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Refuting Shaykh Thanvi’s Claim Made In Hifz ul-Iman, Ba-Wasta, Knowledge Cannot Be Ghayb And Deeming It So Is Shirk.

3 posts in this topic

Introduction:

Shaykh Thanvi of Deobandi sect wrote knowledge which is gained through another cannot be deemed Ilm al-Ghayb and this belief is need of evidential support. Muslims believe knowledge which reaches through means of another, such as Jibraeel (alayhis salam), is also Ghayb. And Deobandi Shaykh also stated to say a creation has knowledge of Ghayb is prohibited because due to absence of evidence there is danger of falling into Shirk by attributing knowledge of Ghayb to a creation. We Muslims believe Shirk does not become Tawheed by presence or Tawheed become Shirk due to absence evidence. Rather what is Shirk will remain Shirk even if there was evidence and Tawheed would remain Tawheed if there was no evidence. Also to establish that Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) granted Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) the knowledge of Ghayb and to attribute Ilm al-Ghayb to beloved Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) is not Shirk there is danger of Shirk nor it is prohibited.

Question Asked Bakr And Answer Given By Shaykh Thanvi:

Q: “A certain individual, Amr, stated prostration is of two types, worship, respect, and when on to state Amr believes prostration of respect for other then Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) is permissible. And believes Tawaf (i.e. circumbulation) around the graves (of Awliyah-Allah) is permissible. Evidence of permissibility … Amr also stated Ilm al-Ghayb is bil-Zaat[1] (i.e. of Self), in this meaning only Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) is Aalim ul-Ghayb (i.e. Knower Of Ghayb). And ba-wasta (i.e. with means) and in this meaning RasoolAllah (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) was Aalim ul-Ghayb. How is Amr’s this evidence (and what is legal ruling on Amr’s) these actions and belief?” [Ref: Hifz ul-Iman, by Shaykh Ashraf Ali Thanvi, Page2, here] A: “Shar’ri application of mutliq Ghayb[2] (i.e. boundless Ghayb) is upon Ghayb which cannot be established by evidence and for which there is no mean or way of its comprehension. On this (stated) foundation it has stated: "None in the heavens and earth knows the unseen except Allah …” (27:65) and: “And if I knew the unseen, I could have …” (7:188) And knowledge which is via means; on this (type of knowledge) application of (word) Ghayb is need of qarina (i.e. evidential support). Then attributing Ilm Ghayb to creation, without supporting evidence, due to danger of Shirk is prohibited and impermissible.” [Ref: Hifz ul-Iman, by Shaykh Ashraf Ali Thanvi, Page14, here]

The Erroneous Foundation Of Shaykh Thanvi:

Generally it is believed all that is seen, or heard, touched, … cannot be Ghayb and all that is heard from another cannot be Ghayb. Shaykh Thanvi has based his following statement on the mentioned point: “And knowledge which is via means; on this (type of knowledge) application of (word) Ghayb is need of qarina (i.e. evidential support).” Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) granted Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aaalihi was’sallam) knowledge of Ghayb through angels. Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) stated: “(Allah, He is) Knower of the unseen, and He does not disclose His Ghayb to anyone. Except whom He has approved of messengers, and indeed, He sends before each messenger and behind him observers.” [Ref: 72:26/27] There are other verses but one will suffice just as many. Note implication of the verse is when it reaches to His Messenger it is still Ghayb even though it has come through Jibraeel (alayhis salam). If being delivered by another is reason Ilm al-Ghayb is not Ilm al-Ghayb then should Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) have said that He reveals His Ghayb to a chosen Messenger? Alhasil in sight of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) knowledge sent via Jibraeel (alayhis salam) to Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) is still al-Ghayb. And Shaykh Thanvi can go to hell to convince a believer of truthfulness his position but Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) has decided the matter for believers. Note not all knowledge of Ghayb of RasoolAllah (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) was through Jibraeel (alayhis salam) in form of Wahi. Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) saw paradise and heard its sounds and tortures of grave. Therefore to negate Ilm al-Ghayb is senseless. And application of Ghayb for knowledge of RasoolAllah (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) is established.

Refuting Notion; Seeing, Hearing, Informed Of Something Is Not Ghayb:

Of course whatever has been seen, or heard, or one is informed of is not Ghayb in normal sense. Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) saw hell and paradise, saw Musa (alayhis salam) performing Salah in his heavenly resting place. He had to see, hear, and get informed by Gibraeel (alayhis salam) to know Ghayb. For Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) to have knowledge of Ghayb the Ghayb had to be disclosed to his sight, hearing, and had to be informed. When the Muslims say Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) has been granted the knowledge of Ghayb it is not because Ghayb is Ghayb from Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) but it is Ghayb from mankind. All that is Ghayb for mankind; such as paradise, hell and punishment of grave, this Ghayb is known to Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallma). Meaning Ghayb knowledge of RasoolAllah (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) is not Ghayb from him but Ghayb from rest of mankind. And that which was Ghayb from mankind; was known, seen, and heard by Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam). This explains why Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) called Wahi delievered via Jibraeel (alayhis salam) as Ghayb. Its not Ghayb from Jibraeel (alayhis salam) and not Ghayb from Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam). Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) referred to it as Ghayb because Wahi was Ghayb from all mankind in his life time. Alhasil there is no reason to disbelieve in prophetic knowledge of Ghayb or to attribute Ghayb to Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam).

Without Evidence There Is Danger Of Shirk:

Shaykh Thanvi wrote: “Then attributing Ilm Ghayb to creation, without supporting evidence, due to danger of Shirk is prohibited and impermissible.” In other words Shaykh Thanvi’s belief is in absence of evidence there is danger of committing Shirk if one attributes knowledge of Ghayb to RasoolAllah (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) therefore it is not permitted to attribute Ilm al-Ghayb to RasoolAllah (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam).[3] Readers should note Shaykh Thanvi’s reasoning is; lack of evidence leads to danger of Shirk, and danger of Shirk leads to prohibition of attributing Ilm al-Ghayb to Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam). Please note evidence refuting Shaykh’s prohibitive injunction has been already presented and discussed. Muslims believe presence and absence of evidence for a belief does not make it Tawheed or Shirk. Suppose if Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) willed to have a son/daughter. And Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) mentioned this in Quran saying I have a son. Will the presence of evidence for Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) having a son make believing in son of Allah a Tawheedi belief? No! Because attributing a partner, son, father, mother, daughter, and wife is all Shirk and even if there was a verse in Quran instructing us to believe in son of Allah it still would be Shirk. The only difference would be that in current Islam Shirk is sin and punishable by eternal fire. In hypothetical context refusing to believe in Shirki belief of Allah having a son would be punishable. Tawheed and Shirk could have become part of Islam but presence or absence of evidence for one or the other would not have turned one into the other. Fundamentally Tawheed is to believe Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) is the One, and the Only Ilah (i.e. God). And Shirk is to believe there are other Ilahs (i.e. gods) beside Him. Attributing Ilm al-Ghayb does not mean one believes RasoolAllah (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) is a god beside Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala). And this is true on basic level of Tawheed and Shirk mentioned in the section and for in-depth level. If there was no evidence for attributing Ilm al-Ghayb to RasoolAllah (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) at worst one would be guilty of reprehensible innovation but nothing more. It seems Shaykh Thanvi had defective understanding of Tawheed and Shirk or at the very least didn’t properly understand how Shirk is warranted.

Conclusion:

Presence of evidence for Ilm al-Ghayb of RasoolAllah (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) or its absence will not make it Tawheed or Shirk because Tawheed and Shirk are not dependent upon existence or non-existance of evidence in Quran/Hadith. Shirk is attributing a god/gods partners with Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) and not having proof for attributing Ilm al-Ghayb to RasoolAllah (sallallahu alayhi  wa aalihi was’sallam) has nothing to do with it. Knowledge of Ghayb received through another and means of eyes, ears, is termed Ghayb because it is Ghayb from mankind. And RasoolAllah (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) knows Ghayb which was Ghayb for mankind. Textually Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) called the Wahi Ghayb even when it was being sent through Gibraeel (alayhis salam) which is further proof that Ghayb exposed to hearing, seeing of another (i.e. Gibraeel alayhis salam) and received via another is still Ilm al-Ghayb.

Wama alayna ilal balaghul mubeen.
Muhammed Ali Razavi

FootNotes:

- [1] Bil-Zaat (read, biz-Zaat) knowledge of Ghayb, in Urdu Zaati, knowledge is which is inheritently part of someones knowledge and not been granted to person by another or via gained via means. Bil-Zaat is unique for Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala).

- [2] Mutliq knowledge of Ghayb, ghayr muntahi (i.e. limitless) referrs to limitless knowledge of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala). It is inclusive of all that has happened, is happening, will happen, and is inclusive of limitless knowledge of possibilities (i.e. Mumkinaat).

- [3] From his belief it can be assumed that he believes if there was/is evidence supporting Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) has knowledge of Ghayb then there would be no danger of Shirk hence it would be permissible to say RasoolAllah (sallallahua layhi wa aalihi was’sallam) has knowledge of Ghayb.

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Updated.

Refuting Shaykh Thanvi’s Claim Made In Hifz ul-Iman, Ba-Wasta, Knowledge Cannot Be Ghayb And Deeming It So Is Shirk.


Introduction:

Shaykh Thanvi of Deobandi sect wrote knowledge which is gained through another cannot be deemed Ilm al-Ghayb and this belief is need of evidential support. Muslims believe knowledge which reaches through means of another, such as Jibraeel (alayhis salam), is also Ghayb. And Deobandi Shaykh also stated to say a creation has knowledge of Ghayb is prohibited because due to absence of evidence there is danger of falling into Shirk by attributing knowledge of Ghayb to a creation. We Muslims believe Shirk does not become Tawheed by presence or Tawheed become Shirk due to absence evidence. Rather what is Shirk will remain Shirk even if there was evidence and Tawheed would remain Tawheed if there was no evidence. Also to establish that Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) granted Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) the knowledge of Ghayb and to attribute Ilm al-Ghayb to beloved Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) is not Shirk there is danger of Shirk nor it is prohibited.

Question Asked Bakr And Answer Given By Shaykh Thanvi:

Q: “A certain individual, Amr, stated prostration is of two types, worship, respect, and when on to state Amr believes prostration of respect for other then Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) is permissible. And believes Tawaf (i.e. circumbulation) around the graves (of Awliyah-Allah) is permissible. Evidence of permissibility … Amr also stated Ilm al-Ghayb is bil-Zaat[1] (i.e. of Self), in this meaning only Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) is Aalim ul-Ghayb (i.e. Knower Of Ghayb). And ba-wasta (i.e. with means) and in this meaning RasoolAllah (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) was Aalim ul-Ghayb. How is Amr’s this evidence (and what is legal ruling on Amr’s) these actions and belief?” [Ref: Hifz ul-Iman, by Shaykh Ashraf Ali Thanvi, Page2, here] A: Shar’ri application of mutliq Ghayb[2] (i.e. boundless Ghayb) is upon Ghayb which cannot be established by evidence and for which there is no mean or way of its comprehension. On this (stated) foundation it has stated: "None in the heavens and earth knows the unseen except Allah …” (27:65) and: “And if I knew the unseen, I could have …” (7:188) And knowledge which is via means; on this (type of knowledge) application of (word) Ghayb is need of qarina (i.e. evidential support). Then attributing Ilm Ghayb to creation, without supporting evidence, due to danger of Shirk is prohibited and impermissible.” [Ref: Hifz ul-Iman, by Shaykh Ashraf Ali Thanvi, Page14, here]

The Erroneous Foundation Of Shaykh Thanvi:

Generally it is believed all that is seen, or heard, touched, … cannot be Ghayb and all that is heard from another cannot be Ghayb. Shaykh Thanvi has based his following statement on the mentioned point: And knowledge which is via means; on this (type of knowledge) application of (word) Ghayb is need of qarina (i.e. evidential support).” Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) granted Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aaalihi was’sallam) knowledge of Ghayb through angels. Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) stated: “(Allah, He is) Knower of the unseen, and He does not disclose His Ghayb to anyone. Except whom He has approved of messengers, and indeed, He sends before each messenger and behind him observers.” [Ref: 72:26/27] There are other verses but one will suffice just as many. Note implication of the verse is when it reaches to His Messenger it is still Ghayb even though it has come through Jibraeel (alayhis salam). If being delivered by another is reason Ilm al-Ghayb is not Ilm al-Ghayb then should Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) have said that He reveals His Ghayb to a chosen Messenger? Alhasil in sight of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) knowledge sent via Jibraeel (alayhis salam) to Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) is still al-Ghayb. And Shaykh Thanvi can go to hell to convince a believer of truthfulness his position but Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) has decided the matter for believers. Note not all knowledge of Ghayb of RasoolAllah (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) was through Jibraeel (alayhis salam) in form of Wahi. Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) saw paradise and heard its sounds and tortures of grave. Therefore to negate Ilm al-Ghayb is senseless. And application of Ghayb for knowledge of RasoolAllah (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) is established.

Refuting Notion; Seeing, Hearing, Informed Of Something Is Not Ghayb:

Of course whatever has been seen, or heard, or one is informed of is not Ghayb in normal sense. Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) saw hell and paradise, saw Musa (alayhis salam) performing Salah in his heavenly resting place. He had to see, hear, and get informed by Gibraeel (alayhis salam) to know Ghayb. For Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) to have knowledge of Ghayb the Ghayb had to be disclosed to his sight, hearing, and had to be informed. When the Muslims say Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) has been granted the knowledge of Ghayb it is not because Ghayb is Ghayb from Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) but it is Ghayb from mankind. All that is Ghayb for mankind; such as paradise, hell and punishment of grave, this Ghayb is known to Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallma). Meaning Ghayb knowledge of RasoolAllah (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) is not Ghayb from him but Ghayb from rest of mankind. And that which was Ghayb from mankind; was known, seen, and heard by Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam). This explains why Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) called Wahi delievered via Jibraeel (alayhis salam) as Ghayb. Its not Ghayb from Jibraeel (alayhis salam) and not Ghayb from Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam). Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) referred to it as Ghayb because Wahi was Ghayb from all mankind in his life time. Alhasil there is no reason to disbelieve in prophetic knowledge of Ghayb or to attribute Ghayb to Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam).

Without Evidence There Is Danger Of Shirk:

Shaykh Thanvi wrote: “Then attributing Ilm Ghayb to creation, without supporting evidence, due to danger of Shirk is prohibited and impermissible.” In other words Shaykh Thanvi’s belief is in absence of evidence there is danger of committing Shirk if one attributes knowledge of Ghayb to RasoolAllah (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) therefore it is not permitted to attribute Ilm al-Ghayb to RasoolAllah (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam).[3] Readers should note Shaykh Thanvi’s reasoning is; lack of evidence leads to danger of Shirk, and danger of Shirk leads to prohibition of attributing Ilm al-Ghayb to Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam). Please note evidence refuting Shaykh’s prohibitive injunction has been already presented and discussed. Muslims believe presence and absence of evidence for a belief does not make it Tawheed or Shirk. Suppose if Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) willed to have a son/daughter. And Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) mentioned this in Quran saying I have a son. Will the presence of evidence for Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) having a son make believing in son of Allah a Tawheedi belief? No! Because attributing a partner, son, father, mother, daughter, and wife is all Shirk and even if there was a verse in Quran instructing us to believe in son of Allah it still would be Shirk. The only difference would be that in current Islam Shirk is sin and punishable by eternal fire. In hypothetical context refusing to believe in Shirki belief of Allah having a son would be punishable. Tawheed and Shirk could have become part of Islam but presence or absence of evidence for one or the other would not have turned one into the other. Fundamentally Tawheed is to believe Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) is the One, and the Only Ilah (i.e. God). And Shirk is to believe there are other Ilahs (i.e. gods) beside Him. Attributing Ilm al-Ghayb does not mean one believes RasoolAllah (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) is a god beside Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala). And this is true on basic level of Tawheed and Shirk mentioned in the section and for in-depth level. If there was no evidence for attributing Ilm al-Ghayb to RasoolAllah (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) at worst one would be guilty of reprehensible innovation but nothing more. It seems Shaykh Thanvi had defective understanding of Tawheed and Shirk or at the very least didn’t properly understand how Shirk is warranted.

Conclusion:

Presence of evidence for Ilm al-Ghayb of RasoolAllah (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) or its absence will not make it Tawheed or Shirk because Tawheed and Shirk are not dependent upon existence or non-existance of evidence in Quran/Hadith. Shirk is attributing a god/gods partners with Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) and not having proof for attributing Ilm al-Ghayb to RasoolAllah (sallallahu alayhi  wa aalihi was’sallam) has nothing to do with it. Knowledge of Ghayb received through another and means of eyes, ears, is termed Ghayb because it is Ghayb from mankind. And RasoolAllah (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) knows Ghayb which was Ghayb for mankind. Textually Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) called the Wahi Ghayb even when it was being sent through Gibraeel (alayhis salam) which is further proof that Ghayb exposed to hearing, seeing of another (i.e. Gibraeel alayhis salam) and received via another is still Ilm al-Ghayb.

Wama alayna ilal balaghul mubeen.
Muhammed Ali Razavi

FootNotes:

- [1] Bil-Zaat (read, biz-Zaat) knowledge of Ghayb, in Urdu Zaati, knowledge is which is inheritently part of someones knowledge and not been granted to person by another or via gained via means. Bil-Zaat is unique for Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala).

- [2] Mutliq knowledge of Ghayb, ghayr muntahi (i.e. limitless) referrs to limitless knowledge of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala). It is inclusive of all that has happened, is happening, will happen, and is inclusive of limitless knowledge of possibilities (i.e. Mumkinaat).

- [3] From his belief it can be assumed that he believes if there was/is evidence supporting Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) has knowledge of Ghayb then there would be no danger of Shirk hence it would be permissible to say RasoolAllah (sallallahua layhi wa aalihi was’sallam) has knowledge of Ghayb.

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I have made improvements to translation of Hifz ul-Iman. I noted did not translate an important part ... and some structural modifications were made to ensure it is closer to original Urdu:

  “A certain individual, Zayd, stated prostration is of two types, worship, respect, and when on to state Amr believes prostration of respect for other then Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) is permissible. And believes Tawaf (i.e. circumbulation) around the graves (of Awliyah-Allah) is permissible. Evidence of permissibility … And says Ilm Al-Ghayb is of two types: bil-Zaat [of one’s ownself]; in this meaning only Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) is Aalim ul-Ghayb, none else. And ba-wasta [through means, alternative; bil-Ardh; granted by another] and in this meaning RasoolAllah (sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi was’sallam) was Aalim ul-Ghayb. How is Amr’s this evidence (and what is legal ruling on Amr’s) these actions and belief? [Ref: Hifz ul-Iman, by Shaykh Ashraf Ali Thanvi, Page2, here]

The underlinned parts were improved

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