Abu Hasan of sunniport released a new ebook on the biography of his “Alahazrat,” Ahmad Rida Khan, the founder of the Barelwi school. In the course of the biography, he repeatedly disparages Deobandis, Deobandi elders and their forerunners – in what is supposed to be a biography of his leader – and then claims it is the Deobandis who have an axe to grind! Anyhow, with reference to Deobandis, there are a number of inaccuracies, lies and slanders, in highlighting which I hope it is clear to readers that Abu Hasan is not a trustworthy source. Moreover, it should also be clear that he does not address the substantial replies already available.
On pg. 17, he said: “Deobandis are Wahabis with a difference: they accept and adhere to madh’habs.”
Deobandis have many other differences to the Arabian Wahhabis listed in for example Mawlana Manzur Nu’mani’s book on Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab called Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab aur Hindustan ke ‘Ulama Haqq.
For example, Deobandis believe it is recommended to visit the grave of the Prophet (peace be upon him) from far, Wahhabis don’t; Deobandis allow tawassul through personalities, Wahhabis don’t; Deobandis differentiate between different intentions associated with istighathah, Wahhabis don’t; Wahhabis are neutral or antagonistic to Tasawwuf, Deobandis embrace it; etc.
On pg. 17, he said: “Deobandi elders believe that it is not impossible for Allāh táālā to lie”
Deobandis believe it is impossible for Allah to lie; but they differ from Barelwis as to the reason for its impossibility – is it an intrinsic impossibility or one contingent on Allah’s choice? Deobandis opt for the latter – an opinion found in classical kalam works. This is therefore purposely misleading as it gives the impression Deobandis believe it is actually possible for a lie to occur in Allah’s speech! Mawlana Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri wrote in al-Muhannad, signed by many prominent Deobandi elders: “We and our elders (Allah Most High have mercy on them) declare and are convinced that all speech that issued from the Creator (Great and Glorious is He) or will issue from Him is absolutely truthful, and it is certain that it concurs with reality. Undoubtedly, there is no trace of falsehood in any part of His (Exalted is He) Speech, nor any doubt about [the absence of] contravening reality [in His Speech]. Whoever believes contrary to this or conceives of a lie in any part of His Speech, is a disbeliever, apostate and heretic, and does not have even a trace of faith.”
On pg. 17, he said: “[Deobandi elders believe] that it is bidáh to believe that Allāh does not have a direction”
In Mawlana Khalil Ahmad Saharanpuri’s al-Muhannad ‘ala l-Mufannad, signed by many of the Deobandi elders (including Shaykh al-Hind and Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanawi), it says: “As for direction and place, we do not allow affirming them for Him – Exalted is He – and we say that He – Exalted is He – is pure and transcendent beyond them and from all qualities of temporality.” (وأما الجهة والمكان فلا نجوز إثباتهما له تعالى ونقول إنه تعالى منزه ومتعال عنهما وعن جميع سمات الحدوث)
A more glaring slander and lie, one cannot find.
On g. 33, he says: “We ask Deobandis who pretend to be Sunnis and claim to have nothing to do with Wahhabism, to show us a single book or booklet written by any of their prominent scholars denouncing Wahhabism.” He continues: “A couple of words in a book by one of their scholars is no proof; is there a full fledged refutation of Wahabis anywhere? How can it exist when it was the kingpin of their ideology, Ismāýīl Dihlawī, who introduced this heresy in India.”
He asks this question, as though “Wahhabism” itself is an identifiable “heretical belief.” You have to first describe the particular belief of “Wahhabism” that is heretical in order to refute it. And indeed Deobandis have refuted many wrong beliefs commonly associated with Wahhabis; e.g. total abandonment of taqlid (see: http://attahawi.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/al-din-al-qayyim.pdf), antagonism to tasawwuf, vilification of the Hanafi school and Abu Hanifah (see: I’la al-Sunan), prohibiting visitation to the prophet’s grave (peace be upon him) from afar (see: http://attahawi.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/chapters-on-the-prophetic-visitation2.pdf), rejection of the correct kind of tawassul, understanding Allah’s attributes literally etc.
Furthermore, Shah Isma’il did not introduce any version of “Wahhabism” in India as he had no access to it. When he traveled to the Hijaz for Hajj the Wahhabis had already been expelled. See: http://www.deoband.org/2010/06/history/answering-distortions-and-lies/shattering-the-wahhabi-myths-surrounding-shah-isma%E2%80%98il-shahid/
On pg. 33, he says: “True, they [Deobandis] claim to oppose Anti-Madh’habism” and in his footnote he mentions: “See works by Anwar Shāh Kashmīrī and Abū Ghuddah.”
Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah is not representative of the Deobandi school; so this is an example of inaccuracy. Furthermore, there are no well-known works where ‘Allamah Anwar Shah Kashmiri tackles the issue of madhhabism (yes, he has books defending the Hanafi madhhab, but that is another matter). Another inaccuracy.
On pg. 33 he says: “Nuz’hatu’l Khawāţir has scholarly slanders; and dozens of books like Shihāb al-Thāqib, booklets of Chandpūrī, and Al-Baraylawiyyah of Ihsan Ilahi Zaheer are remarkable for cheap and tawdry insults”
He says this as though he hasn’t read “Alahazrat’s” works! According to him, the harsh words of Mawlana Madani and Mawlana Chandpuri are “cheap insults” but the filthy language of his Alahazrat is completely justified. If we are fair, we will say both sides engaged in ad hominem attacks, but who started the insults? Sure enough, it was his “Alahazrat.” Mawlanas Chandpuri and Mawlana Madani only responded.
On pg. 33, he says: “It is also true that Ismāýīl Dihlawī, their grand imām, was the first to introduce Wahabi thought in India and derided adherence to madh’habs. Modern spinmeisters present him as a Ĥanafī, and Deobandis choose to ignore the subject”
Firstly, Shah Isma‘il held the position that taqlid mutlaq (i.e. taqlid not restricted to a particular madhhab) is binding on a common person, as mentioned in Nuzhat al-Khawatir (p. 915). Some Deobandis also held this view. For example, in al-Din al-Qayyim, Mawlana Thanawi’s student, Mawlana Habib Ahmad al-Kiranawi said: “If all the madhhabs are prevalent in a town from the towns and they are well-known, and large numbers of scholars specialised in every madhhab are present therein, it is permissible for the layperson to follow whichever madhhab from the madhhabs he wishes and all of them with respect to him are equal. It is also permissible for him not to adopt a specific madhhab and seek fatwa from whoever he wishes from the ulama of those madhhabs, this madhhab one time and that madhhab another time, as the pious predecessors (Allah be pleased with them) would do, with the condition that there is no talfiq in an action, and no seeking out of concessions and following of desires.”. [However, elsewhere in the book he seems to suggest taqlid shakhsi is obligatory in this time based on it being difficult for common people to avoid these consequences, of talfiq, seeking out concessions etc.] Shah Isma’il has precedence for this in some of the writings of his grandfather, Shah Wali Allah.
Most Deobandis believe in the obligation of taqlid shakhsi (i.e. sticking to one madhhab) due to secondary, circumstantial reasons i.e. to prevent the masses from falling into talfiq, following desires, seeking out concessions and following shadhdh opinions. See: http://www.deoband.org/2012/07/general/taqlid-and-ijtihad/the-issue-of-taqlid-and-adopting-a-madhhab/
As for the claim “Deobandis choose to ignore the subject,” it is demonstrably false and another clear inaccuracy. Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi himself addressed the issue! He said in Fatawa Rashidiyyah: “That which this slave has heard, it was the condition of the deceased Mawlana [i.e. Shah Isma‘il] that as long as a non-abrogated authentic hadith could be found, he would act on that; and if it could not be found, he would do taqlid of Imam Abu Hanifah – And Allah Ta’ala knows best…” (p. 93) He goes on to say this is what becomes clear from reading his books.
Nuzhat al-Khawatir also mentions that Shah Isma’il believed in the divisibility of ijtihad and taqlid; which means the permissibility of doing ijtihad in one area when having mastered that area to the level of ijtihad; while doing taqlid in other areas where one has not reached the level of ijtihad. This is consistent with what Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi mentioned. Hence, Shah Isma‘il’s own preferences in fiqh may be based on a mix of personal ijtihad and adherence to the Hanafi school. There is no inherent heresy in this.
On pg. 35, referring to Taqwiyat al-Iman, he said: “commonly accepted practices like tawassul were slammed as polytheistic”
In fact, far from saying it is polytheistic, Shah Isma‘il said tawassul through personalities was correct in Taqwiyat al-Iman! He wrote: “But if it is said, ‘O Allah, give me for the sake [i.e., for the sake of his close relationship to You and his virtuous deeds] of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir’, then this is allowed” (Taqwiyat al-Iman, p.123). http://www.deoband.org/2010/06/history/answering-distortions-and-lies/shattering-the-wahhabi-myths-surrounding-shah-isma%E2%80%98il-shahid/
On pg. 35, he says: “Deobandi/Wahābī literature is chock full of rulings making takfīr on numerous things, yet Nadawi chose to describe Alahazrat as the flag-bearer of takfīr”
Notice the difference: Deobandis do takfir of numerous things, (like the belief the Prophet – peace be upon him – has knowledge of literally all ‘things’ including the time of the Hour, or he is literally a light and a human only in form). But “Alahazrat” did not do takfir of “things” but of people. He named specific people and went on a campaign to the Haramayn to have them declared kafirs. The description “flag-bearer of takfir” is therefore quite appropriate for him. Deobandis did not go out of their way to name and shame particular individuals, but focused on problematic beliefs; on the other hand, “Alahazrat’s” sole mission was to declare certain prominent individuals kafir.
On page 36, he asks a list of questions and then claims “Alahazrat” was careful in his takfir. This is an example of where he does not address already available material. All his questions and the patent lie that “Alahazrat” was careful in takfir are addressed in Fayslah Kun Munazarah, now translated – of which Abu Hasan is fully aware. (https://barelwism.wordpress.com/2012/03/20/the-decisive-debate-mawlana-manzur-numani/)
On pg 38, he said: “Nadawi, probably afraid that Arabic reading scholars would not buy the slander, resorted to falsehood when he accused Alahazrat that he “believed RasūlAllāh had complete knowledge of the unseen.””
Mawlana Nadwi also explained what is meant by this in “Ala’hazrat’s” usage where he continued to say:
“Thus, [according to Ahmad Rida Khan,] he [i.e. the Prophet – peace be upon him] knows all the universals and particulars from the beginning of creation till the establishment of Qiyamah, nay till entrance into Paradise and Hell, no minor thing straying from his knowledge, and no atom escaping his encompassment…” (Nuzhat al-Khawatir p. 1181)
Nadwi therefore describes Rida Khan’s beliefs accurately, as he certainly did believe and defended the view that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had full knowledge of all existents (literally: kullu shay’).
On pg. 56, he says: “Ismāýīl…was slain by upright Muslims in Balakot – but Deobandi/Wahābī followers colour it as a martyrdom”
Shah Isma’il was killed by Sikhs. The Balakot Battle was led by Maharajat Sher Sing. See for example, Sayyid Abu l-Hasan Nadwi’s Idha Habbat Rih al-Iman, 181-8. And the academic, Harlon O Pearson says: “In 1831, in a full-scale battle at the town of Balakot located in the Himalayan foothills, the Sikh army decisively defeated and dispersed the mujahidin. The two Muhammadi leaders, Sayyid Ahmad Brelwi and Muhammad Isma’il were killed.” (Islamic Reform and Revival in Nineteenth Century India, p 41)
Therefore, either this is another slander, or Abu Hasan believes that Sikhs are “upright Muslims.”
On pg. 56 with regard to the allegations against Shah Isma’il he says: “We invite Deobandis and other assorted Wahābīs to write a detailed refutation of this book and disprove Alahazrat.”
The common allegations against Shah Isma’il have been answered; see:
But again, Abu Hasan refuses to address the substantial replies already available.