The Slander against Hakim al-Ummah Hazrat Thanawi of Lessening the Station of the Master of the Prophets (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and its Reply
With regards to Hakim al-Ummah Hazrat Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali Sahib Thanawi (Allah have mercy on him), Mawlawi Ahmad Rida Khan Sahib Barelwi wrote on pages 20-1 of Husam al-Haramayn:
From the seniors of these Satanic Wahhabis is another man from the scions of Gangohi called Ashraf ‘Ali al-Thanawi. He compiled a small treatise that does not reach four pages and stated clearly therein that the equivalent of the Messenger of Allah’s (Allah bless him and grant him peace) knowledge of the unseen has been acquired by every child and every madman, rather every animal and every beast. These are his accursed words:
“If the assessment of the knowledge of unseen for the holy essence of the prophet is valid as said by Zayd, it will be asked: What did he intend by this – is it part of the unseen or all of it? If he intended part, what speciality is there in this for the Revered Messenger, for indeed the equivalent of this knowledge of unseen has been acquired by Zayd and ‘Amr, rather every child and madman, rather all animals and beasts; and if he intended all whereby no part is excluded, its invalidity is established by transmission and reason.”
I say: Look at the effects of the seal of Allah Almighty – how he equates [the knowledge of] the Messenger of Allah (Allah Almighty bless him and grant him peace) and [the knowledge of] such-and-such and such-and-such!
Here, I cannot give any answer to those ghastly and disgusting words which Khan Sahib used with respect to Hazrat Hakim al-Ummah. Its word-for-word retort can be given by those vulgar people who have also reached the status of “revivers” in the art of swearing. I am completely free of and helpless in this craft. The Wise Qur’an states: “Tell My servants that they should speak that which is best. Surely, Satan creates discord among them. Indeed, Satan is an open enemy to mankind.” (17:53) In another place, He addressed the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) himself: “Repel evil with that which is best.” (23:96) Thus, according to this Qur’anic imperative, in reply to these swears of Khan Sahib, I will only offer [this plea] to the Real Almighty: O My Lord! Khan Sahib has passed on from this world. Now save his successors from this evil practice which is a shame and humiliation in this world and deprivation and loss in the afterlife.
After this, I turn to the original discussion, and Allah guides to the path of rightness. It seems that when writing Husam al-Haramayn, Khan Sahib took an oath that he will not be truthful and honest in any act. Ponder: Where is the original passage of Hifz al-Iman and its real and true meaning, and where is the accursed content in Khan Sahib’s writing – that in the unseen matters the equal of that knowledge which is possessed by Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is possessed by every child and madman, nay every animal and every beast (Allah forbid!)? If before broadcasting his decision of disbelief, Khan Sahib quoted the entire text of Hifz al-Iman without mutilation, readers would have known the truth for themselves, and I would not have needed to lift my pen to give a response.
Hifz al-Iman is a short treatise by Hakim al-Ummah (may his blessings last) in which are three discussions. The third inquiry is: “Is calling the Prophet, the Joy of the World, Allah bless him and grant him peace, ‘knower of the ghayb’ correct or not?” It is clear that the discussion of Mawlana was not regarding whether or not the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) had knowledge of the ghayb, and if so, how much? Rather, here, Mawlana only wanted to establish that it cannot be said that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is “knower of the ghayb.” And between the two matters is a big difference. The reality that an attribute belongs to an essence does not entail that it is allowed to unqualifiedly use it for that person. In the Noble Qur’an, Allah is described as “the Creator of all things” (Qur’an 6:102, 13:16, 39:62, 40:62) and it is the belief of all Muslims that everything in the world, small or big, great or insignificant, were all created by Him. However, despite this, our jurists have clearly stated that it is impermissible to call him “the Creator of monkeys and swine.” Likewise, in the Noble Qur’an, “farming” is attributed to Him (Qur’an 56:64), yet it is incorrect to unqualifiedly use “farmer” for His essence. Similarly, the Arabs unqualifiedly use the term rizq (sustenance) for the provisions and positions the commander endowed to the men of his army; thus in many books of Arabic language the sentence “the commander sustained the army” is written, although it is incorrect to refer to the commander as raziq or razzaq (sustainer). And on the subject of the blessed qualities of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace), it is narrated from Hazrat ‘A’ishah Siddiqah (Allah be pleased with her): “He would mend his own shoes, and he would milk his camels himself.” Despite this, the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) cannot be referred to as a cobbler or milker. Anyhow, the reality that in some instances a particular attribute may be found in an essence, yet its unqualified usage for him is incorrect, is incontrovertible.
I hope that from this introduction my readers have understood that [the question of] the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) possessing knowledge of ghayb or not is a separate discussion from the issue of the permissibility or impermissibility of unqualifiedly using “knower of the ghayb” for his blessed essence; and there is no necessary correlation between the two. Once this matter has been settled in the mind, now understand that the objective of Hazrat Mawlana (Allah have mercy on him) in this place of Hifz al-Iman was only to establish that it is impermissible to unqualifiedly use “knower of the ghayb” for the holy essence of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace); and to prove that the way the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is remembered using such terms as “the Seal of the Prophets,” “the Chief of the Messengers,” “the Mercy to all Worlds” etc. etc., the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) cannot be remembered with the title “knower of the ghayb.” For [support of] this claim, Mawlana presented two proofs.
The upshot of the first evidence is that since in the general usages of the Shari‘ah “knower of the ghayb” is said for that being who knows the matters of the ghayb without medium and without being taught by another – and that is the exclusive distinction of the Real Almighty –if any other being is called “knower of the ghayb,” because of this general usage, the minds of people will shift in that direction, that he too possesses knowledge of ghayb without medium, which is an explicit belief of shirk. Thus, to refer to anyone as “knower of the ghayb” besides the Real (Glorious is His Majesty) without an indication by which is known that the intent of the speaker is not knowledge that is without means, is, therefore, incorrect as there is resemblance with a belief of shirk. This is why in the Qur’an and hadith such words were forbidden which will generate this kind of misunderstanding. For example, the Noble Qur’an prohibits addressing the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) with ra‘ina (2:104) and the noble hadith prohibits calling one’s servants “my slaves” because these words are suggestive of a false meaning even if not the intention of the speaker. This was a summary of Hazrat Mawlana Thanawi’s (Allah bless him and grant him peace) first evidence.
However, since Khan Sahib did not object to this proof of Mawlana – in fact, in many places of his book al-Dawlat al-Makkiyyah, Khan Sahib wrote approximately the same content in complete detail – there is no need for me to present any justification or support for it.
Now, I will turn my attention to the second evidence of Mawlana, and here that sentence is found about which Khan Sahib claimed, “He stated clearly therein that the equivalent of the Messenger of Allah’s (Allah bless him and grant him peace) knowledge of the unseen has been acquired by every child and every madman, rather every animal and every beast.”
But before quoting the original passage of Hifz al-Iman, in order to facilitate the understanding of the readers, I feel it will be appropriate to mention that in this second proof, Mawlana divided the matter into two options [for the opponent] whereupon he proved the inaccuracy and falsity of both.
The upshot of the second proof of Mawlana is that a person, for example Zayd, who unqualifiedly uses “knower of the ghayb” for the holy essence of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace), and refers to him as “knower of the ghayb,” says this either because according to him the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) has knowledge of some ghayb or because he has knowledge of full ghayb. The second alternative is false because the absence of the knowledge of full ghayb from the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is proven by rational and transmitted proofs, and Mawlawi Ahmad Rida Khan Sahib himself says this. And the first alternative, meaning, referring to the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) as “knower of the ghayb” because of some ghayb, is false because in this scenario it would entail that every person, rather even animals, can be called “knower of the ghayb” because some matters of the ghayb are possessed by all, as every animate being must have some knowledge which is hidden from another. Thus, based on this alternative, since it entails calling everyone “knower of the ghayb” and this is rationally, scripturally and customarily, that is, in every way, false, that which necessitates it, meaning, Zayd referring to the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) as “knower of the ghayb” because of some knowledge of the ghayb, will also be false. This is a summary of Mawlana’s entire argument. Now, I will present the original passage of Hifz al-Iman with clarification [in parenthesis].
The Passage of Hifz al-Iman and its Clarification
After completing the write-up of the first evidence, Mawlana writes:
If according to the statement of Zayd, it is valid to apply the ruling of the knowledge of ghayb to his holy essence (meaning, calling the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) “knower of the ghayb” and unqualifiedly using “knower of the ghayb” for his holy essence), then he (i.e. this Zayd) will be asked: “From this ruling, is the ‘ghayb’ (meaning, the ghayb which occurs in the title “knower of the ghayb” because of which he refers to the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) as “knower of the ghayb”) intended as some ghayb or full ghayb?”
(Here Hazrat Mawlana asked this person who called the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) “knower of the ghayb” and believed it to be permissible, whose hypothetical name is Zayd, that based on what consideration do you refer to the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) as “knower of the ghayb”? Is it because the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) has some knowledge of ghayb? Or is it because he has full knowledge of ghayb?)
If some knowledge of ghayb is intended (meaning, because of some knowledge of ghayb, you called the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) “knower of the ghayb”, and your principle is that whoever has some knowledge of ghayb you refer to him as “knower of the ghayb”), what distinction is there in this (meaning, in mere knowledge of some ghayb because of which someone is referred to as “knower of the ghayb”) for the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace)? Such (partial) knowledge of the ghayb (because of which you believe it is necessary to call someone “knower of the ghayb,” meaning, generally some knowledge of the unseen) is available to Zayd and ‘Amr, rather every child and madman, rather even all animals and quadrupeds; because every person has knowledge of such and such a matter which is hidden from a second person; then all should be called “knower of the ghayb” (based on your principle that because of mere knowledge of some ghayb, a person may be called “knower of the ghayb”).
An Explanation of the Distortion of Khan Sahib Barelwi
of the Passage of Hifz al-Iman
This was the original passage of Hazrat Mawlana, and this was its clear and explicit intent which I have presented. However, Khan Sahib, in his commentary, gave it such a meaning that even Satan after listening to it will seek refuge. In this respect, a brief description of the distortion that Khan Sahib did is as follows:
1. The word eysa (such) appears in the passage of Hifz al-Iman, and its intent is some knowledge of ghayb in an absolute sense, not the blessed knowledge of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace). However, Khan Sahib took its intent as the blessed knowledge of the Prophet, the Joy of the World (Allah bless him and grant him peace), and wrote: “He stated clearly therein that the equivalent of the Messenger of Allah’s (Allah bless him and grant him peace) knowledge of the unseen has been acquired by every child and every madman, rather every animal and every beast.”
2. The original passage of Hifz al-Iman was as follows: “Such knowledge of the ghayb is available to Zayd and ‘Amr, rather every child and madman, rather even all animals and quadrupeds; because every person has knowledge of such and such a matter which is hidden from a second person.” Khan Sahib totally omitted this underlined sentence in the middle of his quote because it is clearly understood from it that the knowledge that is conceded for Zayd, ‘Amr etc. is some knowledge of ghayb in an absolute sense, not (Allah forbid!) the blessed knowledge of the Messenger of the Lord (Allah bless him and grant him peace).
3. After the abovementioned passage of Hifz al-Iman, the conclusion of the ilzami argument33 is worded as: “then all should be called ‘knower of the ghayb’.” Khan Sahib also omitted this, because from this sentence it is completely clear that the discussion of the author of Hifz al-Iman was not about the extent of the knowledge of the Prophet, the Joy of the World (Allah bless him and grant him peace). Rather, his discussion was only about the unqualified usage of “knower of the ghayb.” After having realised this, the reality of the entire scheme of Khan Sahib is laid bare.
Anyhow, in order to declare the author of Hifz al-Iman a disbeliever, Khan Sahib committed this deception, and those sentences from which the meaning of the passage of Hifz al-Iman can easily be understood was completely omitted in the middle, and he only quoted the first and last part of the passage. Shrewdly, in the Arabic translation of the passage of Hifz al-Iman which he presented before the scholars of the two Harams, he gave no indication from which those revered scholars could have understood that in the middle of this passage some sentences were missing. Our readers can see this handiwork in the Arabic passage of Khan Sahib’s Husam al-Haramayn, which I quoted from Husam al-Haramayn at the beginning of this discussion with its exact wording.
More Explanation of the Passage from Hifz al-Iman
Although the dishonesty of Khan Sahib and the condition of his fatwa will be understood by the readers from this explanation, to explain further, I wish to shed more light on its particular parts.
The upshot of the second evidence of Hazrat Hakim al-Ummah (his shadow extend) was this:
There are two scenarios in which the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) can be called “knower of the ghayb.” One is that, because of full ghayb, he is called “knower of the ghayb.” The second is that, because of some ghayb, [he is called so]. The first option is false because the absence of his knowledge of all ghayb is established by transmitted and rational proofs. And the second option is false because some knowledge of ghayb is possessed even by insignificant things in this world; so based on this principle, everyone should be called “knower of the ghayb” which is baseless in every way.
If the parts of this proof are broken down, it will be realised that its basic premises are as follows:
1. So long as a principle does not subsist in a certain being, its morphological derivative [for example, the active participle] cannot be unqualifiedly used for it. For example, a person can be called “knower” when the attribute of knowledge is found in his essence; and that person is called “ascetic” in whom the attribute of asceticism subsists; and that person is called “writer” who has attained the quality of writing; and other such examples.
2. With the cause, its effect must be found. It is not possible that the cause is found but the effect is not.
3. The Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) did not acquire knowledge of all ghayb.
4. Generally some awareness of the unseen is available to non-prophets, rather nonhumans.
5. Every Zayd and ‘Amr cannot be called “knower of the ghayb.”
6. The falsity of the consequence (lazim) necessitates the falsity of that which it is consequential upon (malzum), meaning, if the acceptance of something necessarily leads to an absurdity, it is itself absurd.
From these premises, the first two and the last two are rationally accepted principles, and clearly intuitive, which no sane person in the world will dispute. This is why right away I will establish the third and fourth premises from the clear statements of Khan Sahib.
The accuser is a thousand times weightier than your witness
Proof of the most Important Premises of Hifz al-Iman from the
Statements of Khan Sahib himself
The third premise of Hazrat Mawlana Thanawi was that the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) did not acquire full knowledge of the ghayb. Take note of its proofs from the statements of the Barelwi learned man:
The aforementioned learned man wrote on page 25 of al-Dawlat al-Makkiyyah:
For indeed we do not claim that he (Allah bless him and grant him peace) had encompassed all the things known to Allah (Glorified and Exalted is He), for indeed it is impossible for creation.
And in the same al-Dawlat al-Makkiyyah, he writes:
And we do not affirm through the bestowal of Allah Almighty also but a part. (al-Dawlat al-Makkiyyah, p 28)
And this Khan Sahib writes on page 34 of Tamhid e Iman:
Even the knowledge of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) does not encompass all things known to the Divine.
Furthermore, on page 34 of this Tamhid is written:
And encompassing knowledge of all things known to the Divine is also false and against most scholars.
The import, nay the objective, of all these passages of Khan Sahib is that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) did not acquire knowledge of all ghayb. Rather, acquisition of detailed knowledge of all the unseen is impossible for him, nay for all creatures, and believing in this is false and against most scholars. And this is precisely the third premise in Mawlana Thanawi’s evidence. With praise to Allah, from the explicit statements of Khan Sahib, this has become clear as daylight. So all praise is due to Allah.
The fourth premise of the evidence of Mawlana Thanawi under inspection was that generally awareness of some unseen matters is realised by non-prophets, rather non-humans too.
Take note of its proof from the statements of Khan Sahib Barelwi also:
The aforementioned learned man wrote on page 13 of al-Dawlat al-Makkiyyah:
Indeed we believe in the Resurrection, and in the Garden and the Fire, and in Allah Almighty and the seven fundamentals of His (Exalted and Majestic is He) attributes, and all of this is ghayb. And we know each in its own right, distinguished from other than it, so this necessitates the acquisition of general detailed knowledge of the unseen for every believer.
Moreover, this Khan Sahib says on page 24 of Khalis al-I‘tiqad:
Allah Almighty said about the Muslims, “they believe in the unseen” (Qur’an 2:3). Belief is consent, and consent is knowledge. The thing which is fundamentally unknowable, how is its belief possible? Indeed [it says] in al-Tafsir al-Kabir: “There is no obstacle in saying, ‘We know of the ghayb that for which we have evidence.’”
It is known from these two passages of Khan Sahib that some knowledge of the ghayb is necessary for every believer.
The aforementioned [Khan Sahib] said regarding a prophecy of his father:
This was a prophecy made forty years ago. Allah Almighty grants His accepted slaves knowledge of ghayb because they are the bearers of the shoes of the slaves of the slaves of the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace). (Malfuzat A‘la Hazrat)
In proving that in and of itself, unveiling (kashf) is nothing of perfection, rather may happen to non-Muslims, nay nonhumans too, Khan Sahib quoted an elder of his who he explicitly called a “friend of Allah” the story of a strange and wonderful donkey who had the ability of unveiling:
I was going to Egypt. There, there was a great gathering. I saw a man with a donkey whose eyes were tied with a stone. One person’s belonging would be placed in the possession of another person. Then the donkey would be asked [about its location], and the donkey would circle the entire gathering, until it reached the person who had it, and in front of him he would bow. (Malfuzat, Part 4, p. 11)
After this, Khan Sahib said:
Thus, it is understood that the attribute which is possible for a nonhuman, it is not a perfection for a human being. (Part 4, p. 11)
It is known from this statement of Khan Sahib that according to him, this donkey also knew some hidden things. And this is the objective.
I have quoted one passage from Khan Sahib’s al-Dawlat al-Makkiyyah in which is clearly stated that Allah Almighty, His attributes, the Garden and the Fire, the Angels etc. etc. are all matters of the ghayb, and this is completely correct.
Based on this, even though the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) in his essence is not ghayb, his messengership is no doubt a matter of the ghayb, because it is not a tangible and physical thing, rather there is a hidden connection between Allah and the Messenger which is beyond the comprehension of our sense faculties, and based only on the integrity of the Messenger, he is accepted [as the Messenger of Allah]. Thus, whoever acquires knowledge of the existence of Allah Almighty, His oneness or the messengership of the Messenger, he has acquired some knowledge of the unseen; and Khan Sahib concedes that everything in existence, even the leaves of trees and sands of the desert, is accountable for believing in Divine oneness and the messengership. They glorify the Lord and testify to the prophethood and messengership of the Messenger of the Lord (Allah bless him and grant him peace).
For example, on Part 4, page 77, of Khan Sahib’s Malfuzat, he writes:
Everything is accountable for believing in the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and for glorifying the Lord.
Moreover, on page 78 of it is written:
A particular spirituality is connected to every plant and every inanimate object, whether that is called a “soul” or something else; and that thing is accountable for faith and glorification. It says in a hadith: “There is nothing but it knows that I am the Messenger of Allah, except the rebellious of the jinn and man.”
The following matters are established from these statements of Khan Sahib:
1. Every believer must know some matters of the ghayb
2. Even non-Muslims experience unveiling
3. Even a stupid animal like a donkey has knowledge of some hidden matters
4. All things in existence, even plants and inanimate objects, know some things of ghayb
And this was the fourth premise in the proof of Mawlana Thanawi.
The result is that those premises on which Mawlana’s proof were based, four are accepted principles of reason and are completely intuitive, and two were dependent on proofs, which I have, with praise to Allah, proven from the clear expressions of Khan Sahib. Thus, our readers know that the proof on which Khan Sahib attached the ruling of disbelief on Hazrat Mawlana in all its parts are accepted by Khan Sahib, and if it necessitated disbelief, then Khan Sahib has an equal share in that disbelief.
Whatever you say, I will sacrifice myself for you and follow you
Although there is no need to present anything else regarding the passage of Hifz al-Iman, but for further clarification, I will finally present an illustration of the passage of Hifz al-Iman.
An Illustration of the Passage from Hifz al-Iman
Suppose that some disciple or devotee of Khan Sahib refers to the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) as “knower of the ghayb” and believes it to be permissible. To him I ask: “Do you refer to the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) as ‘knower of the ghayb’ because of full ghayb or some ghayb? If full ghayb, then that is, according to the speech of Mawlawi Ahmad Rida Khan Sahib, absurd rationally, and false scripturally, rather, impossible. And if you refer to the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) as ‘knower of the ghayb’ because of some ghayb, and it is your principle that whoever has knowledge of some ghayb, you will call him ‘knower of the ghayb,’ then the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) has no distinction in this because some matters of ghayb are possessed by every believer, rather all of humanity, rather all things, even animals and inanimate objects, so based on your principle it is necessary that you call everything in the world ‘knower of the ghayb.’ Now, if you say that you call everything ‘knower of the ghayb,’ in that case, what praise will emerge from calling the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) ‘knower of the ghayb’ as in your view everyone is called ‘knower of the ghayb’?”
Respected readers, note: Will any sane person understand the meaning of my speech as (Allah forbid!) I made the knowledge of everything in the world equal to the knowledge of the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace)?
Take note of another more general illustration:
Suppose that the king of a country is extremely generous. Here he operates a public kitchen, and he feeds thousands of needy and poor people in the morning and evening. Now, some idiot, for example Zayd, calls that king raziq (sustainer). A second person, say ‘Amr, asks him: “Brother, why do you refer to the king as raziq? Is it because he gives sustenance to all creation? Or is it because he feeds some people? The first is obviously false, so only the second option remains, which is that the king is called raziq because he feeds some people. In this, there is no distinction for him because even a poor man and an unimportant labourer at least fills the bellies of their children, and people being people they will certainly have concern for their children but even small birds feed their chicks, so according to this principle of yours, everyone will be called raziq…”
It should be asked, did ‘Amr mean by this statement that the generous and beneficent king and every poor and unimportant labourer are equal in their generosity? It is obvious that this understanding is [a manifestation of] the idiocy of the one who understood it. Thus, whatever was said in Hifz al-Iman is nothing more than this.
After this, I will present one passage from Sharh al-Mawaqif of the accepted [scholar] of Ahl al-Sunna, Imam ‘Allamah Sayyid Sharif (Allah have mercy on him), which has complete resemblance with the passage of Hifz al-Iman, so that after reading this no Sunni Muslim will dare to open his mouth against Hifz al-Iman, because whatever is in Hifz al-Iman, is approximately a translation of this passage from Sharh al-Mawaqif. The ‘Allamah wrote [underlined is the original text of al-Iji and the remainder is from the commentary, Sharh al-Mawaqif]:
As for the philosophers, they say: He i.e. the prophet is the one in whom three special features combine, by which he is distinguished from others. The first of them, i.e. the first of the matters that are specific to him, is that he is cognizant of the ghayb, the present, the past and the future.
After this, in a few lines, he proves on behalf of the philosophers that this matter is not farfetched for the prophets (upon them peace). Then he says on behalf of the philosophers:
And why would this cognizance [of the ghayb] in respect to the prophet be considered farfetched, when that is found in those you say his preoccupations are exercise with [various] types of [spiritual] struggles, or illness, averting the soul from preoccupation with the body and using sensory organs, or sleep, disconnecting thereby his external senses; since these [individuals] are cognizant of the ghayb and give information about it as attested to by transmission and experience whereby no doubt about it remains for those who are just?
This was a description of the position of the philosophers and their proofs. After this, the author (Allah have mercy on him) gives an answer on behalf of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama‘ah, and says:
We say: What you mentioned is rejected for [various] reasons: because cognizance of all ghayb is not necessary for the prophet by agreement between us and you, and for this [reason] the Chief of the Prophets said, “Had I knowledge of the ghayb, I should have abundance of wealth, and adversity would not touch me” (Qur’an 7:188); and a part, i.e. cognizance of part [of the ghayb], is not specific to him, i.e. to the prophet, as you have agreed, since you allowed it for the exercisers, the ill and the sleepers, so the prophet is not distinguished thereby from others.
Fair readers should take note, what is the difference between this passage of Sharh al-Mawaqif and the passage of Hifz al-Iman under inquiry?
I hope that after this explanation of the passage from Hifz al-Iman, no doubt of the opponents remains. To complete the proof for this, I will briefly quote the answer which Hazrat Mawlana Thanawi wrote in his reply to this slander.
When this fatwa, Husam al-Haramayn, of Mawlawi Ahad Rida Khan Sahib was published, and it caused a great stir, the respected Mawlana Sayyid Murtaza Hasan Sahib wrote a letter to Mawlana Thanawi:
Mawlawi Ahmad Rida Khan Sahib Barelwi wrote with respect to you that you (Allah forbid!) stated explicitly in Hifz al-Iman that the equivalent of the knowledge the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) possesses from the matters of the ghayb is possessed by every child and every madman and every animal. Did you write this anywhere in Hifz al-Iman, and is this your belief? And if this is not your belief, what is your position towards someone who holds this revolting belief? (Summarised from Bast al-Banan)
Hazrat Mawlana Thanawi gave the answer:
I did not write this revolting content in any book. Let alone writing it, this thought never crossed my heart. Nor is it the necessary conclusion of any passage of mine, as I will explain later. Since I understand this content to be revolting…how can it be my intent? That person who believes this, or without belief utters it explicitly or implicitly, I believe this person to be outside the fold of Islam because he has denied decisive texts and lessened the Revered Joy and Pride of the World, the Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him peace.
After this, in that book, which has been published in this time under the name Bast al-Banan, Hazrat Mawlana (may his shadow be lengthened) gave a detailed reply to this accusation of Khan Sahib and explained the meaning of the passage from Hifz al-Iman under discussion. However, now there is no need to quote it because all that I wrote to explain this passage above is in effect an elaboration of this answer of Hazrat Mawlana.
Respected readers carefully note how far the Barelwi learned man was from truth and integrity in this fatwa.
And Allah is the One Who guides to the path of rightness.
1. Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali al-Thanawi (d. 1943) was alive at the time of writing this piece and when it was first published in 1933 CE.
2. In its original Arabic usage ra’ina means, “Observe us,” but with a slightly different pronunciation it can be construed as an insult which some of the Jews exploited by “twisting their tongues” (Qur’an 4:46) to outwardly express the commonly understood meaning while intending insult and degradation. Consequently, the believers were forbidden from using it.
3. Meaning, an argument in the form of presenting an absurdity as the necessary consequence of an opponent’s claim in order to refute the claim itself.
The Author of Hifz al-Iman’s Search for Truth and Noble Declaration of Rewording the Passage from Hifz al-Iman
Respected readers! The debate-style reply to the fatwa of disbelief which Mawlawi Ahmad Rida Khan Sahib issued in Husam al-Haramayn by attributing a heretical content to Hifz al-Iman has finished, and the readers are aware that its reality is nothing besides slander and fabrication, and the author of Hifz al-Iman is completely innocent of this impure and heretical belief.
After this, knowing this will, if Allah wills, make you even more content, that when a sincere person drew the attention of Hazrat Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali Sahib Thanawi (Allah have mercy on him) by saying that “although the passage of Hifz al-Iman in reality is completely sound and free of doubt, if the words with which the ungodly and obstinate people deceive the fickle simpleminded commoners were changed in such-and-such a way, these commoners who are susceptible to fitnah would not succumb to the deception, so for the sake of the fickle laypeople this would be best,” Hazrat prayed for the one who gave him this advice and wholeheartedly accepted the advice and changed the passage in the following way:
In the old passage, the sentence which began as “such knowledge of the ghayb” was substituted for the sentence: “mere knowledge of some unseen matters has been attained by non-prophets.” This incident occurred in Safar of 1342 H (September 1923 CE). Thus, approximately 32 years ago this revision had taken place in the passage of Hifz al-Iman. After this, Hifz al-Iman has continued to be printed with this revision. Rather, the entire circumstance behind this revision and its announcement on behalf of the revered author (Allah have mercy on him) was printed as an addendum to Hifz al-Iman called Taghyir al-‘Unwan.
Then after this, in Jumada al-Ukhra of 1354 H, it happened that because of the advice of a certain individual, the worthless writer of these lines (Muhammad Manzur Nu‘mani) himself proposed in the presence of Hazrat Hakim al-Ummah (Allah have mercy on him), that the intent of the words “apply the ruling of the knowledge of ghayb” at the very beginning of the passage from Hifz al-Iman which the obstinate ones object to, is, without doubt, the unqualified usage of “knower of the ghayb,” which is obvious from the preceding and succeeding parts of this passage, and in Bast al-Banan and Taghyir al-‘Unwan, Hazrat stated explicitly this; so if in the original passage “ruling” is changed to “unqualified usage” the matter will become even more clear and will leave no room for doubt. Hazrat, without contemplation, accepted this and changed the sentence as follows: “Furthermore, if unqualifiedly using ‘knower of the ghayb’ for the holy essence is sound according to the statement of Zayd…” And he instructed this worthless one to announce this revision on his behalf. Thus, on Rajab of 1354 H, in [the journal] al-Furqan, at that time, this announcement was made.
Anyhow, after those two revisions, the passage of Hifz al-Iman reads as follows:
Furthermore, if unqualifiedly using “knower of the ghayb” for the holy essence is sound according to the statement of Zayd, he will be asked about this matter, that, is the intent of this ghayb some ghayb or all ghayb? If some unseen sciences is intended, what distinction is there for the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) in this? Mere knowledge of some unseen matters has been attained by non-prophets, so everyone should be called “knower of the ghayb.”
The result is that our elders declared their innocence and detest for the heretical beliefs which Mawlawi Ahmad Rida Khan Sahib upon attributing to them with outright tenacity declared them disbelievers; and along with this, they explained the true and real meaning of those passages besides which those passages can have no other meaning; and they also proved that there is nothing in them that is against the teachings and beliefs of the Ahl al-Sunnah; and after all this, when in order to protect a fickle simpleminded layman from misunderstanding, if any slave of Allah sincerely advised them to change it, then without deliberation and without any ill feeling, they accepted [the advice] and changed the passage. No doubt this is clear evidence of their sincere truth-seeking and selflessness. How unfortunate! – how unjust and wretched are those people who call these slaves of Allah disbelievers!
Muhammad Manzur Nu‘mani (Allah pardon him)
21, Dhu al-Hijjah, 1373 Hijri