INTRODUCTION

INTRODUCTION: SECTION ONE

One who even takes a cursory look at the Mighty Qur’an, he will not be unaware of the reality that just as degrading the station of and opposing the accepted ones in the Divine Court (the prophets – upon them peace – or the saints) is a cause for wretchedness and destruction, in the same way, extremism and excess with respect to these revered personalities, meaning, elevating them above their basic position and making them partners in the Divine attributes and affirming such qualities and perfections for them which were in reality not bestowed upon them is also misguidance and error.

Although Jews were deserving of curse because they insulted the pure station of one of the mighty messengers of Allah (the Messiah – upon him peace) and his glorious truthful mother Maryam and accused of her of a filthy slander, the Christians were despised only because they elevated this messenger of Allah from his real position and made him the Lord Himself or a partner of the Lord because of which the Wise Qur’an made them culpable of the crime of disbelief: “They indeed have disbelieved who say: Verily, Allah is the Messiah, son of Maryam.” (5:17), “They surely disbelieve who say: Verily, Allah is the third of three; when there is no deity save the One God. If they desist not from so saying a painful doom will fall on those of them who disbelieve.” (5:73)

Thus, the understanding of the champions of misguidance was that to affirm every belief with respect to the accepted ones in the Divine Court which elevates their status is correct even if there is no scriptural proof for it, and to the extent that his status is elevated, to that extent we will attain his and his Lord’s pleasure. This understanding is outright ignorance and misguidance.

The believer’s behaviour with respect to those who are close to the Divine Court should be extremely careful and held with moderation, as neglect and excess with respect to them are both causes of destruction.

[poem]

Thus, since excess is misguidance just like neglect, so just as it is incumbent to block the door leading to neglect by spreading and publicising the real and actual perfections of those close to the Divine Court so the world knows their virtues and glorified statuses, and a call is made to their obedience and love; in the same way, in order to block [the path] leading to the fitnah of excess it is also necessary to rectify those who have trespassed the limits with respect to the elite servants of Allah, and to announce to the world the real and actual status of those close [slaves of Allah].

This is why, wherever the Mighty Qur’an, in refuting the neglect and insults of the Jews towards the Messiah, explains that Hazrat Masih ibn Maryam is a close prophet and mighty messenger, in the same places, in order to rectify the excess of the Christians, it announces that Hazrat Masih is the slave of Allah, a bondsman, and creation of the Lord.

If on the one hand He says:

Hazrat ‘Isa is my true messenger and his essence is from the greatest signs from the signs of My power, and I created him without a father with only My command, and I gave him great miracles, and because of disrespecting him the Jews have become accursed.

On the other hand, He also clearly says:

Those who say Masih ibn Maryam is Lord or a partner of the Lord are disbelievers, and if Allah Almighty intended to destroy the Messiah and his mother, no one could stop Him, and just as He is Master of all existents, He is also [the Master] of the Messiah and his mother, and they are His bondsmen and creatures.

At times, He expresses the servitude of the Messiah in these clear terms: “The Messiah will never scorn to be a slave unto Allah.” (4:172) And at times, when explaining the misguidance of the Christians, He explains the real status of the Messiah and his mother as follows: “The Messiah, son of Maryam, was no other than a messenger, messengers (the like of whom) had passed away before him. And his mother was a saintly woman. And they both used to eat food.” (5:75) The intent is that the one who eats food, he is in need of food and because of that [is in need of] all those things which are required to prepare food: he will be in need of fertile earth; he will be in need of water so crops can grow; he will need wind to prepare the crops; he will need fire to cook food. Thus, the one who eats food can never be God, as it is impossible for divinity to combine with need.

Anyhow, just as the Noble Qur’an attempts to wipe out neglect (tafrit), similarly, it carries out a full scale battle in order to annihilate excess (ifrat).

Thus, because of not knowing this reality, a group have fallen into deviance by believing that every kind of excess with respect to the elite slaves of the Lord (the prophets – upon them peace – and saints) is praiseworthy and leads to closeness [to Allah]; and if any word against this [belief] emerges from the mouth of a seeker of truth who in order to refute their extreme beliefs explains their real status, these wretched ones declare his action defamation and slander, even though between explanation of status and defamation there is the difference between the earth and sky. The Noble Qur’an teaches the glorification and respect of prophets (upon them peace) in many places, and together with this, it explains their real status and the evil end of those who falteringly exceeded the bounds with respect to them.

Thus, if this explanation of their status is defamation, then (Allah forbid!) is the Noble Qur’an defaming the respected and honourable messengers of the Lord by referring to Hazrat Mahih (upon him peace) as “slave,” “creation,” “bondsman of Allah,” “one who eats food” and refers to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) as “a man like you”?! Allah save [us] from this. It is unfortunate that this misguidance is present in this nation which the Mighty Qur’an has called a “balanced nation,” and refers to them as those who came to this world to remove excess and negligence and bring the entire world onto the path of moderation: “You are the best community that has been raised up for mankind. You enjoin right conduct and forbid indecency; and you believe in Allah.” (3:110)

 

INTRODUCTION: SECTION TWO

May Allah send uncountable blessings on our Salaf! In order to save the ummah from this fitnah of extremism, they did not neglect the minutest effort. When they sensed even the thought of this illness, immediately they undertook precautionary measures. If they had been negligent and relaxed in this affair, then certainly today this blessed ummah would be in that state which has afflicted bygone nations.

Alas! How delicate a time that was when the Master of the Ummah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) passed on from this world. Due to excessive grief and severe sorrow, many Sahabah (Allah be pleased with them) lost consciousness and sense, till such a degree that one of the prominent noble Sahabah refused to accept the prophetic death, and announced: “If anyone says that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) passed away, I will part his head.” When the best of the ummah, Hazrat al-Siddiq al-Akbar (Allah be pleased with him), saw this condition, he immediately went to al-Masjid al-Nabawi and having gathered the people, he ascended the pulpit, and after praising [Allah] and sending blessings [on the Prophet], he began to deliver a sermon as follows:

من كان يعبد محمدا فان محمدا قد مات ومن كان يعبد الله فان الله حي لا يموت مَا مُحَمَّدٌ إِلاَّ رَسُولٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ مِن قَبْلِهِ الرُّسُلُ أَفَإِن مَّاتَ أَوْ قُتِلَ انقَلَبْتُمْ عَلَى أَعْقَابِكُمْ وَمَن يَنقَلِبْ عَلَىَ عَقِبَيْهِ فَلَن يَضُرَّ اللّهَ شَيْئًا وَسَيَجْزِي اللّهُ الشَّاكِرِينَ

“Whoever worships Muhammad, then indeed Muhammad has passed away. And whoever worships Allah, then indeed Allah is Living and never dies. ‘Muhammad is but a messenger, there have been messengers before him. So, if he dies or is killed, would you turn back on your heels? Whoever turns back on his heels can never harm Allah in the least. Allah shall soon reward the grateful.’ (Qur’an 3:144)” (Sahih al-Bukhari)

The noble Sahabah (Allah be pleased with them) said that at the moment Hazrat Abu Bakr al-Siddiq (Allah be pleased with him) delivered this speech, our eyes opened, and we began to realise our error. What was this? In reality, this was an explanation of the [true] status [of the Prophet], by which Hazrat al-Siddiq al-Akbar converted the intoxicated ones to sanity, and he told the people that the life of the Joy of the World (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is not perpetual and eternal like the Lord, but, like the remaining prophets (upon them peace), he also passed away.

Thus, just as the statement of the enemies of the Sahabah (Allah be pleased with him) in relation to this speech of Hazrat al-Siddiq al-Akbar (Allah forbid!) that it is defamation of the Revered Joy of the World (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and diminishment of his glorious rank is open satanism; likewise, because of denying complete knowledge of ghayb or knowledge of all that was and will be for the Holy Prophet (upon him blessings) or because of affirming his humanity, the propaganda of the Ahl al-Bid‘ah in relation to the ‘ulama of Ahl al-Sunnah that they defame and insult the Prophet, is open misguidance, rather extremely shameful evil. “And those who do injustice will soon know to which place they will return.” (26:227)

No doubt, denial of the real qualities and actual perfections of the Revered Master of the two Beings [mankind and jinn] (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is degradation of him and an extreme form of faithlessness and defamation of him, rather, the least insult with respect to his holy station is disbelief and the severest form of disbelief; but, in opposition to the clear statements of the Book and Sunnah, the excessiveness and immoderation of the champions of misguidance with respect to him, its refutation and rejection is the essence of faith and an obligation of Islam. The Master of Existents (Allah bless him and grant him peace) prophesised:

يحمل هذا العلم من كل خلف عدوله ينفون عنه تحريف الغالين وانتحال المبطلين وتاويل الجاهلين

“This knowledge will be carried in every generation by its righteous men: they will negate from it the distortion of the extremists, the false claims of the falsifiers, and the interpretations of the ignorant.” (al-Bayhaqi narrated it in al-Madkhal with a mursalchain)

Thus, in order to eradicate the extreme beliefs of the Ahl al-Bid‘ah, the efforts of the ‘ulama of the Ahl al-Sunnah is the practical realisation of this prophecy, and is putting into practice this prophetic imperative. That which this worthless one [Mawlana Manzur Nu‘man] wishes to present in this place with respect to the knowledge of ghayb of the Revered Joy of the World (Allah bless him and grant him peace), its objective and reason is only this, so that the true teachings of the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of Allah’s Messenger reaches the world, and the ummah is cautioned against the extremism and immoderation of the champions of misguidance in this subject.

“I desire [nothing] besides rectification as much as I am able, and my guidance is from [none] besides Allah.” (Qur’an 11:88) He is sufficient for me, and an excellent advocate.

 

INTRODUCTION: SECTION THREE
IDENTIFYING THE CAUSE OF THE DISAGREEMENT

The famous and well-known title of this issue is ‘ilm al-ghayb (knowledge of the unseen) and ‘ilm jami‘ ma kana wama yakun (knowledge of all that was and will be), and both are ambiguous in their respective contexts. For instance, the learned man of Bareli, Mawlawi Ahmad Rida Khan Sahib, himself, identified approximately 20 applications of the word ‘ilm al-ghayb in his book Tamhid e Iman. And there can be other meanings besides them, from which belief in some is kufr according to all, and some are obligatory and necessary according to all, and some are disputed. Similarly, the words ma kana wa ma yakun, with respect to their linguistic meaning, comprises of all existents from this world and the next, whereas none of the proponents of ‘ilm al-ghayb hold this view, which will insha Allah, be explained thoroughly soon. [1]

Anyhow, both these titles are ambiguous and are not sufficient to explain the intent, and because of this ambiguity in the titles, there has been contradiction and conflict in the explanations from the proponents of ‘ilm al-ghayb themselves.

  1. Many ignorant sermonisers from them in their sermons affirm complete knowledge of all ghayb for the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) without any exception
  2. Some only exclude the essence and attributes of the Lord
  3. Some claim encompassing knowledge of all actualised and potential possibilities [2]
  4. And those that are more experienced and more careful, they only claim encompassing knowledge from the beginning of the creation of the world till the Resurrection. Thus, Mawlawi Ahmad Rida Khan Sahib, who certainly holds intellectual superiority amongst this group, wherever he verified this matter, he clarified these two boundaries. Thus, on page 3 of Inba’ al-Mustafa, in announcing his belief, he writes that Allah Almighty “from the first day till the last day, all that was and will be, He taught him,” meaning, Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace). Furthermore, on page 4 of the same Inba’ al-Mustafa, along with ma kana wa ma yakun he attached the condition of “till the Day of Resurrection.” Thus, he says: “Our Prophet the recipient of the Qur’an – Allah send prayers, blessings and peace upon him and his family and his companions – was given knowledge of all existents from the totality of what was and will be till the Day of Resurrection, all that is contained in the Preserved Tablet.” “All that is contained in the Preserved Tablet” is in reality an explanation of “what was and will be till the Day of Resurrection.” Thus, the aforementioned learned man himself says in al-Dawlat al-Makkiyyah p. 33: “Authentic hadiths have explained that everything that is to happen from the first day till the last day, rather till the entrance of the people of the two abodes into their settlements, is written in the Preserved Tablet, and this is what is expressed as ma kana wa ma yakun.” Furthermore, in the margins of this page, he wrote: “You are aware that our objective is encompassment of all that was and will be of what is established in the Preserved Tablet which is something limited.” Anyhow, his claim is only encompassing knowledge till Resurrection. After this, whatever is to happen in the afterlife, and that which is going to happen in Paradise and Hell till eternity, that is excluded from his usage of ma kana wa ma yakun, and it is not his claim that all of that is known to the Prophet (upon him blessing and peace). Thus, this learned man of Bareli states explicitly in al-Dawlat al-Makkiyyah page 27: “It is known that ma kana wa ma yakun in the sense mentioned [above] which is fully established part by part with complete detail in the Preserved Tablet is nothing besides [knowledge of] this world, as the afterlife is after ‘the last day.’”

From all these statements of the Barelwi learned man, the opinion that surfaces is the following that:

“Detailed encompassing knowledge of all things, particular or universal, religious or secular, from the beginning of the creation of the world till the tumult of resurrection, or according to the aforementioned words, until Paradise and Hell have been occupied, were all given to the Joy of the World (Allah bless him and grant him peace).”

It is obvious that this totality is bounded by two boundaries and restricted between two restrictions. Before the creation of the world, Allah Almighty was present with His attributes and His infinite radiance. With respect to this, it is not the claim of these people that encompassing knowledge of all this was also acquired by the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace). Similarly, those things like heaven and hell which will remain eternally after the Resurrection, and those things that reside in them, it is not their claim that all this is known to the Revered Joy of the World (Allah bless him and grant him peace). Rather their claim is what was presented: only knowledge from the beginning of the creation of the world till Resurrection.

After this, another thing requires verification: when do they claim the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) gained this knowledge? In this, too, the proponents of ‘ilm al-ghayb are extraordinarily chaotic. Some say that the Prophet acquired knowledge of all that was and will be when he was in the womb of his mother. Thus, Qazi Fadl Ahmad Sahib Ludhyanwi on page 137 of his book Anwar Aftab e Sadaqat quotes a Mawludi narration that “the Prophet said that the Pen was writing on the Preserved Tablet and I was listening while I was in the womb of my mother,” and then he concluded, “It is apparent from this that the Revered Pride of the World (Allah bless him and grant him peace), from the beginning of his creation, had acquired ‘ilm al-ghayb…” [3]

It is understood from the writings of some of them that they believe he was granted knowledge of all that was and will be on the night of Mi‘raj. Mawlawi Na‘im al-Din Muradabadi probably had this view, which is understood from some passages on pages 63 and 64 of al-Kalimat al-‘Ulya.

However, Mawlawi Ahmad Rida Khan Sahib here, again, was extremely careful and, in anticipation of debate, made the claim that he was given this knowledge gradually by means of the Pure Qur’an which was revealed piece by piece, and on the day the Mighty Qur’an’s revelation ended, on that day this knowledge was perfected. Thus, the aforementioned learned man says on page 4 of Inba’ al-Mustafa: “Since this knowledge (knowledge of what was and will be till the Day of Resurrection) is attributed to the Mighty Qur’an as ‘an exposition of everything’ (16:89), it is apparent that this is a description of the entirety of the Noble Speech, not every verse or chapter. So, before the revelation of the entire Qur’an, if it was said with respect to some prophets (upon them blessing and peace) that ‘we did not relate to you [their stories]’ (40:78) or about the hypocrites that ‘you do not know them,’ (9:101) these are never in contradiction to these verses and do not negate the encompassing knowledge of Mustafa.”

Furthermore, this learned man says on page 25 of al-Dawlat al-Makkiyyah: “Verily, Allah Almighty taught him (Allah bless him and grant him peace) by means of the Qur’an, and the Qur’an was sent down piece by piece, and did not come down at every moment. Thus it is true [he was given knowledge of ghayb] at some times and of [some] information.”

It is apparent from these two passages of the aforementioned learned man that he does not believe in the completion of this knowledge of ma kana wa ma yakun before the completion of the revelation of the Qur’an; rather, he only believes this after the revelation of the Qur’an. This is why, till today, those verses and hadiths which are presented on behalf of the ‘ulama of Ahl al-Sunnah against the ghaybiyyah belief of the Ahl al-Bid‘ah, most of them were answered by Mawlawi Ahmad Rida Khan Sahib in this way, that this was before the completion of the revelation of the Qur’an, and before that time even I do not claim encompassing knowledge for him. See al-Fuyud al-Malakiyyah Hawashi al-Dawlat al-Makkiyyah by Mawlawi Ahmad Rida Khan Sahib Barelwi.

It is known from this verification that leaving aside the common innovators and their ignorant sermonisers, those who hold religious and academic authority amongst the proponents of ‘ilm al-ghayb, they are themselves divided into three groups:

  1. Those who affirm knowledge of all that was and will be, all things contained in the Preserved Tablet, for the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) before his birth in the womb of his mother
  2. Those who claim he acquired this knowledge on the Night of Mi‘raj
  3. Those who claim this knowledge perfected in the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) after the revelation of the Qur’an was complete

Since the third opinion is that of the learned man of Bareli, Mawlawi Ahmad Rida Khan Sahib, and he is accepted as the imam and leader and reviver and predecessor of this group, this is why I will focus mostly on his opinion. Furthermore, in refuting and invalidating this, the first two opinions will automatically be falsified. This is why there is no particular need to directly focus on them, but since here the objective is to exhaust the matter, I will not totally overlook them. And Allah grants success.

After this, in a few words, I will present the belief of the Ahl al-Sunnah in relation to this issue:

The Beleif of the Ahl al-Sunnah

  1. Intrinsic knowledge and detailed encompassing knowledge which comprises of all knowable things without exception is exclusive to the Creator Almighty. No Messenger or non-Messenger is a partner in this. There is agreement on this between the two groups. Thus, the Barelwi learned man wrote in the “Third Section” of al-Dawlat al-Makkiyyah: “Intrinsic knowledge and absolute detailed encompassing [knowledge] is exclusive to Allah Almighty.” Furthermore, in the “Fifth Section” he said: “We do not claim equal [knowledge] to the knowledge of Allah Almighty and its acquisition independently, and nor do we affirm by the bestowal of Allah Almighty also except a part.” Anyhow, that intrinsic knowledge and detailed encompassing knowledge will not be acquired by any creature is accepted by both groups.
  2. Just as with the visible world, many things from the unseen world (‘alam al-ghayb) are known to the close slaves of Allah Almighty by the bestowal of Allah Almighty, via revelation (wahy) or inspiration (ilham). In this, the prophets and angels (upon them peace) have the greatest share, and holding the highest rank in this perfection amongst the messengers themselves is the Chief of the Prophets and Messengers, the Seal of the Prophets (Allah bless him and grant him peace). For him only Allah Almighty is a realisation of “Above every man of knowledge, there is someone more knowledgeable” (12:76) Allah Almighty send prayers, and bless, and send peace, and honour and glorify him and his family and his companions. Nonetheless, it is not correct to say that he “was given knowledge of all the actualised and potential possibilities.” (al-Kalimat al-‘Ulya p. 3) And this belief is also not correct that the Prophet (upon him blessing and peace) “acquired knowledge of all that was and will be till the Day of Ressurrection, and from the beginning of the creation of the world until Paradise and Hell are occupied, no atom resides outside of the knowledge of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace).” (Inba’ al-Mustafa, p. 4, summarised) [This is incorrect] because the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) not having some knowledge of what was and will be is established from the texts of the Book and Sunnah. Disagreeing with this is not love, rather, it is opposition and misguidance. The first part of this belief of Ahl al-Sunnah which is affirmative is not in need of any evidence and no Muslim denies this. This is why, here my discussion will only be on the negative part. And on this, in this part of my book, I will present the evidences in three chapters. Allah Almighty is asked to grant truthfulness and exactness.
[1] Mawlana Manzur Nu‘mani in this book addresses the actual dispute between the Ahl al-Sunnah and Ahl al-Bid’ah regarding the quantity of prophetic knowledge. There is also a semantic disagreement, of whether this knowledge can be referred to, without qualification, as “‘ilm al-ghayb,” which Mawlana Nu‘mani does not address. The correct position with respect to this semantic disagreement is that although the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was granted much knowledge of the ghayb this cannot be referred to as “knowledge of the ghayb” without qualification, as this unqualified usage implies intrinsic (non-granted) knowledge of the ghayb which is exclusive to Allah. For more detail, see the following article: http://www.deoband.org/2011/12/aqida/deviant-beliefs/dispelling-doubt-about-knowledge-of-the-unseen/ (Translator)

[2] As a result of this, the common innovators generally hold this belief. Mawlawi Na‘im al-Din Sahib Muradabadi most probably held this opinion. See al-Kalimat al-‘Ulya p. 3. (Mawlana Manzur Nu‘mani)

[3] Most of the famous scholars of the Ahl al-Bid‘ah wrote commendations of this book. Even Mawlawi Ahmad Rida Khan Sahib wrote an enthusiastic commendation of it. This is why I mentioned this book here, for otherwise, the author of the book is no great personality from this group. (Mawlana Manzur Nu‘mani)