Refuting the Allegation that Shah Isma’il Shahid Denied the Preservation of the Prophet’s Body

December 29, 2018

The fourth accusation Mawlana Nu’mani addresses in his book Hazrat Shah Isma’il Shahid aur Mu‘anidin Ahl e Bid‘at ka Ilzamat (pp. 70-81) is the accusation that Shah Isma’il denies the life of the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) in his grave. A summary of his reply is as follows:

First, in the passage in question, Shah Isma’il quotes the following narration:

Qays ibn Sa‘d (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated: I came to al-Hirah and I saw them prostrating to their governor, so I said [to myself]: “Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is more deserving of being prostrated to.” Then, I came to the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and I said to him: “Verily I went to al-Hirah and I saw them prostrating to their governor, while you, O Messenger of Allah, are more deserving of being prostrated to.” He said to me: “What is your opinion, if you were to pass by my grave, would you prostrate to it?” I said: “No.” He said: “Then don’t do [this].”

عن قيس بن سعد قال : أتيت الحيرة فرأيتهم يسجدون لمرزبان لهم فقلت : لرسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – أحق أن يسجد له ، فأتيت رسول الله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – فقلت : إني أتيت الحيرة فرأيتهم يسجدون لمرزبان لهم فأنت أحق بأن يسجد لك ، فقال لي : أرأيت لو مررت بقبرى أكنت تسجد له ؟ ” فقلت لا فقال : ” لا تفعلوا

(Abu Dawud)

What was the reason for the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) asking “What is your opinion, if you were to pass by my grave, would you prostrate to it”? The commentators have mentioned that the reason for this question was to illustrate that he is a mortal servant of Allah whose life upon the earth will end, and since this will be manifestly clear when he is in his grave, he asked this question. Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari said in the commentary: “‘He said to me’ – to demonstrate the greatness of lordship and realise the lowliness of servitude – ‘what is your opinion…'”

فقال لي ) : إظهارا لعظمة الربوبية وإشعارا لمذلة العبودية ( أرأيت

And then he quotes Tibi: “Meaning, prostrate to the Ever-Living One Who does not die, and Whose Dominion does not end, for you only prostrate to me now out of awe and reverence, for indeed when I am confined to the grave, this will end”

قال الطيبي – رحمه الله – : أي اسجدوا للحي الذي لا يموت ولمن ملكه لا يزول فإنك إنما تسجد لي الآن مهابة وإجلالا ، فإذا كنت رهين رمس امتنعت عنه

The upshot of these commentaries is that the question was asked in order to show the greatness of the everlasting and unperishing lordship of Allah, and the lowness of of the mortality and servitude of His creatures. Shah Isma’il’s exact statement in the commentary of the above hadith is:

ya’ni meh bhi eik din mur kur mutti meh milne wala ho, to kob sajdah ke laiq ho; sajdah to isi zat pak ko he keh neh mure kubhi

Translation: “Meaning, I will also one day die and mix with the earth when I will be undeserving of prostration. Prostration is for only such a Being that never dies.”

[This also illustrates the dishonesty of the Salafi translation GF Haddad used – there is no mention of an “eternal sleep”]

Mawlana Nu’mani says, the original text clearly says will “mix with the earth,” (mutti meh milne) and not will “become earth” (mutti ho jane), and in old Urdu “mixing with the earth” means to be buried in the grave (qabr meh dafn ho neh). Then he cites a couple of Urdu dictionaries which clearly state one of the recognised meanings of “mutti meh milne” is “being buried” (see p. 76 of the book). Mawlana Safdar mentions in Ibarat Akabir that Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi was asked about this passage from Taqwiyat al-Iman, and he replied that the phrase “mix with the earth” has both possibile meanings of “disintegration” and “burial,” and he says it was the latter that was meant by Shah Isma’il. And such a meaning is clearly consistent with the commentaries of Mulla Qari and Tibi above.