Islam and Takfirism: Ideological Basis for Peace, Non-Violence, Tolerance and Human Rights in the Writings of Imam Ahmed Raza
Ghulam Ghaus, New Age Islam
19 April 2015
Imam Ahmad Raza popularly known as Ala Hazrat is said to have been one of the great Sufi-Sunni revivers of Islam. Born in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh in North India, the jurist belonged to Hanafi school of thought. Academicians, both Muslim and non-Muslim, have counted more than fifty branches of Knowledge in his writings.(1) The great poet of the East, Dr. Allama Iqbal, remarked, “Such a genius and intelligent jurist did not emerge”.
Among his Sufi-Sunni followers, Ala-Hazrat is remembered as a lover kindling the hearts of others with the flame of true love for Allah Almighty and his beloved prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Far from rumours about him, an unbiased academic study at his contributions has brought me to embrace his researched treatises produced in the last century, on scholarly Islamic and rational grounds, which also deter the Sunni-Sufi Muslims from being deluded by the current violent jihadist narratives.
As a result, we have witnessed more than a million of people including clerics condemning ideologies of the terrorist organizations like Taliban, ISIL, Al-Qaeda etc at annual Urs-e-Alahazrat, (December 19, 2014). The Times of India reported: “On the last day of annual Urs-e-Razwi of Imam Ahmed Raza, Muslim clerics condemned the terrorism practiced by the Taliban, and the orthodoxy of the Wahhabi sect. The clerics said the world should come together to protest the killing of innocent people in the name of Islam. Ulema should launch a campaign against the Taliban and the Wahhabis, said clerics, cheered by a large number of people at the Islamia ground” in Bareilly.
The most remarkable features of Imam Ahmed Raza that I have got from his treatises are his ideological bases for peace, non-violence, tolerance, patience, steadfastness, and human rights, religious concessions at certain times in certain conditions, extreme cautiousness and genuine theological approach to resolve the issue of Takfir. Significantly, In India he was the first in his era to resolve the then most controversial issue of Al-wala Wal-Bara under the subject of Mawalat and Muaamalat.
Imam Ahmed Raza and promotion of peaceful coexistence with non-Muslims under the subject of Mawalat and Muaamalat
Islam does not prevent us from promoting good relations with non-Muslims. Cooperating with Christians, Jews, Hindus or people of any religion, respecting their rights as humans, neighbours, citizens etc, and treating them with just and fair is not forbidden in Islam. In his book “Al-Mahajjah al-Mu’taminah fi Ayat al-Mumtahinah, (The Safe haven: in the verse of Mumtahinah)”, promoting the concept of peaceful coexistence with non-Muslims under the subject of Mawalat and Muaamalat, Imam Ahmad Raza rahimahullah writes:
“Muwaalat (bearing Love and affection) is entirely different from Muaamalat(giving consideration and conducting transactions with someone). The difference between the two is like the distance between the sky and the earth. It is permissible to conduct transactions and have dealings with anyone, except with apostates like Wahabis and Deobandis (The terms “Wahabis” and “Deobandis” here do not include those people in our times who call themselves Wahabis and Deobandis but they are unfamiliar with their elders, so all Wahhabis in our times cannot be ruled as apostates, Allah knows the best) in worldly matters, and [matters] in which there is no harm for religious obligations.
"The Dhimmi is similar to a Muslim in all such dealings. “They shall have the same rights and obligations as us”- (لهم ما لنا وعليهم ما علينا). It is permissible to conduct transactions even with non-dhimmis. Transactions like buying and selling, leasing and renting, giving and accepting gifts (upon the condition that these gifts are permitted by the shariah); and to purchase anything from them, when such goods are of benefit for Muslims; and to sell them anything except weapons or such things that may be (mis)used to insult Islam.
"So also, it is permitted to employ them to do things that are not contrary to the shariah; and to accept employment of non-muslims in permissible activities that are not humiliating [to Muslims]; so also is hiring them and getting hired by them. It is permissible to give them gifts as goodwill (Maslehat-e-Shariah) as long as such gifts do not honour the rituals and religious customs of infidels, and to accept their gifts as long as such gifts do not contravene or criticise Islam. It is even permissible to marry a Christian or Jewish woman. As long as they make peace with us, we shall be inclined towards them [in amity] – as long as such treaties do not force us to make halal (the permissible) asHaram (the forbidden) and vice versa. So also, [it is allowed] to have contracts with them, and have covenants with them to a certain extent and when such a permissible covenant is made, it is obligatory to fulfil it and it is forbidden to betray or renege from such promises.”
-- (Al-Mahajjah al-Mu’taminah fi Ayat al-Mumtahinah, -The Safe haven: in the verse of Mumtahinah)
In a nutshell, whether in Muslim countries or not, promoting peaceful coexistence and cooperation with non-Muslims including Christians, Jews and Hindus etc was never forbidden in worldly matters. However, this does not mean that Muslims should compromise on religious obligations or placate non-Muslims by embracing their religious practices and traditions. The above-mentioned book of Ala Hazrat Imam Ahmed Raza gives us a very balanced treatise on living in harmony with others and at the same time it calls us to maintain our religion with steadfastness, firmness and patience."
Imam Ahmed Raza and his stand on Concessions in religious issues give us solutions to newly rising problems like Terrorism and Violence
Imam Ahmed Raza (May Allah be pleased with) lit the lamps of God-gifted reasoning, scientific method and wisdom to reconcile the changing demands of life with the eternal divine law. In his book “Jali an-Naşş fi Amakin ar-Rukhaş – Clear Textual Evidence Concerning Situations for concessions”, he highlighted seven Fiqhi maxims of Islam to cope up with the ever-changing conditions of life. In this book, he explained that certain prohibited things become permissible at certain conditions and certain times, giving the guideline regarding concessions. Referring the Qur'anic commandments and traditions of the holy prophet (pbuh), he also holds the view in the relative issue that it does not mean that every prohibited thing becomes permissible at some time or the other, nor does it mean that in every situation, there can be found one excuse or another. His book explains rulings regarding concessions in religious matters based on the seven fundamental Islamic principles of jurisprudence:
1. “To remove harmful things is more important than gaining benefit” (درء المفاسد أهم من جلب المصالح)
2. “Necessities cause the prohibited things to be permissible”, (الضرورات تبيح المحظورات)
3. “If one has to choose between two evils, one should choose the lesser one” (من ابتلى ببليتين اختار أهونهما) in order to save himself from worse.
4. “Harm must be removed” (الضرر يزال)
5. “Difficulties demand facilitation” (المشقات تجلب التيسير)
6. “That which is forbidden to take, is forbidden to give” (ما حرم أخذه حرم اعطاؤه)
7. “Verily, actions are judged by intentions, and for every person is what he intended” (إنما الأعمال بالنيات وإنما لكل امرئ ما نوى)
Besides, he states that concessions fall in the five categories: Necessity (Darurah), Need (Hajah), Benefit (Munafaah), Accessory or Adornment (Zinah) and Superfluousness (Fudul).
These seven Islamic principles of jurisprudence that Imam Ahmed Raza quoted in his book “Jali an-Naşş fi Amakin ar-Rukhaş” are playing pivotal roles in bringing out the people heavily fettered in shackles of rigidity, irrationality and extremism. In this push-button age, while deducing Islamic laws, these principles help us to address the newly rising problems, in promoting peaceful existence, mutual cooperation, harmony, and treating the people with moderation, tolerance, benevolence, mildness and gentleness.
These principles have become the powerful elements for the true Sufi-oriented majority mainstream Muslims for maintaining peace and especially for the true Islamic jurists and scholars in order to issue fatwas against terrorism, barbarism, violence, injustice, and against violent ideologues who are killing innocent civilians including Muslims and non-Muslims all around the globe under the garb of the so-called ‘Jihad’.
It must be noted that Imam Ahmed Raza resolved the rising problems his times by refuting the disrespectful and blasphemous writings of the then Wahhabi ideologues in an irrefutable and strong manner, being limited only to academic ground. Similarly, following in the footsteps of Imam Ahmed Raza, we must reject the modern violent Wahhabi ideologues who are distorting the true spirit of Islam by giving the false permissibility to indiscriminately kill the innocent citizens including Muslims and non-Muslims under the name of so-called ‘Jihad’. Rejecting the terrorist ideologies has become the urging need of our times. Therefore, based upon the above-mentioned principles, we Sufi-oriented Muslims must make all possible efforts to promote peaceful teachings of Islam for all humanity in all kinds of mutual cooperation that does not harm the true spirit of Islam and the true faith of Muslims.
Ideology of Imam Ahmed Raza regarding Violation of human rights
In his treatise titled “Aajabul Imdad fi Mukafferati Huqooq al-Ibad”, Imam Ahmed Raza (May Allah be pleased with him) illumined us with the idea of protecting the human rights (Huquq al-Ibad). Referencing the holy Qur’an and Hadith, he states that Allah Almighty will not himself forgive the violation of human rights (Huquq al-Ibad), unless the oppressed one himself forgives it. He also opined that if Allah Almighty pleases, He may forgive any sin related to rights of Allah (Huququl-Allah) except for the sin of polytheism (shirk).
Human rights, according to Islam, include the rights to life, security, justice, equality, and rights to protect innocent civilians from oppression, terrorism, violence, aggression and right to promoting peaceful coexistence, mutual harmony, love for the motherland, and religious freedom etc.
Based upon the basic principle held by Imam Ahmed Raza in protection of human rights, we Sufi-minded Sunni Muslims, as being the followers of Imam Ahmad Raza, would not hesitate to say that Allah Almighty will not forgive those who violate human rights by killing and bombing innocent lives, committing suicide attacks in public or in person in any countries, Muslim or non-Muslim.
Tolerance, Patience and Piety of Imam Ahmed Raza in return for Personal Attacks
A just study into the following letter written by Ala Hazrat Imam Ahmad Raza to Mr. Ashraf Ali Thanvi, gives us the notion of tolerance, patience and piety in return for personal attacks and defamations. It attracts us towards the ideal attitude of Ala Hazrat that he never adopted violent attitudes towards his adversaries. He never took weapons to fight against those who abused and defamed his own personal status. The only thing he preferred was the ideological fight to defend the true version of Islam.
The letter was written in Urdu and is available in the book “Abhas-e-akhira”. I have translated some of its essential parts for the English readers. In this letter, Imam Ahmad Raza says to Mr. Ashraf Ali Thanvi:
“Mr. Ashraf Ali Thanvi,
“All praise be to Allah Almighty! I have submitted myself in humility to Allah Almighty. I have neither personal enmity nor worldly hostility in my heart against anyone. My beloved master Muhammad (pbuh)has blessed me with the duty to serve my Muslim brothers. I want only to update Muslim brothers with those who call themselves to be Muslims and attack the lordliness of Allah Almighty and holiness of his beloved Messenger Muhammad (pbuh). This Faqir (humble man) is appointed to inform Muslim brothers of those who want to push them into the hell by cheating them under the garb of cassocks, turbans, Islamic titles (Maulviayt and Mashekhiyat), the holy Quran and traditions of the prophet (pbuh). With the blessings of Allah almighty, this pious work has got higher culmination of success and will continue so long as Allah Almighty wills. This is a special bounty of Allah upon us and the people. All praise be to Allah, the lord of the entire universe. I do not want more than that and I do not care if someone is abusing me or accusing me or defaming me. My lord, Allah Almighty has already said to us believers:
“And you will surely hear many taunts from those who were given the Book before you, and from the polytheists. But if you remain patient and pious, it is then an act of great courage” (3:186)”.
Ala Hazrat Imam Ahmed Raza quoted this verse (3:186) here to highlight the teachings of patience, steadfastness and piety in return for taunts and other wrongs perpetrated by the opponents. This was the attitude of Ala Hazrat that he always had patience and piety in return for attacks and abusive comments directed at his own personality. He further says:
“All praises be to Allah! This is not merely an oral claim. All my proceedings justly witness it. Both the allies and adversaries know that I have not bothered about any personal attacks directed at me, but rather I have cared only in the religious matters and as much as possible given irrefutable answers”.
Imam Ahmed Raza also says, “If Allah wills, I will never care for personal attacks. I have got the service to support and defend the honour and highness of my beloved Master Muhammad (pbuh)and not my personal honour. I am ecstatic that as long as they are busy abusing me, slandering and defaming me, they are prevented from using derogatory speeches for my master Muhammad (pbuh)or diminishing his rank. I have already published it and I write it again that the coolness of my eyes is in the blessing that my honour and the honour of my forefathers be sacrificed for the sake of honour of the Messenger of Allah Almighty and be a shield for his honour” (To read the full letter, please go through the book “Abhas-e-Akhira”)
Having pondered over the above mentioned letter of Imam Ahmed Raza to Mr. Ashraf Ali Thanvi, it is clear that Imam Ahmed Raza devoted his entire life only to defend the true lordliness of Allah Almighty and the holy status of the prophet (pbuh). For that matter, he pleasantly sacrificed his own honour and never tried to defend his own personality. What I see is the ideal for us Muslims that he did his duty with steadfastness, piety, patience and tolerance even in return for personal attacks and defamation.
Extreme Caution of Imam Ahmed Raza in the Issue of Takfir
It is unfair to make hasty comments, believing rumours against any personality. Particularly against the God-gifted personality like Ala Hazrat Imam Ahmad Raza who had mastery in more than fifty branches of knowledge and who resolved the growing problem of his time in an irrefutable scholarly way. However, we find some people accusing him of Takfirism, without bothering to analyze his genuine theological research and true teachings of Islam leading one’s soul to the divine chambers, the true oneness of Allah and the true dignity of the prophet Muhammad (pbuh). I am reproducing some accounts of Ala Hazrat which bring us to the fact that he adopted extreme precaution in matter of Takfir and never let his widely approved research go against the fundamental sources of Islam in the relative issue.
In his famous book, “Subhan as Subuh An Aibi Kadhibi Maqbooh -Glorification of the Sanctified from an Odious Flaw like Falsehood)", he theologically and scholarly refuted the arguments of Maulvi Ismail Dehlvi who labelled the practices of majority mainstream Muslims with Kufr and Shirk and disrespected Allah Almighty and his beloved prophet Muhammad (pbuh)in his writings. Despite that, Ala Hazrat did not declare Mr. Ismail Dehlvi a Kaafir. In the same book, Ala Hazrat says, “We do not make any comment on the Kufr of Maulvi Ismail Dehlvi. This is only because our beloved prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has warned us against declaring the Ahle Qibla as Kaafir. To term a person a Kaafir may be possible only when his kufr becomes clear like the sun and we do not find the slightest indication that he is a Muslim”.
In another famous book, “Al Kaukabatush Sha'haabiya”, he rebutted the arguments of Maulvi Islamil Dehlvi and some of his followers, kindling the hearts of the believers with the true dignity of and true love for the prophet Muhammad (pbuh). In spite of that, Ala Hazrat said “In our opinion (the opinion of Islam), declaring a person a Kaafir and controlling one’s tongue is an act of extreme precaution and analysis”.
Ala Hazrat also says: “There is surely much difference between accepting words of Kufr and declaring a person a Kaafir. We must be extremely careful in that. We should remain silent. If we find the minutest possibility that the person is still a Muslim, we should fear branding that person a Kaafir”. (Sallus Suyooful Hindiya)
Ala Hazrat listed 75 statements of kufr of Maulvi Ismael Dehlvi in his books. Yet he did not declare Mr. Isamil Dehlvi a Kaafir. He merely observed Kafe Lisan (Silence) over the matter. Ala Hazrat further says: “Scholars are still discussing the difference between luzum (necessitating) and iltizam (becoming necessary). It is one thing for a statement to be kufr, and an entirely different thing to rule the person kafir on account of that statement”. He also says “Cautious scholars have preferred to withhold from takfīr of this man” (see books of Ala Hazrat; Al-Kawkabatu’sh Shihabiyyah fi Kufriyyati Abi’l Wahabiyyah [The Thundering Fireball: Upon the Heresies of the Father of Wahabism] and "Subhan as Subuh An Aibi Kadhibi Maqbooh (Glorification of the Sanctified from an Odious Flaw like Falsehood etc)
One of the reasons is also counted that Mr. Ismail Dehlvi was not a contemporary of this great Imam Ahmed Raza. Mr. Ismail Delhvi had already died (d. 1246) by the time of Ala Hazrat (d. 1340 AH). It had become popular that Mr. Ismail Dehlvi had repented for his disgraceful writings. But, whether this was rumour or reality, it could not be verified by Ala Hazrat. Hence, there was a case of benefit of doubt. Every judicious and intellectual appreciated the precautionary measure taken by Ala Hazrat over the issue of Takfir.
While analyzing the books of the great Imam Ahmad Raza (May Allah be pleased with him), the most significant feature I got is that Ala Hazrat (May Allah be pleased with him) did not do adopt the abrupt attitude to do Takfir of the then Wahhabi ideologues who disrespected Allah Almighty and the holy prophet (pbuh) in their writings. He first examined their writings, caught the objectionable materials and then wrote letters to them, making sympathetic appeals towards them to repent for their disrespectful writings. He wrote to them time and again, explaining the stand of the Quran and traditions of the prophet (pbuh) on their disrespectful writings. But they did not repent for their disrespectful writings and continued to lure the common people. After all, Ala Hazrat (May Allah be pleased with him) did nothing other than refuting their writings academically, saving the Muslim community from the then false ideologies of Wahhabism.
A sympathetic appeal of Imam Ahmed Raza to renounce the ugly belief of ‘imkan al-kadhib’
At the end of his book “Subhan as-Subuh”, he made a sympathetic appeal to renounce the ugly belief of “Imkan al-Kadhhib” (possibility of lies for God) and says:
“Whining is the old habit of those who are unable to answer; but, “indeed I advise you to do one thing” (34:46) – reminding you of the right of Islam and hoping you will heed, I ask you to forget your biases and egos for a few moments “in groups of two and alone” (34:46) and sit in seclusion in ones and twos and think about it. If the speech of your opponent is true and upright, then why hesitate to accept it? Did the Quran not teach you, did your Lord Almighty not tell you “He who fears, will heed admonition; and the vicious will stay away from it” (87:10-11). My dear brothers! O my companions in uttering the kalimah! –“undoubtedly the soul excessively commands towards evil” (12:53), and the accursed devil is its helper. But by Allah! “When he is asked to fear Allah, he becomes more obstinate” (2:206) is a terrible calamity – “Is there not a single person amongst you who is rightly guided?”(11:78)”. (Subhan as-Subuh by Ala Hazrat)
This sympathetic appeal made by Imam Ahmed Raza makes us realize that how much he had pain for brining the stray ideologues towards to the right path. It is worthy to mention here that Mr. Rashid Gangohi was one of the most prominent leaders who claimed that “Lying is possible for Allah Almighty”. Imam Ahmed Raza refuted this false ideology and made the above appeal to renounce it. But Mr. Rashid Gangohi did not repent for this ugly belief. Similarly, those Wahhabi and Deobandi ideologues who disrespected Allah Almighty and his beloved prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in their writings could have sought forgiveness from Allah Almighty, but they did not do so.
To know more that Ala Hazrat had extreme caution in matter of Takfir, please read his book “Al-Ataya an-Nabawiyyah fil Fatawa ar-Ridawiyyah (Bestowal of Prophetic blessings in Razvi rulings” Volume 12 and page: 317-318)
Genuine theological approach of Ala Hazrat to address the issue of Takfir
Some people claim that Ala Hazrat was hasty in Takfir and anybody who did not agree with him was declared a Kaafir. Mr. Abul Hasan Ali Nadawi wrote: “He was the flag-bearer of Takfir”. He does not say the same thing about Maulvi Ismail Dehlvi who introduced Wahhabism in India and his book “Taqwiyyatul Iman” did not spare anybody from Kufr. He described common practices like Tawassul and many other things as polytheism (Shirk).
The accusers must read the books of Ala Hazrat in a balanced way and at least the following excerpts from his book “Tamheed-e-Iman” and answer where Ala Hazrat is hasty in matter of Takfir. Having gone through his books, the people who have even the slightest intelligence can say that Ala Hazrat had god-gifted qualities and depth knowledge of Islam and that Ala Hazrat was right in his genuine theological approach towards the matters of Kufr. They would realize that it was the need of the time and he took the people towards the true understanding of faith and saved the fellow Muslims from disrespectful writings against Allah Almighty and the prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
The excerpts from the book “Tamheed-e-Iman (The preamble to faith)”
“The second fraudulent of this insolent group is that Imam Azam (may Allah be pleased with him) has said, “We do not declare any person as a disbeliever so long as he prays with his face towards our Qiblah." There is a Hadith which confirms that he, who prays with us, turns his face towards our Qiblah, eats the meat of the animals slaughtered in our Islamic way is a Muslim. O Muslim! In this fraudulent argument these people have shifted their stand for faith from reciting the Kalima), to turning the face towards Qiblah. They argue that a man who offers his prayers with his face towards the Qiblah is a Musiim, even if he calls Allah a liar and uses insulting language for the Prophet (pbuh). In the first place the answer to this fraudulent argument is:
Your Allah Almighty says:
It is not righteousness that you turn your face to the East or West; but righteous is he who believes in Allah and the Last Day, the angels and scripture and Prophets.” (2:177)
See that AlIah has made it quite clear that the basic requirements of faith are to accept the essentials of Islam and that turning your face towards Qiblah is of no significance without accepting those essentials. At another place in the Quran Allah says: "And naught prevents that their contribution should be accepted from them save that they have disbelieved in Allah and His Messenger, and they come not to worship save as idlers, and pay not their (contribution) save reluctantly." (9: 54)
See that their prayers have been mentioned and yet they have been classified as disbelievers. Did they not offer their prayers facing the Qiblah? Also note that they used to offer their prayers in a congregation led by the most-loved, the greatest and the final Prophet Mohammad facing Qiblah, and He says:
“But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor due, then are they your brothers in religion. We detail Our revelations for a people who have knowledge. And if they break their pledges after their treaty (had been made with you) and assail your religion, then fight the heads of disbelief-Lo! They have no binding oaths in order that they may desist". (9: 11-12)
See that the praying and poor-due paying people have been called heads of the disbelievers and leaders of disbelief, because they assailed Islam. Are the arrogant words of the insolent people against Allah and His Prophet not just like assailing the faith of Islam? In this connection listen:
Your Allah Almighty says:
"Some of those who are Jews change words from their context and say: "We hear disobey; hear you as one who hears not" and "Listen to us!" distorting with their tongues and slandering religion. If they said: “We hear and we obey: hear you, and look at us" it had been better for them, and more upright. But Allah has cursed them for their disbelief, so they believe, not, save a few. (SURAH IV: 46)
Insulting the prophet is kufr:
Some Jews used to interrupt Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in the course of his speech by saying an ambiguous Arabic word 'Ra’ina'. Allah knew that the Jews were pretending outwardly to show respect but at heart they wanted inwardly to show disrespect to the Prophet. This word, if spoken in polite manner means "Listen to us". The second possible meaning is "Listen to us, you as one who hears not" The third meaning, if the middle vowel is prolonged while speaking the word, 'Ra’ina', are "our shepherd". Since there were different possibilities of the meanings of one word, Allah has considered the ambiguity as a serious attempt to assail Islam. Be just and say that all the three meanings do not insult the personality of our Prophet so much as the words of the insolent men of today, who have said that the knowledge of the Prophet (pbuh) is less than Satan or that it is equal to the knowledge of madmen or animals. These insolent men have also said that Allah is a liar and yet they pretend to be virtuous Sunni Muslims. We seek the refuge of Allah who is the Lord of the Worlds.
Secondly, it is a baseless allegation against Imam Azam (may Allah be pleased with him) because in his book about his creed Fiqah Akbar it is stated: "All the attributes of Allah are eternal; neither somebody has created them nor they have come into existence by accident. Anybody who says that they are created or accidental or who entertains doubt or delay in this matter is a disbeliever."
Similarly, Imam Humam (may Allah be pleased with him) says in his book "Kitab-ul- Wasiya": “Any Person who says that the Holy Quran is a created collection of words has committed an act of disbelief against Almighty”.
According to an authentic statement of Imam Abu Yusuf (may Allah be pleased with him), the great Imam says that he had a discussion with Imam Abu-Hanifa (may Allah be pleased with him) on the subject of the creation of the Holy Quran. They both agreed that any person, who says that the Holy Quran is a created thing, is a disbeliever. This view is also confirmed by Imam Muhammad."
In other words three Imams (may Allah be pleased with them) have concurred that any person who describes the glorious Quran as a created thing is a disbeliever. Do the Mutazilah, Kiramiyah and Rawafiz, who described the Holy Quran as a created thing, not pray with their faces towards the same Qiblah?
Let us take a small detail of the subject. A leader of the Hanafi School of Islamic law, Imam Abu Yusuf (may Allah be pleased with him) says in his book "Kitab-ul-Khiraj":- “A person who, after embracing Islam uses insulting language for Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) or accuses the Prophet (pbuh) of telling a lie or alleges that there is any defect in the Prophet's character (pbuh) or tries in any other way to belittle the dignity of the Prophet, certainly becomes a disbeliever. He has disbelieved in Allah, and his wife has gone out of his matrimonial contract." See how clearly the point is made! Any Muslim who finds faults with Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) ceases to be a Muslim and becomes a disbeliever and his wife goes out of his matrimonial contract. Does this Muslim not pray with his face towards the Qiblah or does he not recite the Kalima? He does both, but since he has insulted the Prophet (pbuh), he has lost all chances of the acceptance of his Qiblah or Kalima. O, Allah we seek your refuge!
Thirdly, the fact of the matter is that the term "facing the Oiblah" in the opinion of the Imams stands for a person who believes in all the essentials of the Islamic faith. If that person denies even a single essential, he certainly becomes a disbeliever, in the light of the unanimous verdict of the Islamic scholars. Anybody who does not call such a person a disbeliever is himself a disbeliever. Shifa Sharif, Bazaziah, Dar Radd- e-Gharoor, and Fataawa-e-Khairiah and many other books state:
“All the Muslims are unanimously of the view that any person, who shows disrespect to Prophet Muhammad, is a disbeliever. Anybody, who doubts it, is himself a disbeliever” Majma-ul-Anhar and Durr-e-Mukhtar show as under: "Any person, who becomes a disbeliever on account of showing disrespect to a Prophet, will not be forgiven; and anybody who doubts his punishment or disbelief is himself a disbeliever" Allah be praised! This is an important aspect of this topic and the entire Muslim community is unanimous that these insolent people are disbelievers; he, who does not consider them as disbelievers, is himself a disbeliever.
“It is mentioned in the commentary on Fiqah Akbar,
“The correct approaches include this that the followers of Qiblah will not be called disbelievers, unless they refuse to accept the essential requirements of faith; for instance treating forbidden (Haraam) as allowed (Halaal). It is no secret that our scholars, when they say that the followers of Qiblah should not be classified as disbelievers, do not mean just turning one's face towards the Qiblah. The Rafizi people falsely say that Gabriel made a mistake in conveying the revelations; Allah had sent him towards Hazrat Ali (May Allah be pleased with him) and not Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Some of them treat Hazrat Ali (May Allah be pleased with him) as Allah. These people, though they pray with their faces towards the Qiblah, are not Muslims. This Hadith also has a similar meaning, which says that he, who prays like us, turns his face towards our Qiblah, and eats the animals slaughtered by us, is a Muslim". It means that such a person must believe in the essential requirements of the Islamic faith, and he should not do anything against the spirit of the faith.
In the same book we come across this statement: "That is to say, it is an agreed view of the Islamic scholars that a person who violates the essential requirements of Islam is a disbeliever, though he may be a follower of the Qiblah and he may Spend his entire life in performing the acts of obedience, as has been stated in Sharah-e- Tahreer by Imam Ibnul Hammam." The books of Islamic belief, law and principles are full of clear directives and details on this point.
Disrespecting Allah and His prophets is worse than idol worship:
Fourthly, this subject has its own plain logic. Can a person, who offers prayers five times a day with his face towards the Qiblah and worships Maha Dev once a day, be regarded by any sensible person to be a Muslim? The action of worshipping Maha Dev and the action of calling Allah a liar or insulting the Prophet are equally the acts of disbelief but the acts of disrespecting Allah and His Prophet are definitely more serious than worshipping Maha Dev. 'Some acts of disbelief are worse than others'. The reason is that worshipping an idol is a symbolic denial of Allah, but this symbolic denial, is not equal to the actual denial.
Moreover, prostration (sajda) before an idol can be possibly given a rational explanation that it may have been just an act of respect and not an act of worship. Any act of respect done in the form of prostration (sajda), is not an act of disbelief in itself. For example, if a person comes before a scholar or a spiritual leader and prostrates before him as a mark of respect, he may be judged as a sinner but not a disbeliever. The Islamic law has regarded idolatry by the non-Muslims as disbelief because it falls into a pattern of disbelief in their life-style. On the contrary, talking ill of Prophet Muhammad is in itself a disbelief, which leaves no chance of Islamic belief left in this case. I am not relying here basically on the difference that the Islamic community can by its unanimous decision forgive a worshipper of an idol but even one thousand Imams cannot and would not forgive a person, who talks ill of the Prophet of Islam.
Our Hanafi scholars of distinction like Imam Bazazi, Imam Ibnul Hammam, Allama Maula Khasrau the author of Dar Radd-E-Gharoor, Allama Zain bin Najeem, the author of Bahrar Raaiq and Ishbah Wan-N-Nazaair, Allama Umar bin Najeem author of Naharul Faaiq, Allama Abu Abdullah Muhammad bin Abdullah Ghazi, the author of Tanveer-ul-Absaar, Allama Khairuddin Ramli, the author of Fataawa Khairiyya, Allama Shaikh-Zada author of Majma-ul-Anher, Allama Mudaqaq Muhammad Ali Haskafi, the author of Durr-E- Mukhtar and many other prominent scholars have held this view (May Allah be pleased with all of them). (For further details and discussion on this point see my book "Fataawa-E-Rizwiyah").
It should be understood that the inability of forgiveness is limited only to the court of an Islamic ruler who is likely to give death sentence even after hearing the plea of forgiveness. On the other hand, if somebody seeks forgiveness sincerely and heartily it is acceptable in the court of Allah. There is a danger that these insolent people may put up an excuse that there is no point in seeking forgiveness because it cannot be granted and accepted. The correct position is that the disbelief will be obliterated; you will become a Muslim and get rid of the eternal confinement to Hell. To this extent there is unanimity amongst the Islamic scholars (see Rudd-ul Mukhtar and other books).
An illogical argument:
The third fraudulent argument of this disbelieving group is that the Islamic law states that a person, who has 99 things of disbelief and one thing of Islam in his personality, should not be described as a disbeliever.
Firstly, making this flimsy argument in this context is the worst and the weakest of all. If a person gives a call to prayer or performs a prayer of two Rakah once in the day and worships the idols, blows the clarions or rings the bells in the remaining part of the day for 99 times, he is by this definition a Muslim. Such a person is not a man of faith. Let alone faith, such a person cannot be described as a Muslim by a sensible man.
Secondly, in the light of this definition except the atheists, who deny the very existence of Allah, all other disbelievers, like Hindus, Christians, Jews etc, will have to be described as Muslims. They have one thing in common; they all believe in the existence of Allah. This one thing is one of the most important principles in Islam. The philosophically-inclined disbelievers, or Aryans or similar other people have their own concepts of the unity of, Allah. The Jews and Christians will have to be regarded as very distinguished Muslims because in addition to the unity of Allah they also believe in many of His Scriptures, thousands of His Prophets, the Dooms-day, and accountability on the final Day of Judgment, reward, and punishment, Heaven and Hell etc, most of these doctrines being in conformity with Islam.
Thirdly, the verses of the Holy Quran which have been quoted above are enough to refute this argument. It has been proved by these verses that despite reading the Kalima or offering prayers these insolent people are disbelievers. At one place Allah said "They have become disbelievers after embracing Islam, because they have made a particular statement." At another place Allah has said: "Make no excuses; you have become disbelievers after embracing Islam". According to this flimsy argument there should be more than 99 words of disbelief but Allah has declared them as disbelievers for only one word of disbelief. Perhaps the insolent people will answer that this is a mistake of Allah or He has been too hasty in restricting the sphere of Islam. They would blame that the followers of Qiblah and the readers of Kalima are being pushed out of Islam just for saying one word, and that they have not been given even the chance of making an excuse. Also, Allah did not consult some worshipper of nature or a lecturer from Nadwa or some other liberal Islamic reformer of their persuasion. "May the curse of Allah fall on the wrongdoers!”
Fourthly, the answer to this argument is: Your Allah Almighty says:
“So do you believe in part of the Scripture and disbelieve in part? Then what is the recompense for those who do that among you except disgrace in worldly life; and on the Day of Resurrection they will be sent back to the severest of punishment. And Allah is not unaware of what you do. Those are the ones who have bought the life of this world [in exchange] for the Hereafter, so the punishment will not be lightened for them, nor will they be aided.” (2:85-86)
"Suppose there are one thousand statements in the Holy Quran. The Islamic faith requires that every statement should be accepted. If somebody accepts 999 and does not accept only one, the glorious Quran says that he is not a Muslim for having accepted 999. The Qur'anic Command is that he is a disbeliever because he has not accepted one statement of Allah and he will suffer humiliation in this world and severe punishment in the Hereafter. This is the situation in accepting 999 and rejecting one; how can a person become a Muslim by accepting only one and rejecting 99 out of one hundred principles of faith. Obviously, this is not an Islamic creed. The Qur'anic evidence leads us to the conclusion that it is on its very face a clear disbelief.
Charge against Islamic scholars:
"Fifthly, as a matter of fact these insolent people have levelled this baseless charge against the Islamic scholars. The experts of the Islamic law have never given such a decision. The insolent people have acted like the Jews and changed the meanings by interpreting the statement out of its context. "The Jews change and interpret a statement out of Its context," says the Quran. The experts of law have not said that a man who has 99 acts of disbelief and one ad of Islam in his character is a Muslim. 0 Allah we seek your refuge from such a dreadful mischief! The truth, on the other hand, is that the entire Muslim community is agreed on the point that a person who has in his balance-sheet 99 000 statements of Islam and one statement of disbelief is certainly a disbeliever. In 99 drops of rose-water if you put one drop of urine, it will all become urine. But these ignorant people say that if you put one drop of rose-water into 99 drops of urine, the whole mixture will become pious and pure. Impossible.
"Let alone the Islamic scholars, even an ordinary, sensible person cannot make such a silly statement. Actually the experts of Islamic law have said that if a Muslim uses a word which has one hundred possible shades of meaning, and 99 shades of meaning go towards disbelief and one comes towards Islam, it would be fair not to call him a disbeliever, until it is proved that his intention was to express some shade of disbelief through this world. The logic behind this statement appeals to common sense. The experts want to give this Muslim the benefit of the doubt. At least, there is one shade of opinion which is Islamic. 1t is quite possible that he might have intended this one, and this view would go in his favour. However they have already made it clear that, if his intention was based on disbelief, in Allah's decision he will be a disbeliever." (Tamheed al-Iman, (The Preamble to faith) by Ala Hazrat Imam Ahmad Raza May Allah be pleased with him- English Translation)
Having read the above excerpts and other books of Ala Hazrat, I do not find that Ala Hazrat Imam Ahmad Raza was hasty in declaring a person Kaafir. He had a genuine theological and rational ground in matters of Kufr. He refuted those Takfiri ideologues who allowed killing Sufi-Sunni Muslims in Arab world or elsewhere and those who misinterpreted the Quran and Hadith. But it is sad that some Indian ulema blindly declare him takfiri. Alahazrat described India as ‘the abode of peace’, believing also that Jihad is defensive and not applicable in India, but unfortunately some fellows described him as “the agent of British”. It is enough to have patience here with the saying that no good person in the world is safe from being blamed. However, I should say that Sufi-Sunni minded Muslims must propagate the contributions of Ala Hazrat Imam Ahmed Raza in resolving the most serious issue of Al-wala wal-bara under the subject of Muwaalat and Muaamalat, promoting peaceful coexistence with non-Muslims, upholding human rights, tolerance, patience, piety in return for personal attacks, explaining concessions in religious matters to cope up with the newly rising problems and making sympathetic appeal for saving Muslim brothers from Kufr, with no use of violence.
13. “Ahmad Raza Khan Barelwi: In the Path of the Prophet” by Dr. Usha Sanyal PhD Colombo University, Oxford University, Press, New Delhi)
Ghulam Ghaus is an Alim and Fazil (Classical Islamic scholar) with a Sufi background. He has completed the classical Islamic sciences from a Delhi-based Sufi Islamic seminary Jamia Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia Zakir Nagar, New Delhi with specialization in Tafseer, Hadith and Arabic. He completed his Alimiat and Fazilat respectively from Jamia Warsia Arabic College, Lucknow and Jamia Manzar- e- Islam, Bareilly, U.P. He has graduated in Arabic (Hons) and is pursuing his M.A in Arabic from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.Email:firstname.lastname@example.org, Contact: 9810548313
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