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Ten fatwas from the great Islamic scholar of India, Ahmad Rida

Khan Barilawi

59 - Of the great 'ulama' in India, Ahmad Rida Khan Barilawi, in his fatwa
book Fatawal-Haramain, answers twenty-eight questions. All of these fatwas
are in conformity with the knowledge of the Ahl as-Sunnat 'ulama'. Ten of
these fatwas are given below for their auspiciousness:

Question 1: "The British spies in India, who call themselves 'Nayashira'.

They believe that Jabrail ('alaihi 's-salam), angels, genies, the Satan,
heavens, the mujiza of Miraj, Hell and Paradise exist and that bodies will get
alive again as Muslims believe. Yet they give false meanings to the ayats
that deal with these subjects, as some of the people called Batiniyya do.
They say that these things are not made of matter but they are conceptual
and imaginative. They say that nothing can exist outside customs and
physical laws. Thus they deny that Allahu ta'ala can create many things
outside the laws of nature. They do not believe in mujizat, and they explain
them away according to what they see and learn in nature. They say that it
is haram and cruelty to use as slaves the captives taken from among non-
Muslims in the jihad performed for spreading Allah's religion and that it is a
thing done by the savage. Though it was defined in all heavenly religions,
they claim that Allah has not commanded it. They do not believe any of the
tafsir and hadith books. They claim that all their contents have been
invented by 'ulama. They say, 'The Qur'an remains the sole truth in our
hands. We interpret the Qur'an according to our new information. We do not
believe what the early Muslims understood from it or what has reached us
from them.' Can those who say so be called 'Muslims' or 'Ahl al-Qibla' even if
they say that they are Muslim, utter kalimat ash-shahada and perform salat
towards the qibla? Moreover, these spies claim that they themselves are the
real Muslims and that what they tell is the pure Islamic religion. Shall we call
them 'Muslim' or 'non-Muslim'? Shall we consider their words as wrong and

Answer 1: They are not sincere at all. I swear by Allah, they have no
connection with Islam. They are enemies of Islam fed by the British. They
are the worst of non-Muslims and murtads, because they deny the things
that are known to be indispensable in religion. Their saying kalimat ash-
shahada and professing that the Kaba is the qibla do not show their being
believers or Ahl al-qibla. None of the 'ulama' and books of itiqad and fiqh has
permitted alteration of the indispensable, apparent and open religious
Question 2: "It is understood that they are British spies. What would you say
about those who, after understanding their teachings and heresy, call them
Muslims, or even regard them as 'ulama' of Islam and authorities on religion,
or praise them with the terms that have not been used for the superiors of
Islam yet, and, by mentioning their names, say, 'They are the elect of our
time. Their books are invaluable for the youth. Their writings prove their
quality of perfection. They are the pillars of our religion and the guards of
Islam?' What would you say about those who praise them as such, write,
publish and advertise their books as the 'books of superiors of religion'?"

Answer 2: One who does not believe in one of the things indispensable in
Islam becomes a kafir. One who has suspicion of such a person's not being a
kafir and in that he will not be punished in Hell eternally is a kafir, too. That
the latter, too, is a kafir is openly written in the books Bazaziyya, Durr al-
mukhtar, Qadi Iyad's Shifa, Imam an-Nawawi's Rawda and Ibn Hajar al-
Makki's Al-alam. It has been unanimously declared by the 'ulama' of Islam
that it also makes one kafir to have doubt that it is infidelity (kufr) if
somebody does not regard a Christian, a Jew or a dissenter from Islam as a
kafir. This unanimity is written in the above-mentioned books. While one
become a kafir out of doubting in the other's being a kafir, it should be
pondered well how the one who regards him as a Muslim or, even, praises
him with the terms reserved for the 'ulama' of Islam will be. From these
words of ours, we should understand well the situation of those who consider
such people as 'ulama' of Islam and praise and spread their speeches and
writings filled with kufr. Praise or effort to disseminate or to advertise shows
consent and love. Consent to kufr causes kufr. Consent to kufr does not
mean to want the kafir to remain in kufr but to love his kufr.

Question 3: "What does 'ahl al-bidat' mean?"

Answer 3: If the cause of an innovator's dissent from Ahl as-Sunnat is his

belief in the superiority of 'Ali over Abu Bakr and 'Umar (radi-Allahu
'anhum), he is of ahl al-bidat as it is written in Hulasa, Hindiyya and many
other invaluable books. The one who does not believe in the khilafat
(caliphate) of one or both of the latter two caliphs was said to be a kafir by
the 'ulama' of fiqh and to be a man of bidat by the 'ulama' of kalam. For the
sake of precaution, the term 'man of bidat' should be used for them. One
absolutely becomes a kafir if says that Allahu ta'ala is a creature, or that the
present Qur'an al-karim is deficient and contains alterations of as-Sahabat
al-kiram and of later times, or that 'Ali (radi-Allahu 'anh) or one of the
Twelve Imams is superior to prophets. It is written in Hindiyya, Zahiriyya,
Al-Hadiqat an-nadiyya and in fiqh books that he will be treated as a murtad.
There is detailed information on this subject in the book Makalat al-
mufassira an ahkami 'l-bidati 'l-mukaffira. [Ibn Abidin wrote 'unlawful
betrothal' in Radd al-muhtar: "If one worships Ali (radi-Allahu anh) or says,
'Jabrail was ordered to reveal the Qur'an to Ali, but he mistook and revealed
it to Muhammad,' or 'Abu Bakr was not a sahabi,' or Hadrat A'isha
committed adultery,' he becomes a kafir. If he says that 'Ali (radi-Allahu
anh) superior to the two caliphs, or curses or slanders at a sahabi, he
becomes a man of bid'a." In the third volume, he wrote: "If one curses at or
damns the two caliphs, he becomes a kafir. Though those people called
Durziz, Mulhids and Isma'ilis carry out the five fundamentals of Islam, they
become kafirs because of their belief in transmigration of the soul and by
regarding wine and intercourse as halal and giving false meanings to ayats."
Ibn Abidin, in his book Uqud ad-duriyya, quoted Shaikh al-Islam Abdullah
Effendi's extensive fatwa about the Shi'ites and reveals those who fell in kufr
among them.]

Question 4: "What would say about those who praise the people called
'Batiniyya' with the words the 'stars of knowledge,' 'suns of 'ulama',' 'great
alim of our time,' or 'guide of the century' and about those who believe
these words?"

Answer 4: If they know that they praise those declared to be murtads, they
also become murtads. Even if those praised are not murtads, it is apparent
that it is ugly and bad to praise them. The hadith as-Sharif reported from
Anas ibn Malik (radi-Allahu 'anh) by Ibn Abi 'd-dunya, Abu Yala and al-
Baihaki and from Abu Huraira (radi-Allahu 'anh) by Ibn 'Adi says: "When a
sinner (fasiq) is praised, our Rabb's indignation arouses." Permitting such
praises or disseminating or advertising them shows consent to them.
Consent to evils is also evil. [It is heard that some people admire the
religious and political movement of, and praise the personality of, Humaini of
Iran who is understood to be an enemy to as-Sahaba and to the whole of Ahl
as-Sunna. They should carefully read this hadith and fatwa, get lesson from
them and wake up from unawareness.]

Question 5: "What would you say about some people's saying that Allahu
ta'ala and His Prophet ('alaihi 's-salam) may lie?"

Answer 5: Lying is a deficiency and ugliness. It has been unanimously

declared that there is no ugly thing attributable to Allahu ta'ala or His Rasul
('alaihi 's-salam). This is dealt in detail in my book Subhana 's-subbuh an
'aybi kazbin makbuh, wherein I gave documents from the 'ulama' of kalam
and tafsir. In many books by Arab and Persian 'ulama', it is written that
those who say so have dissented from the right path and that they are
heretics. The book Ad-durar as-saniyya by Hadrat 'Allama Ahmad ibn Zain
ibn Dahlan al-Makki, who was one of my masters in hadith, tells in detail
about their heresies and gives, from Hadrat Mawlana Abu 's-su'ud, the Mufti
of al-Madinat al-munawwara, passages refuting them. They have been
caught by the Satan's current and become soldiers to the Satan. The soldiers
of the Satan will certainly be ruined.

Question 6: "We nowadays see upstart people who are called 'Ghair al-
muqallidin,' that is non-or la-madhhabite people. They neither follow any of
the four madhhabs nor let anybody follow one of them. They call themselves
ahl al-hadith. They say that they follow only the Hadith. We see that some
ignorant people, who are deprived of religious education and cannot
differentiate the truth from the wrong and the straight from the crooked,
pass themselves for authorities on religion after learning some Arabic in
Egypt, the Hijaz, Iraq or in Damascus and write books on religion. What
would you say about them and their books?"

Answer 6: In the subject on 'Zabayih' in the marginalia of Durr al-mukhtar,

'Allama Sayyid Ahmad at-Tahtawi, one of the 'ulama of the Hanafi madhhab,
writes: "One who departs from the path of the 'ulama' of fiqh, from as-siwad
al-azam, will have directed himself to Hell. Oh Muslims! Therefore, hold fast
to the path of Ahl as-Sunnat wal-Jamaat which is called 'al-firqat an-najiyya'
(group of Salvation), the unique group reported by our Prophet ('alaihi 's-
salam) to be saved from Hell! Because, Allahu ta'ala's help, protection and
taking to bliss are only for those who are on this path. Allahu ta'ala's Ghadab
(Wrath) and adhab (torture) are for those who dissent from this path.
Today, this firqat najiyya has gathered in the four madhhabs, namely,
Hanafi, Shafi'i, Maliki and Hanbali. One who does not belong to any of these
four madhhabs is a man of bidat or a man for Hell [heretic or unbeliever]."
Great Imam Sufyan ath-Thawri (radi Allahu 'anh) said, "If one who is not an
alim in fiqh tries to adapt his affairs to hadiths, he leads himself to heresy."
Great Imam Ibn al-Hajj al-Makki said the same in his work Al-mad'hal. My
fatwas about and articles on the la-madhhabi are available in my book Al-
barikat ash-sharika 'ala marikat al-musharika.

Question 7: "Some people say, 'The la-madhhabi belong to Ahl As-Sunnat

and are even licensed authorities on religion. They differ from Ahl as-Sunnat
only in insignificant teachings, and this difference is beneficial as that
between the Hanafi, Shafi'i and Maliki madhhabs, thus they help the religion
of Islam. Should not the la-madhhabi, therefore be considered as those in
the Hanafi and Shafi'i madhhabs and should not we know them as Islamic
brothers and love heartfully and respect them? Isn't it the way of those
intoxicated with love for Allahu ta'ala to do one's affairs according to hadiths
though one is not a mujtahid? Didn't Abu Dharr al-Ghaffari (radi-Allahu
'anh), a Sahabi, act upon the hadith, "Do not save your properties to make
them kanz, a treasure"?' What would you say about those who say these
about the la-madhhabi?"
Answer 7: These words are not correct at all. The person who says these
becomes one among them, even one worse than them. How could a man of
bidat be respected? The hadith reported from 'Abdullah ibn Bashir (radi-
Allahu 'anh) by at-Tabarani says, "One who respects the man of bidat will
have helped in the annihilation of Islam." Another hadith, reported from
Muaz (radi-Allahu 'anh) in Kabir by at-Tabarani and in Hilya by Abu Nuaym,
says, "One who walks to show respect for the man of bidat has helped in
destroying Islam." There are many similar hadiths. It is dalala, heresy, for
those not promoted to the status of mujtahid not to follow one of the four
madhhabs but to do one's worship and affairs according to what he
understands from hadiths. It is dissention from the believers' path. Allahu
ta'ala declares in the 43rd ayat of the surat an-Nahl, "Ask what you do not
know from the people of dhikr!" A hadith reported from Jabir ibn 'Abdullah
(radi-Allahu 'anh) by Abu Dawud says, "Ask what you do not know. Medicine
for ignorance is inquiry." These ayat and hadith command those who do not
know to learn by asking those who know. As it is concluded from this, those
who speak about the la-madhhabi as quoted above or who admit and believe
their words, in fact, belong to the la-madhhabi, being partners to them in

Question 8: "In the last two years, this kind of people have multiplied in
India. An organization named 'Nadwat ul-ulama' has been founded in claim
of service to Islam and to awaken Muslims. Here, every kind of people and
those with heretical beliefs have gathered, and la-madhhabi people,
including a few belonging to Ahl as-Sunnat, have taken hold of high chairs.
What would you say about this?"

Answer 8: This behavior of them is haram and heretical. It is intended to

estrange Muslims with little knowledge from their madhhabs. Such Muslims,
upon seeing heretical men of religion in cooperation with Ahl as-Sunnat
scholars all sitting at the same line of chairs, think of those heretics also as
respectful and beneficial. They begin to show respect for them, which is
sinful. Islamic religion commands humiliation and severe treatment of the
men of bidat and forbids showing respect to them. In 'aqa'id books, for
example, in Sharh al-maqasid, the 'ulama' of Islam wrote, "It is necessary to
treat severely, to humiliate, to refute and to expel the men of bidat." When
Muslims see them at high ranks, their hearts incline to listen to them and,
with the Satan's cheating, begin to love them. In actual fact, those who
cooperate with the men of bidat cause the dissention of them from the right
path. Gathering of people with different beliefs results in the destruction of
the religion. Those who say that they will wake up Muslims, in fact, try to
poison them and lead them to disaster.
Question 9: "The aim in the establishment of this organization, Nadwa, has
been asserted to be the abolition of the difference between the Sunni and
other groups of bidat. 'They should not refuse one another's beliefs, but live
brotherly. 'Ulama' should not speak or write on the beliefs in disagreement
among themselves. Or else, they set a bad example to be copied by all
Muslims and their disciples. Difference and argument cause perishing and
stem from the desires of nafs and self-esteem,' they say. Are these words
right or wrong or excessive?"

Answer 9: When a bidat gets spread, it is fard to refute it and to try to

disseminate its harmfulness and wickedness. That this is fard has been
unanimously declared by the 'ulama' of Islam. Salaf as-Salihin and the
'ulama of all times up to now have always opposed bidat in this way. One
who does not refuse the men of bidat but let them by themselves will have
dissented from Muslims' unanimity, got away from the Islamic jamaat and
loved bidats and offenders of bidat. And this means to discredit the Ahl as-
Sunnat madhhab and the Muslims of this right path; to forbid the
established reason and to command the prohibition; to lead Muslims to
Allahu ta'ala's damnation. Great alim Hadrat Ahmad ibn Hajar al-Makki, the
imam of Muslims, said in the preface to his work As-sawa'iq al-muhriqa,
"Though I do not have the profound knowledge to comprehend the reality
and essence of the writings in this book, I was inclined to write because of
the following hadith ash-Sharif reported in Al-Jami' by Khatib al-Baghdadi:
'When seditions and bidats spread and my Sahaba are slandered, those who
know the reality shall declare what they know! May those who do not declare
what they know be damned by Allahu ta'ala, by angels and by all people!
Allahu ta'ala does not accept any of their 'ibadat and goodness.' " The
statement, "Telling what one knows causes disunion, is sinful and is self-
destruction," is a slander against Allahu ta'ala and Islamic 'ulama',
dissention from the Ahl as-Sunnat madhhab and denial or prohibition of an
important fard.

Question 10: "They say, 'The most important aim of Nadwa is to annihilate
the differences among Ahl al-qibla; to unite Muslims of different faith of Ahl
as-Sunnat and ahl al-bidat; to do away with disagreements; to bring them
all into a state of benefaction and sweet taste like milk and sugar; to render
the simultaneous beat of hearts and everybody's getting share in one's
sorrow and loss; to make known that all who say kalimat ash-shahada are
brothers even if their beliefs would be different. This is aimed on account of
the command in the hadith, "Oh Muslims! Be brothers to one another!"
Disagreement on anything or speaking ill of one another is unnecessary.
Such unity is a command, a fard, of Allahu ta'ala. The salat, fast and ta'at of
only those who unite in this way are acceptable. Those who do not unite in
this way will not attain to happiness in this and the next worlds. Moreover,
unless Ahl al-qibla do not love one another, they cannot possess iman and
enter Paradise. Though men's every kind of sins may possibly be forgiven,
discord and enmity between one another will not be forgiven.' "

Answer 10: Not all of the above statements are in conformity with Islam.
They are harmful to Muslims and lead them to heresy. Many hadiths and the
words of Islamic imams support this. Let's quote some of the hadiths that
forbid friendship with men of bidat and command keeping away from them:
the hadith reported in the Sahih of Muslim from Abu Huraira (radi-Allahu
'anh) says, "Run away from them! [So] they shall not lead you to heresy,
throw you into discord!" The hadith reported from 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar (radi-
Allahu 'anh) by Abu Dawud says, "Do not visit them when they get sick!"
The hadith reported from Jabir by Ibn Maja (radi-Allahu 'anh) states, "Do not
greet them when you encounter them!" The hadith reported by 'Ukaili from
Anas ibn Malik (radi-Allahu 'anh) says, "Do not keep company with them! Do
not eat or drink with them! Do not intermarry with them!" [This hadith
forbids friendship, eating and marrying with ahl al-bid'a. It is written in
Hindiyya and Bahr ar-raiq, "Zindiqs, Batinis, Ibahis and all the groups with
beliefs that causes kufr are mushriks (polytheists) like idolaters and
worshippers of stars. Marriage with such mushriks or intercourse with their
females as jariyas is haram." The above writings conclude that, if the belief
of those who do not belong to one of the four madhabs, that is those who
are not of Ahl as-Sunna, causes kufr, they become mushriks. Marriage with
them and eating the carcass they have slaughtered are haram. Of them,
those whose belief does not cause kufr are ahl al-bid'a, and marriage with
them is not haram; though the nikah would be sahih, not with them but with
ahl as-Sunna should Muslims get married, because living with them and
even greeting them are forbidden by hadiths.]

The hadith ash-Sharif reported by Ibn Hibban says, "Do not perform their
funeral prayers! Do not perform salat with them!" The hadiths reported from
Ma'adh (radi-Allahu 'anh) by ad-Dailami say, "I am not of them. And they
are not of me. Jihad against them is like jihad against disbelievers." The
hadith ash-Sharif which was reported through the ancestral succession of
Imam 'Ali (radi-Allahu 'anh), Husain, Zain al-'Abidin 'Ali, Muhammad Bakir
and Imam Jafar as-Sadiq and which was said to Abu Umama states: "Do not
have relation with those in the groups of Qadari, Murjii and Khariji! They will
spoil your religion. They betray as did the Jews and Christians." The hadith
reported from Anas ibn Malik (radi-Allahu 'anh) by Ibn Asakir states, "When
you meet the man of bidat, treat him harshly! Allahu ta'ala is hostile to all
men of bidat. None of them will be able to pass the Sirat bridge; they will
fall in Hell fire." The hadith reported from Hadrat 'Umar (radi-Allahu 'anh) by
Abu Dawud and Hakim says, "Do not be in company with people of the
Qadariyya group! Do not consult them your affairs." The hadith reported
from 'Abdullah ibn Masud (radi-Allahu 'anh) by Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Abu
Dawud, at-Tirmidhi and Ibn Maja and from Abu Musa 'l-Ashari (rahmat-
Allahu 'alaihim) by at-Tabarani says, "The Sons of Israil committed sin. Their
scholars advised them; they did not listen. Their scholars later talked with
them. They ate and drank together. Allahu ta'ala introduced enmity among
them; He condemned them through the mouths of Dawud ('alaihi 's-salam)
and 'Isa ('alaihi 's-salam)."

At-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud and Ibn Maja reported from Nafi' that a man
conveyed someone's salam to 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar (radi-Allahu 'anhuma),
who said, 'I have heard that he has become a man of bidat. If he is so, do
not take my salam to him." Hasan al-Basri and Muhammad ibn Sirin said,
"Do not come together with men of bidat." Ayyub as-Sahtiyani said, "I and
Talaq ibn Habib were sitting together. Said ibn Jubair, passing by, said to
me, 'Do not sit with him! He is a man of bidat.' " As Asma ibn Ubaid told,
two men of bidat came to 'Ali Sirin and said that they wanted to ask him
about a hadith; "No, don't ask," he said. When they said that they will ask
him about an ayat, he said, "No! Get out of here or I will go!" The two men
left. Those who were there said, "What if you spoke on an ayat from al-
Qur'an al-karim?" He replied, "I feared that they would read the ayat after
altering it and that this alteration might make place in my heart." Salam ibn
Abi Muti' told that, when a man of bidat said to Ayyub that he would ask him
a word, he said, "I wouldn't listen even a half word from you." Someone
asked something to Said ibn Jubair, who gave no answer; when the reason
was asked, he said, "He is a man of bidat, so shouldn't be talked with." Abu
Jafar Muhammad Bakir said, "Do not stay near those who dispute. They give
meanings to ayats as they wish." In the explanation of Mishkat, Imam
Ahmad ibn Hajar al-Makki comments on 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar's (radi-Allahu
'anhuma) saying, "Do not say my salam to..." and adds, "Because, we are
ordered to keep away from men of bidat." In the explanation of the hadith,
"Do not be in company with people of the Qadariyya group," in the book
Mirkat, it is said, "Because, keeping company of enemies leads one to ruin
and disaster." It is written in the book Shir'at al-Islam that Salaf as-Salihin
did not get close to men of bidat since a hadith said, "Do not stay with men
of bidat! Their vices are as contagious as scabies." Another hadith says, "Do
not greet people of the Qadariyya group! Do not visit their sick people! Do
not attend their funeral! Do not listen to their words! Give them answer
sternly! Humiliate them!" Another hadith says, "Allahu ta'ala fills with iman
the heart of him who gives stern answer to the man of bidat; He protects
him against terrible things. One who disesteems the man of bidat will be
saved by Allahu ta'ala against the fears of Resurrection." It is written in the
book Irshad as-saree sharhu sahih al-Bukhari that, unless it is understood
that a man of bidat has vowed for repentance, it is necessary to keep away
from him.
I, the poor servant [that is, Ahmad Rida Khan], am preparing a booklet on
this subject now. With documents from al-Qur'an al-karim and hadiths, I
explain the necessity of keeping away from the men of bidat and treating
them severely. I additionally give the comments of the 'ulama'. This work
will be the light for the eyes, and the remedy for the hearts.

While the harms of being together with men of bidat are that many, it
should be estimated how many more the harms of loving and praising them
are. A hadith says, "One is with those whom he loves." Another hadith
quoted by Imam 'Ali (radi-Allahu 'anh) and others, says, "I swear that Allahu
ta'ala will resurrect the man with those whom he loves." The hadith reported
by at-Tabarani says, "Allahu ta'ala will resurrect the man among those
whom he loves." The hadith reported from Abu Huraira (radi-Allahu 'anh) by
Abu Dawud and at-Tirmidhi says, "Man's religion is similar to his friend's
religion. Everybody shall examine whom he has friendship with!" Extensive
explanation about the foregoing hadiths is given in my book Fih an-Nasrin bi
jawabi 'l-as'ilati 'l-ishrin.

The aim of Nadwat al-'ulama' is the same as that of the damned Satan. They
endeavor for the dissention of Muslims with little knowledge from the right
path. They introduce a new religion with their statement, "It is fard to unite
Muslims." Their saying, "Their 'ibadat will not be accepted. They will not
attain to blessings and happiness," is a slander against Allahu ta'ala. Their
words, "Dispute with and hostility towards men of bidat are sinful. This sin
will not be forgiven. Pardon of it is impossible," show that they have
dissented from the right path of Ahl as-Sunnat wal-Jamaat and that they
deny the ayats which say, "Allahu ta'ala forgives all the sins but shirk of
whomever He wishes," and "Allahu ta'ala certainly forgives all sins." Their
saying, "Pardon of this sin is impossible," results in their denial of these
ayats. Also, they ascribe wrong meaning to the hadith, "Allahu ta'ala's
servants, be brothers [of one another]!" This hadith's meaning, as reported
in Umdat al-Kari and other books, is, 'Do the things that will help you
become brothers of one another.' Accordingly, in order for the men of bidat
to become brothers to the Muslims of the right path, they should give up
their bidats and accept the Sunnat. Their calling Muslims of Ahl as-Sunnat to
become brothers for themselves despite their persisting in committing their
bidats is an apparent heresy and an ugly deceit. [The Arabic work Fatawa'l-
Haramain, from which the foregoing ten fatwas are translated, has been
reproduced in offset in Istanbul. The author, Ahmad Rida Khan Barilawi,
passed away in India in 1340 A.H. (1921).]