامَةِ إِبْرَاهِيمُ، وَإِنَّ أُنَاسًا مِنْ أَصْحَابِي يُؤْخَذُ بِهِمْ ذَاتَ الشِّمَالِ، فَأَقُولُ أَصْحَابِي أَصْحَابِي، فَيَقُولُ: إِنَّهُمْ لَمْ يَزَالُوا مُرْتَدِّينَ عَلَى أَعْقَابِهِمْ مُنْذُ فَارَقْتَهُمْ، فَأَقُولُ كَمَا قَالَ العَبْدُ الصَّالِحُ “: {وَكُنْتُ عَلَيْهِمْ شَهِيدًا مَا دُمْتُ فِيهِمْ فَلَمَّا تَوَفَّيْتَنِي} – إِلَى قَوْلِهِ – {العَزِيزُ الحَكِيمُ} – متفق عليه، واللفظ للبخاريعبد الله بن مسعود رضي الله عنه

حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو بَكْرِ بْنُ أَبِي شَيْبَةَ، وَأَبُو كُرَيْبٍ، وَابْنُ نُمَيْرٍ، قَالُوا: حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو مُعَاوِيَةَ، عَنِ الْأَعْمَشِ، عَنْ شَقِيقٍ، عَنْ عَبْدِ اللهِ، قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: ” أَنَا فَرَطُكُمْ عَلَى الْحَوْضِ، وَلَأُنَازِعَنَّ أَقْوَامًا ثُمَّ لَأُغْلَبَنَّ عَلَيْهِمْ، فَأَقُولُ: يَا رَبِّ أَصْحَابِي، أَصْحَابِي، فَيُقَالُ: إِنَّكَ لَا تَدْرِي مَا أَحْدَثُوا بَعْدَكَ – متفق عليه، واللفظ لمسلم

أنس بن مالك رضي الله عنه

حَدَّثَنَا مُسْلِمُ بْنُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ، حَدَّثَنَا وُهَيْبٌ، حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ العَزِيزِ، عَنْ أَنَسٍ، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ: ” لَيَرِدَنَّ عَلَيَّ نَاسٌ مِنْ أَصْحَابِي الحَوْضَ، حَتَّى عَرَفْتُهُمْ اخْتُلِجُوا دُونِي، فَأَقُولُ: أَصْحَابِي، فَيَقُولُ: لاَ تَدْرِي مَا أَحْدَثُوا بَعْدَكَ – متفق عليه، واللفظ للبخاري

حذيفة بن اليمان رضي الله عنهما

وحَدَّثَنِي عَمْرُو بْنُ عَلِيٍّ، حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ جَعْفَرٍ، حَدَّثَنَا شُعْبَةُ، عَنِ المُغِيرَةِ، قَالَ: سَمِعْتُ أَبَا وَائِلٍ، عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ: ” أَنَا فَرَطُكُمْ عَلَى الحَوْضِ، وَلَيُرْفَعَنَّ مَعِي رِجَالٌ مِنْكُمْ ثُمَّ لَيُخْتَلَجُنَّ دُونِي، فَأَقُولُ: يَا رَبِّ أَصْحَابِي، فَيُقَالُ: إِنَّكَ لاَ تَدْرِي مَا أَحْدَثُوا بَعْدَكَ ” تَابَعَهُ عَاصِمٌ، عَنْ أَبِي وَائِلٍ، وَقَالَ حُصَيْنٌ: عَنْ أَبِي وَائِلٍ، عَنْ حُذَيْفَةَ، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ – صحيح البخاري

حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ أَحْمَدَ الرَّقَّامُ، ثَنَا يَعْقُوبُ بْنُ إِسْحَاقَ الْقُلُوسِيُّ، ثَنَا يَحْيَى بْنُ حَمَّادٍ، نَا أَبُو عَوَانَةَ، عَنْ حُصَيْنٍ، عَنْ أَبِي وَائِلٍ، عَنْ حُذَيْفَةَ، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ: «لَيَرِدَنَّ عَلَى الْحَوْضِ أَقْوَامٌ، فَأَعْرِفُهُمْ، فَيَخْتَلِجُوا دُونِي، فَأَقُولُ: مِنِّي، فَيُقَالُ: إِنَّكَ لَا تَدْرِي مَا أَحْدَثُوا بَعْدَكَ – المعجم الأوسط

سهل بن سعد رضي الله عنه

حَدَّثَنَا سَعِيدُ بْنُ أَبِي مَرْيَمَ، حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ مُطَرِّفٍ، حَدَّثَنِي أَبُو حَازِمٍ، عَنْ سَهْلِ بْنِ سَعْدٍ، قَالَ: قَالَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: «إِنِّي فَرَطُكُمْ عَلَى الحَوْضِ، مَنْ مَرَّ عَلَيَّ شَرِبَ، وَمَنْ شَرِبَ لَمْ يَظْمَأْ أَبَدًا، لَيَرِدَنَّ عَلَيَّ أَقْوَامٌ أَعْرِفُهُمْ وَيَعْرِفُونِي، ثُمَّ يُحَالُ بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَهُمْ» قَالَ أَبُو حَازِمٍ: فَسَمِعَنِي النُّعْمَانُ بْنُ أَبِي عَيَّاشٍ، فَقَالَ: هَكَذَا سَمِعْتَ مِنْ سَهْلٍ؟ فَقُلْتُ: نَعَمْ، فَقَالَ: أَشْهَدُ عَلَى أَبِي سَعِيدٍ الخُدْرِيِّ، لَسَمِعْتُهُ وَهُوَ يَزِيدُ فِيهَا: ” فَأَقُولُ إِنَّهُمْ مِنِّي، فَيُقَالُ: إِنَّكَ لاَ تَدْرِي مَا أَحْدَثُوا بَعْدَكَ، فَأَقُولُ: سُحْقًا سُحْقًا لِمَنْ غَيَّرَ بَعْدِي – متفق عليه، واللفظ للبخاري

أبو هريرة رضي الله عنه

 

وَقَالَ أَحْمَدُ بْنُ شَبِيبِ بْنِ سَعِيدٍ الحَبَطِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا أَبِي، عَنْ يُونُسَ، عَنْ ابْنِ شِهَابٍ، عَنْ سَعِيدِ بْنِ المُسَيِّبِ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ: أَنَّهُ كَانَ يُحَدِّثُ: أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ: ” يَرِدُ عَلَيَّ يَوْمَ القِيَامَةِ رَهْطٌ مِنْ أَصْحَابِي، فَيُحَلَّئُونَ عَنِ الحَوْضِ، فَأَقُولُ: يَا رَبِّ أَصْحَابِي، فَيَقُولُ: إِنَّكَ لاَ عِلْمَ لَكَ بِمَا أَحْدَثُوا بَعْدَكَ، إِنَّهُمُ ارْتَدُّوا عَلَى أَدْبَارِهِمْ القَهْقَرَى – متفق عليه، واللفظ للبخاري

أبو سعيد الخدري رضي الله عنه

حَدَّثَنَا سَعِيدُ بْنُ أَبِي مَرْيَمَ، حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ مُطَرِّفٍ، حَدَّثَنِي أَبُو حَازِمٍ، عَنْ سَهْلِ بْنِ سَعْدٍ، قَالَ: قَالَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: «إِنِّي فَرَطُكُمْ عَلَى الحَوْضِ، مَنْ مَرَّ عَلَيَّ شَرِبَ، وَمَنْ شَرِبَ لَمْ يَظْمَأْ أَبَدًا، لَيَرِدَنَّ عَلَيَّ أَقْوَامٌ أَعْرِفُهُمْ وَيَعْرِفُونِي، ثُمَّ يُحَالُ بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَهُمْ» قَالَ أَبُو حَازِمٍ: فَسَمِعَنِي النُّعْمَانُ بْنُ أَبِي عَيَّاشٍ، فَقَالَ: هَكَذَا سَمِعْتَ مِنْ سَهْلٍ؟ فَقُلْتُ: نَعَمْ، فَقَالَ: أَشْهَدُ عَلَى أَبِي سَعِيدٍ الخُدْرِيِّ، لَسَمِعْتُهُ وَهُوَ يَزِيدُ فِيهَا: ” فَأَقُولُ إِنَّهُمْ مِنِّي، فَيُقَالُ: إِنَّكَ لاَ تَدْرِي مَا أَحْدَثُوا بَعْدَكَ، فَأَقُولُ: سُحْقًا سُحْقًا لِمَنْ غَيَّرَ بَعْدِي – صحيح البخاري

عائشة رضي الله عنها

وَحَدَّثَنَا ابْنُ أَبِي عُمَرَ، حَدَّثَنَا يَحْيَى بْنُ سُلَيْمٍ، عَنِ ابْنِ خُثَيْمٍ، عَنْ عَبْدِ اللهِ بْنِ عُبَيْدِ اللهِ بْنِ أَبِي مُلَيْكَةَ، أَنَّهُ سَمِعَ عَائِشَةَ، تَقُولُ: سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَقُولُ: وَهُوَ بَيْنَ ظَهْرَانَيْ أَصْحَابِهِ ” إِنِّي عَلَى الْحَوْضِ أَنْتَظِرُ مَنْ يَرِدُ عَلَيَّ مِنْكُمْ، فَوَاللهِ لَيُقْتَطَعَنَّ دُونِي رِجَالٌ، فَلَأَقُولَنَّ: أَيْ رَبِّ مِنِّي وَمِنْ أُمَّتِي، فَيَقُولُ: «إِنَّكَ لَا تَدْرِي مَا عَمِلُوا بَعْدَكَ، مَا زَالُوا يَرْجِعُونَ عَلَى أَعْقَابِهِمْ» – صحيح مسلم

أم سلمة رضي الله عنها

وحَدَّثَنِي يُونُسُ بْنُ عَبْدِ الْأَعْلَى الصَّدَفِيُّ، أَخْبَرَنَا عَبْدُ اللهِ بْنُ وَهْبٍ، أَخْبَرَنِي عَمْرٌو وَهُوَ ابْنُ الْحَارِثِ أَنَّ بُكَيْرًا، حَدَّثَهُ عَنِ الْقَاسِمِ بْنِ عَبَّاسٍ الْهَاشِمِيِّ، عَنْ عَبْدِ اللهِ بْنِ رَافِعٍ، مَوْلَى أُمِّ سَلَمَةَ، عَنْ أُمِّ سَلَمَةَ، زَوْجِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، أَنَّهَا قَالَتْ: كُنْتُ أَسْمَعُ النَّاسَ يَذْكُرُونَ الْحَوْضَ، وَلَمْ أَسْمَعْ ذَلِكَ مِنْ رَسُولِ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، فَلَمَّا كَانَ يَوْمًا مِنْ ذَلِكَ، وَالْجَارِيَةُ تَمْشُطُنِي، فَسَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَقُولُ: «أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ» فَقُلْتُ لِلْجَارِيَةِ: اسْتَأْخِرِي عَنِّي، قَالَتْ: إِنَّمَا دَعَا الرِّجَالَ وَلَمْ يَدْعُ النِّسَاءَ، فَقُلْتُ: إِنِّي مِنَ النَّاسِ، فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: ” إِنِّي لَكُمْ فَرَطٌ عَلَى الْحَوْضِ، فَإِيَّايَ لَا يَأْتِيَنَّ أَحَدُكُمْ فَيُذَبُّ عَنِّي كَمَا يُذَبُّ الْبَعِيرُ الضَّالُّ، فَأَقُولُ: فِيمَ هَذَا؟ فَيُقَالُ: إِنَّكَ لَا تَدْرِي مَا أَحْدَثُوا بَعْدَكَ، فَأَقُولُ: سُحْقًا – صحيح مسلم

أسماء بنت أبي بكر رضي الله عنهما

حدَّثَنَا عَلِيُّ بْنُ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ، حَدَّثَنَا بِشْرُ بْنُ السَّرِيِّ، حَدَّثَنَا نَافِعُ بْنُ عُمَرَ، عَنِ ابْنِ أَبِي مُلَيْكَةَ، قَالَ: قَالَتْ أَسْمَاءُ: عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، قَالَ: ” أَنَا عَلَى حَوْضِي أَنْتَظِرُ مَنْ يَرِدُ عَلَيَّ، فَيُؤْخَذُ بِنَاسٍ مِنْ دُونِي، فَأَقُولُ: أُمَّتِي، فَيُقَالُ: لاَ تَدْرِي، مَشَوْا عَلَى القَهْقَرَى – متفق عليه، واللفظ للبخاري)

أبو بكرة رضي الله عنه

 

حَدَّثَنَا عَفَّانُ حَدَّثَنَا حَمَّادُ بْنُ سَلَمَةَ عَنْ عَلِيِّ بْنِ زَيْدٍ عَنِ الْحَسَنِ عَنْ أَبِي بَكْرَةَ أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ: ” لَيَرِدَنَّ عَلَى الْحَوْضِ رِجَالٌ مِمَّنْ صَحِبَنِي وَرَآنِي حَتَّى إِذَا رُفِعُوا إِلَيَّ اخْتُلِجُوا دُونِي فَلَأَقُولَنَّ: رَبِّ , أَصْحَابِي , فَلَيُقَالَنَّ: إِنَّكَ لَا تَدْرِي مَا أَحْدَثُوا بَعْدَكَ – مصنف ابن أبي شيبة

أبو الدرداء رضي الله عنه

حَدَّثَنَا أَحْمَدُ بْنُ خُلَيْدٍ قَالَ: نا أَبُو تَوْبَةَ قَالَ: نا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ مُهَاجِرٍ، عَنْ يَزِيدَ بْنِ أَبِي مَرْيَمَ، عَنْ أَبِي عُبَيْدِ اللَّهِ مُسْلِمِ بْنِ مِشْكَمٍ، عَنْ أَبِي الدَّرْدَاءِ قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: «لَا أُلْفِيَنَّ مَا نُوزِعْتُ أَحَدًا مِنْكُمْ عَلَى الْحَوْضِ، فَأَقُولُ: هَذَا مِنْ أَصْحَابِي فَيُقَالُ: إِنَّكَ لَا تَدْرِي مَا أَحْدَثُوا بَعْدَكَ» . قَالَ أَبُو الدَّرْدَاءِ: يَا نَبِيَّ اللَّهِ، ادْعُ اللَّهَ أَنْ لَا يَجْعَلَنِي مِنْهُمْ. قَالَ: «لَسْتَ مِنْهُمْ»

عمر بن الخطاب رضي الله عنه

وقال الحافظ أبو يعلى الموصلي: حدثنا زهير، حدثنا يونس بن محمد، حدثنا يعقوب بن عبد الله الأشعري، حدثنا حفص بن حميد، عن عكرمة، عن ابن عباس، عن عمر بن الخطاب، رضي الله عنه، قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: “إني ممسك بحجزكم: هلم عن النار، هلم عن النار، وتغلبوني وتقاحمون فيها تقاحم الفراش والجنادب، فأوشك أن أرسل حجزكم وأنا فرطكم على الحوض، فتردون علي معا وأشتاتا، أعرفكم بسيماكم وأسمائكم، كما يعرف الرجل الغريب من الإبل في إبله، فيذهب بكم ذات اليمين وذات الشمال، فأناشد فيكم رب العالمين: أي رب، قومي، أي رب أمتي فيقال: يا محمد، إنك لا تدري ما أحدثوا بعدك، إنهم كانوا يمشون بعدك القهقرى على أعقابهم. انتهى من تفسير ابن كثير

قال ابن كثير تحته: وقال علي بن المديني: هذا حديث حسن الإسناد، إلا أن حفص بن حميد مجهول، لا أعلم روى عنه غير يعقوب بن عبد الله الأشعري القمي. قلت: بل قد روى عنه أيضا أشعث بن إسحاق، وقال فيه يحيى بن معين: صالح. ووثقه

 


Istighathah: Seeking aid from other than Allah

October 1, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

____________________________

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

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

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

[4] Ibid [↩]

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

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

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

[8] See fatwa of Dr. Zuhayli [↩]

[9] See fatwa of Dr. Zuhayli [↩]

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

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

Source: http://www.deoband.org/2010/09/aqida/deviant-beliefs/istighatha-seeking-help-from-other-than-allah/


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)

Qur’an

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.

Hadith

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.

Note

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.

Bibliography

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)