Translated by the Deoband.org Team

Fatwa from Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband

Question:

What say the scholars of the faith and muftis of the firm Shari’ah about the following matter. For almost the past two years this difference is increasing day by day and the people associated with the elders of Deoband are being divided into two factions. Therefore, guide us by writing a detailed answer that is supported with proofs and with references to books to the following issues:

Is the Deobandi and Barelwi difference of a peripheral nature (furu’i) or of a fundamental (usuli) nature and in beliefs? One group says that the controversy is of a peripheral nature and that the hard stance taken by our scholars and elders of Deoband was temporary and momentary since both parties are from the Ahl al-Sunnah wa ‘l-Jama’ah, adhere to the Hanafi madhhab and to the beliefs elucidated by the Asha’ris and Maturidis, and in tariqah follow the right path.

They add that since anti-Islamic elements are rising, the Deobandis and Barelwis should unite and counter them. In light of past experiences, can such an alliance actually be successful? Is it permissible for Deobandis to move from their basic stance and positions in fiqh, and participate in [ceremonies of] ‘urs, mawlids, fatihah etc?

The other group says that the elders of Deoband’s difference with the Barelwis are not only of a peripheral nature but also of a fundamental nature (usuli) and in beliefs. For example differences relating to nur wa bashar, ‘ilm al-ghayb kulli, mukhtar al-kull, hadhir wa nadhir,1 prostrating in front of graves etc. are from the more important and main ones.

Their books also contain fatwas of kufr against the elders of Deoband. Therefore, before uniting with them, they should be asked to remove such fatwas of kufr from their books, disassociate themselves from them and rectify their beliefs.

The first group provides proofs for the permissibility of mawlid, ‘urs, etc. using some saying of the elders of Deoband such as Hakim al-Ummah Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanawi’s (may Allah mercy him) Haft Mas’alah and some statements from Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya (may Allah mercy them both).

The question is whether it is permissible to attend the Barelwis’ meetings of mawlid, ‘urs etc. if an expedience (maslahah) can be seen? Is it permissible to tolerate their actions due to an expedience and call to unite with them? Is this difference of a fundamental nature, one relating to beliefs or one of a peripheral nature? Are the Barelwis also from the Ahl al-Sunnah wa ‘l-Jama’ah?

Are the bid’ah of the Barlewis permissible and lawful in themselves according to Deobandi scholars? What is the reality of the pictures of the na’layn sharifayn (shoes of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)? Is it permissible to take blessings from them, to kiss them and place them over one’s head etc? These issues are spreading rapidly in Pakistan. It is the case until now that these people give importance to the fatwas issued by the ‘ulama of Deoband and it is hoped that they will refrain from doing anything that is contrary to the Shari’ah. Please elaborate, may you be rewarded.

With salam

Questioner: [Mawlana] Isma’il Badat2
Madinah al-Munawwarah
18/10/1417

Answer:

With praise to Allah, and peace and blessing to the Prophet. The view of the second group is correct that the dispute between the Deobandis and Barlewis is not of a peripheral nature but of a fundamental nature and related to beliefs. The view of the first group is incorrect that the two groups only have differences that are of a peripheral nature, that both are from the Ahl al-Sunnah wa ‘l-Jama’ah, adhere to the Hanafi madhhab and the beliefs of the ‘Asha’ris and Maturidis and follow the right path in Tasawwuf because the Barelwis (Radakhanis) have made additions to the beliefs of the Ahl al-Sunnah and incorporated issues that are of a peripheral nature (furu’i) into being a part of the religion that really have no base in Hanafi fiqh. For example, they have added four fundamental issues into beliefs: The issues of nur wa bashr,3 complete ‘ilm al-ghayb,4 hadhir and nadhir5 and mukhtar al-kull.6 And in the issues (masa’il) that are of a peripheral nature (furu’i): calling those apart from Allah, prostrating in front of graves, circumambulating (tawaf) graves, making vows to those apart from Allah, presenting offerings to graves, mawlid, ta’ziyyah and many other things that they have created and which are evidently bid’ah. In Tasawwuf they have also mixed many un-Islamic elements like qawwali, ecstasy (wajd) and spiritual music (sima’) etc.

In addition, the statement of the first group that the hard stance of the Deobandi ‘ulama was temporary and momentary is also untrue; rather it is correct that Deobandiyyat is the name of holding tight to the Sunnah and rejecting bid’ah. The elders of Deoband have always practiced on the verse: “Now, proclaim what you are commanded to.” (15:94) They never showed softness in matters of religion. However, they have always avoided confrontation and encounters, and condemning others with kufr, and have always tried to improve the situation with gentleness and wisdom. Their followers should also adopt this method today.

The treatise Faysalah Haft Mas’alah was written before the Deobandi maslak took shape; to derive proof from it is incorrect. As far as such statements of Shaykh Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya Saharanpuri (may Allah have mercy on him) are concerned, we are unaware of them. It is also unlawful to attend the Barelwi gatherings of mawlid, ‘urs etc. due to any expediency and their impermissibility is mentioned in the verse: “They wish that you become flexible (in your faith), so that they should become flexible (in their hostile attitude),” (68:9) and this is indicated in the verse: “For you is your faith, and for me is mine.” (109:6)

Hakim al-Ummah Mawlana Thanawi (may Allah mercy him) wrote in Imdad al-Fatwa (5:302): “The evils of customary practices and bid’ah are not worthy of being overlooked.” The summary of the question and answer mentioned in 4:380 is that those who attend ‘urs and other bid’ah, and those who unnecessarily honour them and revere them conform to the hadith: “Whoever honours a person of bid’ah has helped in destroying Islam.”7

As far as the matter of some bid’ah being lawful is concerned, it means that these matters are lawful per se such as remembering the holy birth of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) but fall into the category of bid’ah and become unlawful because of the strict adherence to certain conditions and stipulations.

As for the picture of the na’layn sharifayn, then there is no basis for this. Taking blessing from them, kissing them and putting them over one’s head has no foundation. Mawlana Thanawi has retracted from his treatise Nayl al-Shifa bi Na’l al-Mustafa in his Imdad al-Fatawa 4:378.

And Allah knows best; His knowledge is most perfect and solid.

Written by [Mufti] Sa’id Ahmad Palanpuri
Servant of Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband
23/11/1417

This answer is correct:
[Mufti] Nizam al-Din, Mufti of Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband
25/11/1417

[Mufti] Muhammad Zafir al-Din, Mufti of Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband
25/11/1417

[A question of a similar strain as the above was also sent to the muftis of Mazahir al-‘Ulum Saharanpur. For brevity’s sake, the question has been omitted. The answer was as follows:]

Fatwa from Mazahir al-‘Ulum Saharanpur

Answer:

The ‘ulama of Deoband who were mentioned in the above question,8 their students and khalifahs were all strong followers of the Sunnah and strongly opposed everything that falls into the circumference of bid ‘ah according to the principles of Shari ‘ah because the Noble Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) has said that every bid ‘ah is a deviation and it is because of this that they were meticulous in safeguarding the Ummah from this divergence.

Regarding this, their short and lengthy books are well known and famous; their refutations and fatwas are mentioned in Al-Barahin al-Qati’ah, Al-Muhannad ‘ala ‘l-Mufannad, Al-Shihab al-Thaqib, Imdad al-Fatawa and Islah al-Rusum. They have with much thinking and composure, while keeping their scholarly responsibilities in view, very openly and sternly refuted every bid’ah (that which is associated with beliefs and actions), and not just that of the Barelwis but rather in whichever region they came to know of them. This position of theirs was not temporary.

Bid’ah can never be a Sunnah, therefore its refutation also cannot be temporary. There is no permission in the Shari’ah to adopt a soft stance in refuting it. Millions of people repented from bid’ah and attached themselves to the Sunnah on account of the refutation of bid’ah that the elders of Deoband carried out and that firmness with which they opposed the people of bid’ah.

If anyone says today that there should be no strictness in refuting bid ‘ah or that, on account of some sort of expediency (maslahah), they should be adopted due to some allegorical interpretation (ta’wil), then such a person is not Deobandi even if he claims to have an attachment to the elders of Deoband. Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhalawi (may Allah sanctify his grave) was a very staunch Deobandi; he did not like even the slightest diversion from the maslak of his elders. His entire life and works bear witness to this. Anybody who attributes to him a soft stance in bid’ah is not true to his word.

The word “Ahl al-Sunnah wa ‘l-Jama’ah” is applied to the Ash’aris and the Maturidis. Ahmad Rada Khan Barelwi and his group are in no way connected to these groups. The beliefs that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) had the knowledge of the complete unseen (‘ilm al-ghayb kulli) as held by Ahmad Rada Khan and that the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) was entrusted with all powers of disposition are not held by the Ash’aris and Maturidis, has not been mentioned by anyone in the books of ‘aqa’id, and is not mentioned in any way in their books. Both these issues are clearly against the Qur’an and hadiths; these have been created by the Barelwis. If anyone regards the Barelwi sect to be from among the Ahl al-Sunnah wa ‘l-Jama’ah, then this is his clear error.

We the undersigned want to make clear to all Muslims that even now we are strict in following the Deobandi maslak which came to us from our elders of the first generation;9 we do not allow any kind of softness in this regard. And Allah is the one who grants accordance (tawfiq).

[Mawlana] Muhammad ‘Aaqil, head of teachers
[Mawlana] Muhammad Salman, deputy nazim10
[Mufti] Maqsud ‘Ali, mufti of the madrasah
[Mufti] ‘Abd al-Rahman, mufti of the madrasah

Stamped with the seal of the Dar al-Ifta of Mazahir al-‘Ulum Saharanpur

Islah Mafahim par Tahqiqi Nazr, (Lahore; Madrasah Khuddam Ahl al-Sunnah, 2006) p.435-442.

  1. Nur wa bashar – whether the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) is human or light; ‘ilm al-ghayb kulli – whether the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) has all knowledge of the unseen; mukhtar al-kul – whether the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) has complete right of disposition; hadhir wa nadhir – whether the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) is present and watching everything. []
  2. Mawlana Isma’il Badat Madani is a graduate of Mazahir al-‘Ulum, Saharanpur, and a khalifah of Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhalawi Madani. He is presently resident in Madinah al-Munawwarah. []
  3. The famous Barelwi scholar and debater, Muhammad ‘Umar Icharwi, wrote a book, Miqyas Nur, to prove that reality (haqiqah) of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was light (nur) while his outward was human (bashari). He writes on p.24, “This verse establishes that the reality (haqiqah) of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) was not human (bashari), rather his haqiqah was nuri …” He further writes on p.73, “It becomes evident from these hadiths that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) was a superior nur and the moon was a nur of a lesser degree. The superior nur split the lesser nur into pieces. This power of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) is contradictory [at odds] to haqiqah bashariyyah and thus proves that the haqiqah of the Messenger was not bashari but it was pure nur.” He writes on p.90, “Allah Most High described in this verse the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) as pure nur, which proves that he is in reality a nur and only has human attributes.” []
  4. Ahmad Rada Khan Barelwi writes, “It is without a doubt that the Almighty has given His Noble Beloved (Allah bless him and grant him peace) the complete knowledge of everything from the first till the last. From the east to the west, from the Throne till the earth, everything was shown to him. He was made witness to the Kingdom of the heavens and the earth. From the very first day till the last day all of the knowledge of what was and what shall be (ma kana wa ma yakun) has been shown to him. From all of the above, not even an iota is outside the knowledge of the Prophet. Great knowledge has been encompassed by the Noble Beloved (Allah bless him and grant him peace). It is not just of a summary type but what is small and big, every leaf that falls and every grain in the darkness of the earth are in their entirety known to him individually and in detail. Much praise to Allah. In fact, that which has been discussed is not, never, the complete knowledge of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace and send peace on his family and companions, all of them); but this is a small part of the Prophet’s knowledge …” (Anba al-Mustafa, p.486) []
  5. The hakim al-ummah of the Barelwis, Ahmad Yaar Khan Gujarati, writes, “In the world, the legal meaning of hadhir and nadhir is that a spiritually strong person sees the entire world in the way he sees the palm of his hand, and hears voices from both far and near, or travels the entire world in an instant and assists those with needs over thousands of miles.” (Ja’al-Haq, chapter: Hadhir wa Nadhir ki Bahth) []
  6. Amjad ‘Ali A’zimi, the deputy (khalifah) of Ahmad Rada Khan Barelwi, writes in Bahar-i-Shariah (p.1: 30-31), a book of fiqh for the general public, “Our Master, the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace), is the absolute deputy of Allah Most High. He has been given control (tassaruf) over the entire universe. He may do as he desires, give to whomsoever he wishes, take from anyone whatever he desires. None in the universe can deny his rulings. The entire universe is under his governance and he is under the authority of none except Allah. He is the owner (malik) of all humans. Anyone who does not accept him to be his owner (malik) remains devoid of the sweetness of the Sunnah. All the earth is his property. Paradise is his estate. The angels of earth and the sky are under his authority. The keys to paradise and hell have been given to him in his noble hand. Sustenance, goodness and other types of blessings are distributed from his noble office. This world and the hereafter is a portion of his blessings. The rulings of Shariah have been delegated to his authority. He may make impermissible (haram) for anyone whatever he decides. Similarly, he may make permissible (halal) whatever he wishes and exempt whatever obligation (fard) he desires.” []
  7. Kanz al-‘Ummal, part 1, hadith number 1102. []
  8. Imam Rabbani Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi and Shaykh al-Islam Mawlana Husayn Ahmad Madani (may Allah mercy them both). (Translator) []
  9. This is in reference to the first generation of the ‘ulama of Deoband. (Translator) []
  10. Both Mawlana Muhammad ‘Aaqil and Mawlana Muhammad Salman are khalifahs and sons-in-law of Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhalawi. []