‘Allāmah ‘Abd al-Ḥayy al-Laknawī (1848 – 1886), a renowned ‘ālim and muḥaddith of the 19th century whose works are accepted amongst Deobandīs and Barelwīs, Arabs and non-Arabs, clearly and strongly refuted some extreme Barelwī beliefs.
Ḥāḍir Nāẓir/ ‘Ilm al-Ghayb
One of his fatāwā is as follows:
استفتاء: ما قولكم في رجل يظن أن الأولياء يعلمون ويسمعون نداء المنادي قريبا وبعيدا ويستمده بألفاظ يقولها الحاضر للحاضر، وينذر له بالأنعام يقول: نذرت له. بينوا توجروا
هو المصوب: هذا رجل فاسد العقيدة، بل يخشى عليه الكفر فإن سماع الأولياء النداء من بعيد ليس بثابت والعلم الكلي بجميع الجزئيات في جميع الأزمان مختص بالله جل جلاله، وقد قال فى الفتاوى البزازية: من قال إن أرواح المشايخ حاضرة تعلم يكفر، انتهى. وذكر فيه أىضا أن: من تزوج بشهادة الله ورسوله يكفر لأنه ظن أن الرسول يعلم الغيب، انتهى. والنذر لغير الله حرام، ويحرم المنذور لغير الله كما بسطه فى البحر الرائق والدر المختار وغيرهما، والله أعلم. حرره الراجي عفو ربه القوي أبو الحسنات محمد عبد الحي تجاوز الله عن ذنبه الجلي والخفي – مجموعة الفتاوى، ص٣٧٨-٣٧٩
“Question: What do you say about a man who assumes that the Awliyā’ know and hear the call of a caller from near and far, and seek his assistance using words that a person uses for someone in his presence, and makes vows of animals to him, declaring that he has made a vow to him. Explain, and be rewarded.
“Answer: [Allāh] grants rectitude. This is a man of corrupt belief. In fact, it is feared he has disbelieved because the Awliyā’ hearing the call from far is not proven, and complete knowledge of all particulars in all times is specific to Allāh (Glorious is His Grandeur). It states in al-Fatāwā al-Bazzāziyyah: ‘Whoever says the souls of Mashāyikh are present and knowing has committed disbelief.’ It also states in it: ‘Whoever marries taking as witness Allāh and His Messenger, he disbelieves because he assumes the Messenger knows the Ghayb.’ Taking a vow by other than Allāh is ḥarām, and whatever a vow was made upon is ḥarām, as explained in al-Baḥr al-Rā’iq, al-Durr al-Mukhtār and other books. This was written by one hopeful of the pardon of his Master, Abu l-Ḥasanāt Muḥammad ‘Abd al-Ḥayy, may Allāh pardon his manifest and hidden sins.” (Majmū‘at al-Fatāwā, p. 378-9)
In another fatwa in Farsi, it states:
“Question: What do you say (may Allāh ۢMost High have mercy on you) regarding the issue that is prevalent in our lands amongst the common people that in times of calamity and dire need, they call out in asking for assistance from the prophets and saints from afar believing that they are ḥāḍir & nāẓir and that whenever they implore them they are aware, and in turn, supplicate for them in the fulfilment of these needs? Is this permissible or not? Explain, and be rewarded.
“Answer: He grants direction to what is correct: In reality, such belief in the prophets and saints being ḥāḍir and nāẓir, and at all times are aware of our calling out to them even from afar is shirk, since it entails belief in ‘ilm al-ghayb for other than Him Most High, and this belief is shirk. This is because this characteristic is from those exclusive to Allāh (Great is His Grandeur), which no other being can have partnership with Him in. It states in al-Fatāwā al-Bazzāziyyah: ‘One marries without witnesses, saying: I make Allāh, His Messenger and the Angels witness, he disbelieves, because he believes that the Messenger and Angel know the Ghayb.’  Further, it states in Bazzāziyyah: ‘About this our scholars have said: Whoever says the souls of Mashāyikh are present and knowing have committed disbelief.’ And Allāh knows best. This was written by one hopeful of the pardon of his Powerful Master, Abu l-Ḥasanāt Muḥammad ‘Abd al-Ḥayy, may Allāh pardon his manifest and hidden sins.” (ibid. p. 344-5)
In al-Āthar al-Marfū‘ah, ‘Allāmah ‘Abd al-Ḥayy al-Laknawī states:
“From amongst these [fabrications] is what the sermonisers mention, that the Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) was given knowledge of the first and the last in full detail, and was granted knowledge of all that has transpired and all that will occur as a whole and in terms of its minutiae, and that there is no difference [in this respect] between his knowledge and the knowledge of his Creator in terms of encompassment and inclusiveness, and the only difference between them is that the knowledge of Allāh is pre-eternal and eternal by virtue of His own self without having been taught by another as distinguished from the knowledge of the Messenger as he acquired it by the teaching of his Maker. This is flowery speech and falsehood as stated by Ibn Ḥajar al-Makkī in al-Minaḥ al-Makkiyyah Sharḥ al-Qaṣīdah al-Hamziyyah and other spiritual masters. What is established from the verses of Qur’ān and the Prophetic ḥadīths is that [such] inclusiveness and encompassment and knowledge of all Ghayb is exclusive to the Revered Deity, and this characteristic has not been granted by the Revered Deity to any of creation. Yes, the knowledge of our Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) is more extensive and more numerous than the knowledge of all prophets and messengers; and the teaching of his Creator to him of unseen matters in relation to His teaching to others is more complete, thus he (Allāh bless him an grant him peace) is most complete in knowledge and practice and is the master of creatures in status and virtue.” (Al-Ᾱthār al-Marfū‘ah li l-Akhbār al-Mawḍū‘ah, p. 38)
He states in the same work:
“From these [fabrications] is what they state that he (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) was not unlettered but was able to write and recite from an initial natural state. This view is opposed to the Book, Sunnah and Consensus of the Ummah, so has no consideration according to those possessing understanding.” (ibid)
Note: Famous Barelwī writer, Aḥmad Yār Khān, articulated this belief. See: https://barelwism.wordpress.com/2017/04/26/barelwi-distortion-of-the-prophetic-title-ummi-unlettered/
The Hearing of the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam)
He writes in the same work:
“From these [fabrications] is what they state when mentioning the Muḥammadan hearing that he hears the blessing of one who sends blessing on him even if far from his grave without an intermediary. This is false, not confirmed by transmission. In fact, the opposite is proven, since the Prophet (Allāh bless him and grant him peace) said: ‘Whoever sends blessing on me at my grave I hear it and whoever sends blessing on me from afar, Allāh has appointed an angel for it to convey it to me.’…” (ibid. p. 46)
The Prophet Attending Majālis of Mawlid
He states in the same work:
“From these [fabrications] is what they state that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) attends the gatherings of remembering his birth himself at the mention of his birth, and they base the standing out of reverence and respect at the mention of the birth on this. This is also from the falsities; no evidence being established for it. Mere possibility and supposition are outside the parameters of explanation.” (ibid.)
‘Allāmah Laknawī mentions that those who believe such things and articulate them are guilty of major sins and fall under the prophetic warning: “Whoever lies upon me let him prepare his abode in Hell.” He says: “It is necessary for every Muslim to be careful on such matters and not say anything before investigating it in the reliable books…and not be daring in mentioning what his mind invents or something [unproven] written by those before him…” (ibid. p. 47)
Naming a New-Born “‘Abd al-Nabī”
Al-Laknawī also opposed the Barelwī practice and belief of calling someone “‘Abd al-Nabī”, “‘Abd al-Muṣṭafā” etc. He wrote:
الاستفسار: هل يجوز التسمية بعبد النبي وعبد الرسول وأمة النبي وأمة الصديق وغير ذلك؟ الاستبشار: لا يجوز كل اسم فيه لفظ العبد أو الأۢمة، أو ما يؤدي مؤداهما بأي لسان كان، إلى غير الله، صرح به علي القاري في شرح الفقه الأكبر، وقد ورد الحديث بالنهي عن ذلك في سنن أبي داود وغيره، وأما إضافة لفظ الغلام إلى غير الله فهو جائز، فيجوز غلام الرسول ولا يجوز عبد الرسول أو بنده رسول أو نحو ذلك نفع المفتي والسائل/فتاوى اللكنوي، دار ابن حزم، ص٤٢٥
“Question: Is it permissible to use the names “‘Abd al-Nabi” (bondsman of the prophet) and “‘Abd al-Rasul” (bondsman of the messenger) and “Amat al-Nabi” (bondswoman of the prophet) and “Amat al-Ṣiddiq” (bondswoman of the truthful saint) etc?
“Answer: Every name in which the words ‘‘abd’ (bondsman) and ‘amah’ (bondswoman) or their equivalents in any other language are attributed to other than Allāh (Exalted is He) is impermissible. ‘Alī al-Qārī stated this in Sharḥ al-Fiqh al-Akbar, and a ḥadīth prohibiting this appears in Sunan Abī Dāwūd and other [collections]. Attributing the word ‘Ghulām’ to other than Allāh is permissible, and thus Ghulām al-Rasūl is permissible, but ‘Abd al-Rasūl or Bandah e Rasūl or the like is not permissible.” (Naf‘ al-Muftī wa al-Sā’il, p. 425)
 The jurists also state that if one were to say the angels on their shoulders are witness to their marriage, they will not become disbelievers “because these angels are never absent from them.” (al-Muḥīṭ al-Burhānī, 7:407; see also: al-Fatāwā al-Hindiyyah, 2:288) Hence, shirk and kufr is in affirming knowledge of something to a being that is not proven that they have acquired.