Month: December 2009

Fatwa On Urs -Shah Abd al-Aziz al-Dehlawi

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As some of you have noticed, I have posted some material from our Akabir such as Shah Waliullah al-Dehlawi talking in a positive manner about the gatherings known as Urs (also called Hawl in other parts of the Muslim word).  It is clear that they were referring to gatherings free of any unlawful actions or transgressions against the sacred law, gathering such as these have existed from their time till the present day.  I came across the following legal verdict (fatwa) from Shah Abd al-Aziz al-Dehlawi on the topic which it is hoped will be of benefit.  We ask Allah (Most High) to enable us to post  in the future additional material we have collated on this topic:

My master Shah Abd al-Aziz al-Dehlawi said in his Fatawa Aziziyyah (1/38):

Visiting the graves after a year has three scenario’s:

i) After fixing a day one or two people, without it being gathering consisting of a large number of people, go out to the graves. Their aim is only to visit and seek forgiveness, this much is established from narrations. It is related in Dur Manthur that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) would each year visit the graves and pray for forgiveness for the inhabitants of the graves. This much is established and mustahab.

ii) In an organised gathering with many people congregating at the graves, they complete a recitation of the Quran and do Fatihah upon shirini or food which is then distributed amongst the common folk present. This kind of action was not present at the time of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) nor the rightly guided Khulafah (Allah be pleased with them all). If someone does this there is no harm, because this is not a bad action, rather from this the dead obtain benefit from the living.

iii) The gathering at the graves be in such a manner that people fix a time for gathering at the graves, wearing fine clothing and come as in the manner as if it were Eid. They are gathered at the graves for merriment. Dancing and musical instruments and other unlawful innovations such prostrating and circling graves are present, this third type is unlawful and prohibited, rather some of these matters reach the boundaries of disbelief. This is the meaning of these two hadith, ‘Do not make my grave a place of festivities’ this hadith is in Mishkat. And “O Allah do not make my grave an idol which is worshipped’, this hadith is also in Mishkat.

Categories: Fiqh

Jinn Students Of Knowledge

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My first hearing of Jinn students of knowledge was more than ten years ago, when during a lesson on Arabic grammar on a chilly autumn/winter night the door of the classroom creaked a little. Most of us looked back at the door which peeped out into the dark night, which suddenly became all the more unwelcoming due to this sudden sound. The teacher reassured us not to worry too much saying that throughout Islamic history there had been a number of Jinn scholars, and that perhaps we had been joined by one of them. The following account from our Akabir, namely Sayyidi Shah Waliullah al-Dehlawi in  the ‘Anfas al-Arifin’ reminded me of this point.

He (Shaykh Abd al-Rahim al-Dehlawi) said: In Akbarabad on the way back from the lesson of Mir Muhammad Zahid I happened to pass by the door of Sayyid Lutf Sawnpatti, I saw him at the door distressed. I asked him the reason and he said: I am embroiled in a strange affliction, saying this he took me in to the home. A jinn had possessed a female member of his family and seeing me he (K: whilst in the body of the woman) stood out of respect and gave salam.

I asked him: Who are you?

He replied: My name is Abdullah and I study in the lesson of Muhammad Tahir whilst being in a human form. The very day you entered Akbarabad and Muhammad Tahir along with his students went to greet you outside the city I was also amongst them. I know you very well however you do not know me.

I asked him: What do you study?

He replied: The section on Mafool Mutlaq in ‘Kafiyah’ where the author discusses labbayk wa sadayk.

I asked him: Explain the these two words in a grammatical way which students of knowledge would not be able to do. He proceeded to explain.

I said: I will interecede for you with Muhammad Tahir so that he may give you extra attention.

He replied: If he finds out that I am a Jinn then he will never teach me. Then he said: My routine is that I divide the night in to four parts, I pray in one part, in the second I practice nafi wa ithbat (K: A form of dhikr) the third part I revise the ‘Kafiyah’ in, and in the last part I rest. And for the whole day I stay with Muhammad Tahir. This woman by urinating at this place has made my area impure and has disturbed my routine, this is why I am giving her trouble.

He gave an order, and the area was immediately cleaned and perfumed. Due to this arrangement he…went away, at that very moment the woman became conscious and because of shame and shyness covered her face.

Categories: Other Scholarship

لا حول ولا قوة الا باللّه



‘The grass is always greener on the other side’ is an attitude which we can find our selves slowly drifting towards. Sometimes we need to step back and appreciate what we have and give thanks to The One who is the source of these blessings.

A few years back during a visit to Turkey I spent sometime near the area of Samsun with students of a Turkish Shaykh.  After every meal it was a practice of the students who had just eaten for one of them to stand and recite a prayer of thanks, the opening line which I will always remember being: Alhumdulillah Alhumdulillah, thumma thumma Alhumdulillah… Which could be translated roughly/literally as:  All praise is due to Allah, All praise is due to Allah, then, then ,All praise is due to Allah…

I came across the following in the wonderful Tafsir al-Mazhari, may Allah the Exalted allow us to benefit from it.

Qadi Thanaullah al-Uthmani said (9/322):

Benefit: The Mujaddid [K: Shaykh Ahmad al-Sirhindi] chose for the obtainment of benefit and repelling of religious and worldly harms the abundant invocation of لا حول ولا قوة الا باللّه (there is no strength nor power except through Allah). He specified the abundant recitation to be that it is recited daily 500 times, and that he before and after it sends salutations upon the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) 100 times.

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: ‘Whomever Allah has bestowed a blessing upon and he wishes for it to remain then he should abundantly recite لا حول ولا قوة الا باللّه. It was reported by al-Tabarani from the hadith of Uqbah bin Amir.

And in the two Sahih’s from Abu Mawla in a marfu form that ‘it is a treasure from the treasures of paradise’, and in the al-Nasai’s version it is: ‘Whomever recites لا حول ولا قوة الا باللّه it is a medicine for 99 diseases, the least of them is worry’.

Categories: Other

The Scholars Of Al-Ahsa And The Issue Of Bidah

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A New Book On The Issue Of Bidah


I recently came across the very useful work on innovation (bidah) by the Saudi Shafi jurist resident in al-Ahsa, Dr Abd al-Ilah al-Arfaj.  His work takes a novel and brave approach in tackling the subject, not least due to hostile elements within his homeland whom he is hoping to engage in dialogue.

One of the unique features of the work is the authors analysis of modern fatawa related to bidah which have been issued by respected figures of the Salafi movement such as Shaykhs: Ibn Baz, al-Uthaimin, al-Jibrin, al-Fawzan, Bakr Abu Zayd, al-Albani et al.  Through the examination of 20 issues around which fatawa by the above mentioned scholars have been issued he proceeds to identify some interesting findings.  We hope to share more on this in the future inshAllah, or perhaps hope for Shaykh Abd al-Ilah himself to enlighten us (as he speaks fluent English).

Three Ahsai Scholars Views

I will suffice here with three quotes from Ahsai scholars that the author cited in his work, all of these representing the majority (janhur) position on the understanding of bidah.  I have sufficed with these three as a number of people have expressed interest in knowing of the Ahsai scholars view on these issues.  What readers may also note is that the first two quotes deal specifically with the issue of an action not being performed by the early Muslims (Salaf) not necessitating it being labelled as a reprehensible innovation.  Shaykh Abd al-Ilah cited the following in his work (p.77-79)

Ahsai Hanbali Scholar On Loud Recitation Of Salawat After The Adhan

Shaykh Abdullah bin Fayruz al-Hanbali(d.1175) Allah have mercy on him was asked regarding the ruling of the loud reciting of Salat and Salam after the Adhan upon the minaret on the night of Friday, he replied:

Salat after the Adhan upon the minarets is not an innovation, because they -the callers to prayer- when they mention the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) do so after the Adhan from the minaret, and there is no innovation in this.

If it is supposed that the specification of this time -meaning after the Adhan-  in this place -meaning upon the minaret-  with Salat upon -the Master- of the chidren of Adnan (Allah bless him and give him peace)- is an innovation- as this ignoramus claims…Does he not know -meaning the critic- that innovation falls within five legal rulings, such as the authoring of books, recording of hadith, organising issues of language, history, narrator disparagement and authentication (jarh wa tadil), recording of language, tafsir and other than it…

Thus there is no harm in it (K:loud recitation of Salawat after the Adhan), rather in it are numerous benefits, from it is that everyone who hears it sends salat upon him, and from them are that he knows -meaning is reminded- of Friday night, thus the people are aware of it and know -meaning remember- its night, and send abundant Salat upon him (Allah bless him and give him peace).

Note: Shaykh Muhammad al-Saffarini al-Hanbali and Shaykh Abd al-Aziz al-Razini were also signatories to this fatwa which was authored around 1165 Hijri.

Ahsai Shafi Scholar On Loud Recitation Of Tahlil After Prayers

Shaykh Hussain bin Ahmad al-Dawsari al-Shafi Allah have mercy on him was a scholar from the 13th century Hijri.  In his answer to a question regarding the legal ruling of the ten tahlils (tahlilat al-ashr) after the prayer, and legal ruling of reciting them loudly he replied:

From the principles of the Madhab -meaning al-Shafi- is that every matter regarding which there is no prohibition it is permitted to do it.  All those who claim the unlawfulness of a matter or its being disliked and which has not been prohibited by Allah and His Messenger place themselves in great danger…

The intelligent one should not be deceived by understanding of some ignoramuses of his words (Allah bless him and give him peace): “Every newly invented matter is an innovation, and every innovation is misguidance”.  For these ignoramuses do not know what is meant by the words of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace), for if they knew they would understand that innovation is subdivided into five categories, and that this general hadith is specified by his (Allah bless him and give him peace) words:  “He who introduces is this matter of ours that which is not from it, it is rejected”.

And also by his (Allah bless him and give him peace) words: “He who inaugarates a good sunnah earns the reward of it and those who perform it till the Day of Judgement”.  Thus he (Allah bless him and give him peace) named that good which would be introduced after him as being sunnah.  Therefore every innovation which is not from the religion nor righteous actions is misguidance.

If we were to say:  Everything which has been introduced is an innovation of misguidance then the religion would be defunct.  This is because every book in our hands today is from the newly introduced matters, even Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, for the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) did not author any books, and it is not reported from any of his companions that they authored a book organised into chapters, thus all written books are a newly introduced innovation.

Rather even the Quran, al-Hajjaj-Ibn Yusuf- introduced into it that which the companions did not introduce (Allah be pleased with them all).  And al-Hajjaj was the most corrupt of the people of his time.  He was the one who divided the Quran into Juz’, and Ahzab and Ashar, and vowelled it.  Thus according to the claims of theses ignoramuses we should abandon books because they are a newly introduced innovation.  And we should abandon the Quran due to that which was introduced into it, or that it should be written without vowelling because its vowelling is an innovation, and if it were written without vowelling reading it would be difficult for the majority of the creation as most of them are common folk…

Ahsai Hanafi Scholar On Bidah Being Of Two Types

Shaykh Abu Bakr bin Muhammad al-Mulla al-Hanafi (d.1270) Allah have mercy on him said:

Know that the rulings of the sacred law are of two categories.  Principles (Usul) which are beliefs, and branches (Furu) which are the outward transactions.  Innovation in the principles (usul) is more severe than innovation in the branches…

The scholars have mentioned that innovation is subdivided into two categories.  One them is praiseworthy and the other is reprehensible.  Imam al-Shafi Allah have mercy on him said:  “Newly innovated matters are of two types, the first of them is the introduction of that which conflicts with the Quran, Sunnah, a narration or consensus, this is an innovation of misguidance.  Second: That which is introduced from the good, and there is no conflict of it with anyone one of these (meaning the Quran, Sunnah, a narration or consensus).  Thus this is a newly introduced matter which is not reprehensible.”

Categories: al-Ahsa Fiqh

Decline of Indian Sufism?



Reading through a passage the Anfas al-Arifin reminded me of observations and discussions which I had with some people over a period of time, I thought I would present some of these along with the passage which reminded me. [Photo above is said to be of the graves of Shah Abd al-Rahim, Shah Waliullah and Shah Abd al-Aziz al-Dehlawi all next to each other.  May Allah have mercy on them all and allow us to visit them]

Dumbing Down?

Some scholars have noted that the Darse Nizami programme which is widespread in the Indian subcontinent has gone through much change recently, and has been described by some as a “dumbing down’ of the curriculum.  One of the first casualties it appears was the detailed study of the Persian language which means that students are no longer able to directly access the rich corpus of works written in Persian, and have to rely (like myself) on translations.

Another casualty which has been identified of late are the subjects of: Philosophy, Mantiq, and in some Madaris: Aqidah. Not being a student of Madaris I cannot comment in greater detail, I am sure concerned able students/scholars who are familiar with the Madaris scene will discuss this in a productive manner.

Related to the above has been the noted decline in the science of internal purification, otherwise known as tasawwuf.  Speaking to friends who have studied in Madaris, and from personal observations (both of which I am not claiming to be exhaustive). When looking at the Indo-Pak subcontinent (and related communities in the West)  two main trends can be identified.

Two Types Of ‘Modern’ Sufi Shaykh

1) Young Dar al-Ulum graduates barely out of their teens who have been authorised as Sufi Shaykhs.  It is evident from their speech and responses to queries that their understanding of tasawwuf does not seem to go beyond a very simplistic understanding of this science.

2) Ignorant descendants/followers of famous Scholars of tasawwuf from the past who may be lax in the following of the Shariah and also have a simplistic understanding of the science which often involves ritualistic cultural practices.  Here the Shaykhs role is to eat, collect money and write tawiz.  You will often find in addition to this a shrine of a noble scholar which has been turned into a money making scheme.

The two categories above are trends and not all those who claim to be Sufi Shaykhs fit exactly into both.  Both of the two groups and a number of others not included in the above do not appear to have a grounding in the complex texts on tasawwuf which were studied in the past, nor appear familiar with the terminologies and spiritual exercises of the very sufi orders (turuq) that they aim to teach others.

Another negative effect has been the disillusioning of others from the science of tasawwuf, especially with category 2 above- whereas at least in category 1 the shariah is being followed and nothing unlawful is being committed, nor are innocent people being taken advantage of.

In light of the above please find a brief passage below from the Anfas al-Arifin of Sayyidi Shah Waliullah al-Dehlawi which gives a glimpse in to the way of our Akabir.  Indeed the whole of the Anfas al-Arifin is an amazing work which furnishes immense detail into the depth of mastery of our Akabir in the science of tasawwuf, and serves as a yardstick to measure contemporary claimants to the Waliullahi inheritance.

Please note: The above is not to deny the existence scholars within the Indo-Pak subcontinent (and related communities in the West) who are  firmly grounded in the science of tasawwuf, the above is a general observation and cannot be applied to everyone.

Shah Waliullah’s Study Of Tassawuf Texts

Sayyidi Shah Waliullah al-Dehlawi (Allah have mercy on him) writes in his  Anfas al-Arifin (p.181-182):

My respected father had great veneration of Shaykh Muhiy al-Din Ibn al-Arabi and would say: ‘If I wished I would explain the Fusus on the minbar and would to prove all of its issues with evidences from verses of the Quran and Hadith! And would explain in such a way that nobodies doubt would remain’.

However despite this he would refrain from openly mentioning the unity of existence (wahdat al-wujud) because most of the people of that time were unable to understand it, and by misunderstanding they would be embroiled in disbelief and heresy. Despite this precaution in some of his speeches the colour of wahdat al-wujud would shine through.

He would often encourage this needy one [Shah Waliullah] to study treatise on wahdat al-wujud, thus this needy one studied with deep contemplation and detail with Hazrat [Shah Abd al-Rahim] Lawaih, Sharh Rubaiyyat and Muqaddimah Sharh Lamaat. Some fellow students studied the Fusus with Hazrat [Shah Abd al-Rahim] and this needy one would sometimes join them.

Categories: Other