Translated by Hamood Aleem (Translator’s note: The nuzul (descent) of Sayyiduna ‘Isa / Jesus (peace be upon…
A translation of an excerpt from Mawlana Khalil Ahmad’s landmark Al-Barahin al-Qati‘ah ‘ala Dhalam al-Anwar al-Sati‘ah (The Decisive Proofs on the Darkness of Al-Anwar al-Sati‘ah), which was written in 1887 in response to another polemical work, Mawlana ‘Abd al-Sami‘ Rampuri’s ((Also a khalifah of Haji Imdad Allah Muhajir Makki (translator). )) Anwar al-Sati‘ah Dur Bayan Mawlud Wa Fatiha. Anwar al-Sati‘ah was written in 1886 in refutation of Imam Rabbani Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi’s position on customary practices and bid‘ah.
Making an analogy of the master of graves, meaning the grave of the master of the inhabitants of graves – Allah bless him and grant him peace as long as the eastern and western winds alternate –, with other graves, is an invalid analogy. It is clearly stated in hadiths that his burial is commanded in the place of death, and [his] place of death was a house that comprised of walls and a roof. It is inferred from this that there is permission for the construction of walls and a roof over his grave. The prohibition which has been transmitted on building over graves is when the structure is for the grave, and here this is not so.
What remains is [the question of] its persistence and conservation. Since after the burial, none of the rightly-guided caliphs condemned the persistence of this structure, rather, on one occasion when there was an extreme need to seek rain only a hole was made in the roof, the legality of the persistence of this building is inferred. It is obvious that the persistence of these things without giving special attention to [their] conservation is not normally possible. Hence, the requirement of giving special attention to its conversation has also been established. And since strengthening the building is more effective for [the purpose of its] conservation, this being an objective [of the Shari‘ah] is also established.
The definition of the shirk on which damnation and eternality in Hellfire is consequential upon is what is found in Hashiyat al-Khayali, quoting from Sharh al-Maqasid: “If the disbeliever (kafir) feigns faith he is a hypocrite (munafiq), and if his disbelief occurred after faith he is an apostate (murtadd), and if he believes in a partner in divinity (sharik fi l-uluhiyyah), he is a polytheist (mushrik).” (p. 124)
Thus, it should now be understood that there is a distinction between the Arabian polytheists who would worship idols and between the grave-worshipping Muslims who prostrate themselves before graves and mock tombs (ta‘ziyah). The Arabian polytheists would regard them as partners in divinity and would declare with their tongues that they are partners of Allah. This is proven by His (Exalted is He) statement: “They have assigned a portion for Allah from the tillage and the cattle created by Him, and then said, ‘This is for Allah,’ so they claim, ‘And this is for our associate-gods (shuraka’),’” (6:136) and His (Exalted is He) statement: “They have appointed the Jinn as partners with Allah,” (6:100) and His (Exalted is He) statement: “And you set up rivals with Him,” (41:9) and other such verses. Although those people would make favourable interpretations of this, nevertheless, they were estranged from the declaration of Tawhid, and would say: “Has he made the gods into One God? This is a very strange thing indeed!” (Qur’an 38:4) And while performing Tawaf, they would say: “We are here! You have no partner except a partner that You possess. You own him and all that he owns.”
The difference between tasarruf and karamah is that tasarruf comes about by the usage of natural means, like the imaginative or contemplative faculties, and it is from the commonly acquired skills. Acceptance from Allah Almighty and even being Muslim have no bearing on it, since many disbelievers like the Brahmans of India and the atheists of Europe called “Mesmerists” today perform it.
Yes, since the basis of this faculty is the collectiveness of the mind and the unity of thought, it often occurs to some of those engaged in the remembrance of Allah Almighty who shun the world and what is in it, for they are at a high degree of collectiveness of mind and unity of thought. Its performance has been reported from some of them on some occasions, although the gnostics from them would scorn this and consider it a deficiency of complete servitude. This is why tasarruf has not been reported from the Prophets (upon them peace) at all.
Know, firstly, that those who have become obsessed in this matter with figurative interpretation or denial, it is only the affirmation of knowledge of ghayb for the Chief of the Prophets and Messengers, the collector of the sciences of the earlier and later peoples, our master and our Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace), that drives them to this, due to their belief that its negation from him (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is a blemish within the sanctity of his prophethood and messengership, or a reduction in his rank. Hence, they got into [the dilemma] which they got into without determining the meaning of the ghayb that is exclusive to His (Exalted is He) essence, which is negated from him (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and the rest of creation; and they began to derive proof for their conclusion from all that is transmitted about his knowledge or his (Allah bless him and grant him peace) reports about the unknown, yet they do not know that what is established by these proofs is not negated from him (Allah bless him and grant him peace) in the Shari‘ah according to any of the Muslims, and what is negated from him is not established by these verses.
I say: The hadiths of the chapter explicitly prove the impermissibility of prostrating to other than Allah, and they prove that it has been specified for the Everlasting God and it is not suitable for a mortal, whether a prophet or a saint, whether living or dead. The distinction between [the prostrations of] worship (ta‘abbud), reverence (ta‘zim) and greeting (tahiyyah) is a baseless distinction invented by extremists, because Mu‘adh did not prostrate to the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) due to his belief regarding him that he is divine, rather because he is a Prophet and Messenger, and despite this the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) did not make a concession for him in this, rather he told him that prostration is an act of reverence (ta‘zim) that is exclusive to Allah, and is not suitable for a mortal. Likewise, if the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) were to instruct a woman to prostrate to her husband, he would not give this instruction because he is a god, but because he is deserving of reverence, and despite this, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) did not make a concession therein, and he explained that this act of reverence has been specified for Allah Almighty. Hence, since prostration is an act of reverence specified for Allah Almighty, whoever establishes it for other than Him, he has made him a partner with Allah in this act of reverence specified for Him, so he becomes a polytheist (mushrik).
Companions of the A’raf [a boundary between Hell and Paradise] are of various types. Some of them are as follows:  People whom the message of Islam did not reach in the first place, such as residents of mountain tops who have not associated anyone with their Lord nor rejected [His existence] but they have also not believed in Him. They are like animals which do not turn to God, neither in negation nor confirmation. They pay attention to the things of their interest only.
Or it is such that they received the message of Islam but they did not derive benefit from it on account of their ignorance, such as those people who did not understood the language of Islam nor did they grasp its argument.
Or they were brought up heedless towards such deep thinking. The extent of their knowledge was that Muslims are people whose turbans are of a particular type and whose shirts are of a particular sort and who eat certain things and hold certain others as forbidden.
Question: Do you believe that the knowledge of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is equal to the knowledge of Zayd, Bakr and beasts or are you innocent of such [a belief]? Did Shaykh Ashraf ‘Ali al-Thanawi write such content in his treatise Hifz al-Iman or not? How do you judge one who believes this?
Answer: I say: this too is from the inventions and lies of the innovators. They distorted the meaning of the statement and, in their hatred, they produced the opposite of what the shaykh (Allah lengthen his shadow) intended (Allah confound them! How they are perverted!).
Shaykh ‘Allamah al-Thanawi in his treatise called Hifz al-Iman, which is a small treatise in which he answered three questions he was asked: the first is in regards to the prostration of respect (al-sajdat al-ta’zimiyyah) to graves, the second is in regards to circumambulation (tawaf) around graves and the third is in regards to the unqualified usage of the term ‘alim al-ghayb (Knower of the Unseen) for our master, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace).
Shirk is to affirm the special attributes of Allah (Exalted is He) for [those] besides Him, like:
(1) affirming absolute disposal (al-tasarruf al-mutlaq) in the cosmos (kawn) by an absolute will (al-iradah al-mutlaqah), which is expressed as “kun fayakun” (Be! And it is); (2) or affirming intrinsic knowledge (al-‘ilm al-dhati) which has not been obtained through acquisition (iktisab) by means of the senses, rational proof, dreams (manam), inspiration (ilham) and their likes from [both] material and spiritual means; (3) or affirming [the act of] existentialising (ijad) the healing of a sick person; (4) or affirming a curse on an individual or displeasure upon him such that the object of this curse becomes penniless, sick or wretched; or [affirming] mercy and satisfaction with an individual, such that he becomes by means of this mercy and pleasure, rich, healthy, fit and happy.
These [pre-Islamic] mushrikun did not recognise a partner (sharik) besides Allah (Exalted is He) in the creation of substances (jawahir), i.e. the foundations of matter, and administration of cosmic affairs. They recognised that none had the power, when Allah (Exalted is He) had established and decreed a thing, to impede or stop Him.
What does the shaykh, may Allah protect him, say regarding the Barelwi group, as this group is not found in our lands and I have not found a book in Arabic on them except a book by one of the ‘ulama of Najd. I found him unjust with those who are not Barelwi and so I have not relied on his judgment and what he has quoted. Hence, it is hoped their situation is explained, for people are among those who are in extreme love or extreme hatred. Allah is the one who guides to what is correct.
Know that when Allah (Glorified and Exalted is He) intended to manifest the attribute of His grace (in’am) and vengeance (intiqam), He created the creation and put it into categories. Thus, he created the fountains of faith and guidance from a species other than man, and they are the Angels, and from the species of man, and they are the Prophets and Messengers (Allah’s blessings and His peace be on them all); and He created the mines of disbelief and deviance from a species other than man, and they are the devils, and from the species of man, and they are the lying imposters (al-dajjalun al-kadhdhabun) (the curse of Allah be upon them). Hence, the former are the masters of the felicitous, living in the abode of His bounty and grace, and the loci of the manifestation of His mercy and pleasure (Glorified and High is He); and the latter are the heads of the miserable, falling into the locus of His punishment and anger, and are the loci of the manifestation of His vengeance and wrath.
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.
The most basic principle of piety and the mainstay of its various aspects is the doctrine of the Unity of God. This is because humility before Lord of the worlds, which is the greatest of the virtues in acquiring ultimate felicity, depends on this. This is the basis of intellectual regulation of [acquiring virtue] which is the more useful of the two regulations. Through this man is able to help himself address completely to learning from the Unseen, and prepare his soul to become connected to it through becoming sanctified. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) has informed us of its importance and its being one of the types of piety that is comparable to the human heart, which when it is sound, everything is sound, and when it is corrupted, all is corrupt. He also indicated its importance when he used the phrase about a man who died without associating anything else with God, “he entered Paradise,” or that “God prevented him from going to Hell,” or that “he was not veiled from Paradise,” and other expressions of this sort. He reported from his Blessed and Exalted Lord, “Whoever meets Me [on the day of Judgment] with enough sins to fill the earth, but not associating another thing with God, I shall meet him with one [an earth] like it full of forgiveness.”
When stating the necessary fundamentals of Islamic belief, scholars of the ummah usually mention a few examples in their books. A misunderstanding that occurs in the minds of some readers is that they think the necessary fundamentals are limited to just these examples and there is nothing more. This is even though the intent of those scholars is to merely present a few examples, not to shorten, restrict or limit [the necessary fundamentals]. To remove this misunderstanding, we have compiled [a list of] some of the fundamentals of religion in one place which can be obtained by cursory effort. From this concise list it will become self-evident that the purpose [of the scholars] was to show examples. The purpose was not to compile a complete list.
In regard to making things halal (permitted) and haram (prohibited), it is the well-established belief of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa ‘l-Jama’ah that Allah alone has authority over it. To make something halal or haram is exclusively the work of Allah Most High and He is unique in this. This is purely His right; no one else is involved in this process in any manner. Neither does anyone have this power in essence nor has Allah relegated this power to anyone.
The article below was published in Roshni, a religious supplement published each Friday with the Saudi-based Urdu News newspaper, in clarification of a column published a few weeks earlier, discussing a story about a man who was told on his death bed that he had been forgiven due to his devotion to sending Blessings and Peace (Salat wa Salam) to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) each morning.
“He (Allah Most High) then firmly established (istawa) Himself over the Throne” (Qur’an 7:54) means He firmly established Himself over the Kingly Throne and began decreeing orders (ahkams) in the heavens and the earth. In the tafsir (exegesis) of [the verse] “He then firmly established Himself over the Throne”, it is safer to adopt silence in agreement with the methodology of the salaf (pious predecessors) and that is also my view although the muta’akhirin (scholars of the later generations) have opened the doors for ta’wil (interpretation).