Is the following argument in favour of seerah jalsahs in Rabiyul Awwal correct?
“There are two aspects to mawlid. One is discussing the various aspects of the life of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and the other is to specify a day. As ardent lovers of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).
The second issue is specifying a month for example, Rabiul Awwal to highlight different aspects of the life of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). In this era of retrogression, the Ummah is far away from the sunnah and ignorant of the life of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). The month of Rabiul Awwal is used to remind and highlight the different aspects of the life of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) to inculcate in the people the value of the sunnah. If these education programmes are conducted purely as an opportunity to highlight the seerah and sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) as people generally frequent the masjid in Rabiul Awwal with the anticipation of learning the seerah of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), then it is regarded as capitalising on an opportunity.
Such programs could be used to remove misconceptions around mawlid on condition there is nothing unislamic in these programs for example intermingling of sexes, photography, singing and music, etc. If one regards the mawlid on a particular day as compulsory or there are any unislamic activities in the mawlid then it will be impermissible.”
Shaitaan is a cunning teacher and expert in the production of Bid’ah which is his extremely potent weapon to ruin the Imaan of people. He presents arguments in deeni guise to entrap simpletons and to provide tools for the ulama-e-soo’ who are the fathers of Bid’ah. The aforementioned argument in favour of Rabiyul Awwal ‘seerah’ jalsahs is satanic deception – Talbeesul Iblees.
The so-called ‘capitalising on opportunity’ is a shaitaani-inspired trick to introduce and entrench bid’ah. The argument is palpably baseless. If the molvi who propounds this moronic view is sincere, then he is extremely short-sighted. But generally these Rabiyul Awwal molvis are not sincere. They introduce new acts of bid’ah in ‘deeni’ guise to bamboozle the unwary and ignorant. The ‘seerah’ jalsahs which these so-called deobandi molvies have innovated of recent are Bid’ah. See attachment.
The underlying motive is to gain a following, to gain pocket-money, to gain donations for pet projects, to fulfil the dictates of the nafs by exhibiting riya, and similar other despicable motives of the nafs. These chaps clamour for public acclaim. The argument which they proffer for the new ‘seerah jalsah’ bid’ah is an extremely subtle trap spun by Shaitaan. In general, even sincere and well-grounded Ulama are deceived and misled by such shaitaani subtleties.
Even a great Aalim such as Hadhrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (Rahmatullah alayh) was initially misled by this shaitaani subtlety. It required a Giant of Uloom, a Muhaqqiq Mudaqqiq Aalim of the calibre of Hadhrat Maulana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi (Rahmatullah alayh) to unravel this shaitaani plot and to convince Hadhrat Thanvi of his error of giving seerah bayaans in Rabiyul Awwal. In lengthy correspondences between these two illustrious Akaabir Ulama, Hadhrat Thanvi finally understood his error and retracted his former stance, and abandoned Rabiyul Awwal participation. In effect Hadhrat Gangohi had pointed out to Hadhrat Thanvi that his argument in justification was ‘nonsense’. It was ‘nonsense’ of the zukhruful qawl type which shaitaan whispers to his league of agents. And, sometimes the sincere Ulama are also entrapped. Only Allah Ta’ala can save us from such subtle evil snares of Iblees.[Hazrat Maulana Ahmad Sadeq Desai]
HADHRAT THANWI’S ERROR AND RETRACTION
Translated by Abu Zaynab
In this era many young Deobandis, while claiming to love and follow the Akabir, are falling prey to participating in those actions that the elders of Deoband frowned upon and which are considered contrary to their minhaj.
The following is a short translation of a passage by Hakīm Al-Ummat Mawlānā Ashraf ‘Alī at-Thānwi (1863-1943), which was included in Tadhkirat al-Rashīd, the biography of Hadhrat Imām Rabbāni Mawlānā Rashīd Ahmed Gangohī (1829-1908 ) that was written after his demise. Subsequently, this was reproduced by Hadhrat Shaykh al-Hadīth Mawlānā Muhammad Zakariyyā al-Kāndhalwī (1898-1982) in his autobiography, Aap Beetī.
The piece contains the viewpoints of Hakīm al-Ummat and Mawlānā Gangohī with regards to the above-mentioned issues – this is the viewpoint of all the other elders of Deoband and those who claim to follow the akābir (elders). Its subsequent inclusion by Hadhrat Shaykh in his Aap Beeti is a clear attestation to the importance and authenticity of the subject matter by one of the leading hadīth scholars and sūfis of the last century. Hakīm Al-Ummat’s stance on the issue, therefore, is equally relevant to all who are connected to the Chishtī-Sābrī-Imdādī tarīqah – whether it is through Hakīm Al-Ummat or Imām Rabbānī.
Hadhrat Hakīm al-Ummat’s writings are extremely insightful, and regardless of whether one resides in the Orient or the Occident, they deal with issues that hold even more relevance in this day and age. Claims that the akābir’s rulings on issues are only relevant to a sub-continental context or milieu is something which even leading contemporary Deobandi ‘ulamā, who have been residing in the west for nearly 50 years now, do not accept.
It is particularly hoped that youngsters who align themselves with the elders of Deoband will find this interesting and, through it, be able to bring themselves closer to the ways of their elders.
May Allah the Almighty grant us the ability to tread in the footsteps of the elders in the way that they would have desired and wanted us to – a methodology derived from the Qur’ān, hadīth and principles of fiqh as understood by the jurists of the ummat before the elders. Āmīn.
Abu Zaynab (Translator)
Hakīm Al-Ummat (may Allāh have mercy on him) says:
The effect of the company of Hadhrat Mawlānā Rashīd Ahmed Gangohī was such that no matter how worried one may have been, or no matter how much anxiety (wasāwis) one may have been experiencing, as soon one entered his presence a special type of tranquillity and firmness in the heart could be felt, by which all types of cloudiness and ambiguity would disappear. It could also be noticed that in nearly all of his murīds a complete level of correct aqīdah, firmness in religion, and in particular, a sense of hubb fillāh and bughdh fillāh (love and dislike for the sake of Allāh) could be seen. All this was a result of the blessings of Hadhrat Mawlānā Gangohī’s company. There are numerous incidents that testify to these perfect qualities.
This lowly one (Hakīm Al-Ummat) was able to gain a little faidh (spiritual blessings) and goodness from each time I was in his company and through my correspondence with him. However, on the basis of the prophetic hadīth that whoever is not thankful to people has not thanked Allah, there were two particular good things that are worthy of mention.
The first is with regards to the ilm-e-zahiri (exoteric sciences) and the second is with regards to the ilm-e-batini (esoteric sciences). A brief explanation of the first is that, in spite of having the correct aqīdah, all praise to Allah, I remained mistaken with regards to those issues upon which the ahl al-haqq (people of the truth) and the ahl al-bid’ah (people of reprehensible innovation) differed upon.
This mistake was such that from it stemmed many of my views and actions. In other words, this related to certain ‘amal-e-rasmiya, like the gatherings commonly known as the mīlād sharīf and its like, which the muhaqqiq ‘ulamā, on account of certain corrupt influences, have unconditionally prevented the general lay public from participating in and likewise also prevented the elite (meaning the ‘ulamā) from taking part in.
I have always considered these corrupt influences (mafāsid) to be reprehensible and the one who carries them out to be blameworthy – this feeling that I had felt was on account of my correct aqīdah, and I would always draw the attention of the layman towards these corrupt influences. However, a concept was settling in my mind that the reason behind the ruling of impermissibility was those corrupt influences, and therefore where the reason was absent then the ruling would also not apply. Hence, I felt there was no reason to prevent the elite, who were free of corrupt influences, from participating in those gatherings.
Likewise, I felt that there was no need to unconditionally prevent the lay public from those activities; rather, I felt that the lay public should be granted permission, and that the corrupt influences should then be corrected. In fact, I used to feel that by granting people permission to participate in such ceremonies, there was a possibility and expediency (maslahat) of people’s aqīdah perhaps being rectified – the corruption of which is the primary cause of the impermissibility. I also felt that by completely preventing the general masses, the lay masses would not understand what the corrupt influences were and that their aqīdah would also not be rectified.
For some time I remained in this state and in spite of continually being involved in the studying and teaching of fiqh and hadīth etc. my mind did not feel inclined to the contrary. How can I thank Hadhrat (may Allah sanctify his secret), he himself, with great tenderness and kindness, expressed regret about me to Molwi Munawwar ‘Alī Darbhangwi regarding this.
One of the issues that stemmed from my mistake was that I had learnt particular zikr and ashgal (spiritual exercises) from certain dervishes, who exerted much effort to mould the shari’ah to fit their personal conditions, thinking that I should take what was praiseworthy from them and leave what was reprehensible.
In fact, I had the opportunity of frequenting and remaining in the company of these dervishes. Regarding the existence of the corrupt traits that were present in their gatherings, I felt that through me the aqīdah of the elite would be rectified and that this was not blameworthy. I also felt that simply informing the lay public about what was right and wrong was sufficient in allowing me to eradicate the corrupt traits. Hadhrat Gangohi expressed regret over this especially.
It is also important to remember that Hadhrat Gangohī’s extensive kindness was similar to what has been narrated in the hadīth regarding the Prophet (sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam), that out of profound kindness and modesty, He (sallallāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam) would not rebuke anyone directly. Likewise, in spite of my presenting myself many times in his company, Hadhrat (may Allah sanctify his secret) would not directly raise an objection to me. He was kind to such an extent that if somebody was to protest against me, he would interpret (ta’wīl) my actions in a positive way and would leave the issue ambiguous.
A further aspect to my mistake was that Hadhrat Hājī Sāheb (Hājā Imdādullah al-Muhājir al-Makkī, may Allah have mercy on him) had once delivered a short speech on the impermissibility of bickering and about the differences that exist in those issues (‘amāl-e-rasmiya). Hadhrat Hājī Saheb had then asked me to write a detailed paper regarding this.
Due to the fact that these ideas about the ruling of impermissibility were deeply-rooted in my mind, I wrote a paper on them and read it aloud to Haji Sāheb in his presence. Because Hadhrat would constantly remain in solitude, mingled very little with the general public, entertained positive thoughts about people, and was not fully aware of the situation, ignorance and divergence (dhalālat) of the general masses, he thought positively of the paper and even made changes in certain places.
Also, due to the fact that Hājī Sāheb (may Allah have mercy on him) had asked for the book to be written on his behalf, and because he had set his signature and seal on it, he granted permission for it to be printed under his name. It was thus published under the title Faysla Haft Mas’ala. Some individuals who lacked intelligence considered it to support their bid’āt. How could it, when it contained discourses that clearly refuted the corrupt influences found in the amal-e-rasmiya (customary practices)?!
The book only mentioned the permissibility of those actions for those who had sound aqidah and sound understanding. The idea behind the book was: how could the corrupt influences that affect the general lay masses affect the elite (khawās)?
Returning to the point of discussion, Hadhrat Gangohī (may Allah sanctify his secret) mentioned all of this to Molwi Munawwar ‘Alī Saheb, upon which Molwi Saheb mentioned it to this lowly one (Hakīm Al-Ummat), and so from the strength of Hadhrat’s spiritual blessings (faidh) in a general way I was made aware of my mistake. However, for further details I felt it necessary to correspond with Hadhrat Gangohī and subsequently letters were exchanged many times between us, which have been published in part one of Tadhkirat Al-Rashīd.
In short, the outcome was such that through insight (basīrat) and analysis (tahqīq), I was – through the favour of Allah – made aware of my mistake. And through being made aware a great door of knowledge was opened to me, which had for quite some time remained locked and which in short was a realisation that the reason for the prohibition in reality was the divergence of aqīdah.
The corruption of aqīdah (that comes as a result of customary practices) is widespread, regardless of whether the person committing the action is the one whose aqīdah is corrupt or whether the person committing the action is the sabab (cause for the aqīdah of others to become corrupt). So, if the one committing the action is an ignorant layman, then his aqīdah will become corrupt and if the one committing the action is from the elite (khawās, including the ‘ulamā) then, even though he may be of sound aqīdah himself, on account of him the aqīdah of the masses will be made corrupt. It is clear that there is a prohibition in becoming the cause of the divergence of others.
Moreover, although by delivering a speech it is possible to admonish the public in relation to the corrupt traits, all of the masses, however, cannot be rectified, nor do all of them listen to the speeches delivered there (where these customs are practised). Hence, if an ordinary member of the public was to hear about the actions of an elite person participating in the amal-e-rasmiya but did not hear the discourse calling for the reformation of those actions from corrupt influences, then that individual would be the cause of the lay person diverging (dhalāl).
Clearly, it is reprehensible to be the cause of divergence for even a single individual, regardless of whether or not there exists some sort of expediency (maslahat) in participating. A well-known principle (of fiqh) states that in whichever action an expediency and corrupt trait gathers, and according to the shar’iah that action is not something that is required, then in such a situation the action will be abandoned. Hence, in line with this principle, one should not be concerned with the acquiring of those expediencies. Rather, one will abandon the action to save oneself from those corrupt influences.
It should be borne in mind that if corrupt traits are to appear in those actions that are necessary, then the compulsory actions will not be abandoned. Rather, one will endeavour to remove those corrupt traits. All these rulings and principles are found in the prophetic traditions and the (accepted) principles of fiqh.
It should be clear to the intelligent reader that all this has already been mentioned in my book Islah-e-Rusum (The Rectification of Customs). When my views regarding this issue were rectified, then all those issues that stemmed from them, by the grace of Allah, were also rectified. Hence, I was also rescued from remaining in the company of and meeting with dervishes whose actions were contrary to the shar’iah. I have also written and published an amendment to Faysla Haft Masala through which any doubts relating to a sense of negligence and excess in the matter were removed…
Aap Beeti (part 6 — Yaad-e-Ayyam 5, page 334-337)
Nazim Kutub Khana Yahyawi, Madressa Mazahir Al-Ulum, Saharanpur, India.
PARTICIPATING IN BID’AH WITH INTENTION OF REFORMING
By Mufti ‘Ashiq Ilahi al-Bulandshehri al-Madani
Translation and Introduction by Ismaeel Nakhuda
[Taken from deoband.org]
Living in the vicinity of the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, Mawlana Mufti ‘Ashiq Ilahi al-Bulandshehri (1925-1999)—a respected and acclaimed student of the North Indian hadith master Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya al-Kandhalawi—was a prolific writer, a Hanafimufti, and a hadith scholar of great magnitude.
Originally from Bulandshehr, India, Mufti ‘Ashiq Ilahi was a graduate of the world-acclaimedmadrassah Mazahir ‘Ulum Sahranpur and spent years serving Islam by teaching at numerous Islamic seats of learning across north India, and also—on the request of Mufti Taqi Usmani’s father, Mufti Muhammad Shaf‘i Usmani—at Dar al-‘Ulum, Karachi, where among many other duties he was given the responsibility of the madrassah’s superb Dar al-Ifta.
A murid of Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya al-Kandhalawi, Mufti ‘Ashiq Ilahi later migrated to Madinah where he remained constantly fulfilling his life-long preoccupation of imparting knowledge, traversing the path of suluk and authoring several books, including the well-received and popular Zad al-Talibin.
For numerous years after the demise of Shaykh al-Hadith, Mufti ‘Ashiq Ilahi, together with Shaykh al-Hadith’s other students, notably Mawlana ‘Abd al-Hafiz al-Makki, diligently added extra notes and other beneficial additions to the shaykh’s commentary of Imam Bukhari’s Sahih,Lami‘ al-Darari. The work carried out by these scholars was done at the behest of Shaykh al-Hadith prior to his demise and reflects their standing in their shaykh’s eyes and serves as a monument to their love for and dedication to hadith. This multi-voluminous commentary ofSahih al-Bukhari is currently being published under the title Al-Kanz al-Mutawari fi Ma‘adin al-Lam‘i al-Dirari.
Mufti ‘Ashiq Ilahi died in Madinah at the ripe old age of 80 and was buried in Baq‘i al-Garqad in 1999. May Allah shower him with His mercy, make his grave a garden of paradise and grant us all the pleasure of being buried close to the best of creation in the shadow of the green dome. Amin.
The following is a translation of a brief passage from a small treatise by the respected muftientitled Islami Ahkam Seh Pehlutahi Karnehwalo Keh Hileh Awr Bahaneh (The Excuses and Pretexts of Those Who Twist Islamic Rulings), published by Dar al-Ishat, the publishing house owned by the family of Mufti Taqi ‘Usmani.
This article has been written for the benefit of Deobandi readers; in particular those who court the Ahl al-Bid‘ah with aspirations of bridging differences but in reality are only driving a chasm between themselves and the spiritual and academic legacy of their Akabir.
What Mufti ‘Ashiq Ilahi writes is interesting. He mentions the fallacy of arguments by ‘ulama—employed as imams and teachers at institutes and mosques run by the Ahl al-Bid‘ah—who remain indifferent to bid‘ah and justify their actions under the pretext of wanting to rectify their students and congregation at an appropriate, but absent, later time.
In light of modern socio-Islamic tendencies the net could be cast further afield to include those‘ulama who conduct light-study courses with the ‘ulama of the people of Bid‘ah (as teachers), beckon to their invites (as speakers at conferences), answer questions for their fatwa sites (usually on non-controversial “safe” topics), and promote their writings and translations thus legitimising the Ahl al-Bid‘ah among Deobandi youth.
In fact, the above would not be an issue as long as the ‘ulama concerned would, while adhering to the Deobandi maslak, promote it and use their positions to actively rectify bid‘ah rather than confining themselves to discussing “safe” issues.
For a number of years, this sorry state of affairs has continued, smudging the tract of the Akabir and confusing large numbers of young Western-born Deobandis (who have already been nourished on a lethal mix of happy-clappy, flower-power, pop-cum-nashid singers). It seems the Deobandi maslak is being resold to the Deobandis in the West with a deadly cocktail of bid‘ah. A dangerous door has been opened, which needs to be firmly shut. “Let the people of insight take heed.”
“Some people are seen to participate in bid‘ah or in the least remain silent from describing such actions to be bid‘ah. When they are asked, ‘Why do you allow such bid‘ah to continue? Why do you participate in them? And why do you deal with the issue hypocritically?’ They answer, ‘I am slowly bringing them to the [right] path. When they feel comfortable with me, I will explain to them the truth and stop them from bid‘ah.’
“Firstly, it is completely impermissible to commit a sin and participate in bid‘ah to bring others to the [right] path. One should rectify others by adhering to one’s faith while avoiding sins and keep away from bid‘ah rather than flowing in the current of bid‘ah together with the lay-public, and watching sins and bid‘ah [taking place] and—in spite of having the ability—not stopping [these things from happening]. This is clearly against the demands of iman. Committing sins oneself to bring others to the path is not an act of religiosity or tactful behavior. The shari‘ah has not granted permission for this.
“Secondly, when one continues indulging in bid‘ah for some time, or remains silent while bid‘ah take place in front of one’s eyes, then there will be no way left for islah (rectification). They [the people of bid‘ah] will never listen, and make counter allegations saying, ‘Oh, this action has today become a bid‘ah? It wasn’t a bid‘ah before when you yourself used to participate or remained silent?’ Additionally, what guarantee does one have that one will be among such people when one will consider oneself able to say the truth?
“In reality, this excuse is made by those who undertake jobs as imams and teachers among the people of bid‘ah. Their purpose is getting a job. They tolerate bid‘ah to continue with their jobs and explain to people that once they become familiar with them [their congregation and students] then they will bring them to the [right] path. They have different aspirations inside, and on the exterior furnish an excuse of wanting to rectify them. Every person should check his own heart and judge himself.”