Just the Arabic taqriz:
Originally Posted by FazalKhan
All praise to Allah Lord of the Worlds, and blessings and peace be upon our leader and our master Muhammad, the trustworthy prophet, and on his progeny and all his companions, and on all who follow them in excellence to the Day of Recompense.
The noble brother, the respected scholar, the researcher, Shaykh Sayyid Muhammad ‘Alawi al-Maliki (Allah preserve him and maintain him) requested from us that I send to him my opinion of his book Mafahim yajibu an Tusahhah. This was only because of his humbleness before Allah and his love for knowledge and its seekers and his search for truth and accuracy; for he is from a learned and noble family, more esteemed than being in need of praise from the likes of us for their works. His father (Allah have mercy on him) is recognised in the Islamic world for his knowledge and virtue, his scrupulousness and piety. And indeed he, by Allah’s grace, is an excellent successor of an excellent predecessor. However, it is a privilege for us to write these lines in obedience to his command, and hoping for his supplications, and expressing the happiness that overcame us from [reading] most of his discussions, and what occurred to us of criticisms in some other parts.
The topics that the author discussed in this book are dangerous topics, in which excess and negligence have appeared [amongst the Muslims] that has divided the unity [lit. word] of the Muslims and [widened] the marks of disunity and division between them by which the hearts of Muslims are grieved. Rarely in these issues is found one who assesses them with balance and justice, and puts everything in its place, walking the path of fairness, and avoiding excess and negligence.
Most of these issues are secondary matters and not the basis of faith. [They are] not dividers between Islam and disbelief. On the contrary, some of them will not be questioned about in the grave or on the plane of resurrection or in the reckoning, and if a man were not to know of them for his entire life, that will not diminish his religion and his faith the weight of a mustard seed – for example, the reality of the intermediary life and its nature, and what is related to that of theoretical and philosophical matters. However it is very unfortunate that when discussion and argumentation on these matters increased, these issues came to be like the primary objectives of religion or from the foundational creeds of Islam. Hence, some people displayed extremism in these matters, thus accusing all who oppose their view of disbelief, polytheism and deviance. Such narrow-mindedness is often forgiving of the destructive currents attacking the foundations of Islam, but is avid over these secondary theoretical matters more than its avidness in tacking pure apostasy and absolute lawlessness and open profligacy and unrelenting abominations from the disbelievers and foreigners.
Our brother, ‘Allamah Sayyid Muhammad Alawi al-Maliki (Allah protect him), spoke regarding such narrow-mindedness brilliantly, and he showed that those who believe in what is necessarily known to be from the religion, it is not permissible to say he is a disbeliever just because of his preference of some views on which there are disagreements amongst the scholars of Islam, both past and present.
Then he spoke about some of these secondary issues on which disagreement appeared amongst the Muslims, and some of them attacked others because of them with disbelief and deviance, like the issue of tawassul in supplication, and travelling to visit the grave of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and tabarruk (taking blessings) from the relics of the prophets and companions and pious, and the reality of prophethood, humanity and the intermediary life. The position that he preferred in these matters is a safe position supported by bright proofs from the Book and Sunnah and the actions of the companion s and successors and pious predecessors. He proved with clear proofs that one who allows tawassul in supplication and tabarruk from the relics of the prophets and pious or he travels to visit the grave [lit. garden] of the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and believes it is from the greatest of nearing acts, or he believes in the life of the prophets in the graves [a life that is] an intermediary life which excels the intermediary life attained by other than them, he has not acquired any sin, let alone committed polytheism or disbelief, since all of these are established by the Qur’an and Sunnah and actions of the pious predecessors and sayings of the majority of the firmly grounded scholars in every age.
Similarly, the author spoke about the Ash‘aris and their method of interpreting the attributes. There is no doubt that the safest position in this is what the hadith-masters expressed in their speech “pass them over without how,” but figurative interpretation is a conclusion of the ijtihad of the Ash‘aris who preserved Allah’s transcendence and opposed assimilation, and nothing encouraged them towards this but their strong adherence to the belief of tawhid and their avoidance of any trace of anthropomorphism, and many of the great scholars of the past chose this path, whose excellence none but an ignoramus will dispute. So how is it possible to accuse the Ash‘aris of disbelief and deviance? And expel them from the fold of Ahl al-Sunnah and put them in the category of the Mu‘tazila and Jahmiyya?! Allah protect us from this!
How wonderful is what our brother, the author, said in this respect: “Is it not enough for the opponent to say that they (Allah have mercy on them) did ijtihad and erred in the interpretation of the attributes, and it would have been better if they did not tread this path, instead of accusing them of deviance and becoming annoyed at those who consider them from the Ahl al-Sunnah?”
This methodology which the author adopted in these matters is a balanced methodology which if the Muslims chose in their secondary disagreements with complete openness of heart, many of the knots would be untied and many of the efforts which the enemies are undertaking to divide the Muslims will fail.
Now, it is incumbent [on us] to mention the criticisms which came to our minds when reading this book. This stems only from fulfilling the obligation of love and goodwill for the sake of Allah, and obedience to the command of the author himself. They are as follows:
1. The topics which the author (Allah preserve him) discussed are dangerous topics, which have become very sensitive, and the excess and negligence that have occurred in them have occurred, and renovating one part may spoil another part, and focusing on one aspect may sacrifice the right of another aspect. So it is necessary on one speaking about these issues to take extreme precaution, and respect both sides, and be on guard that anybody misuse his words for falsehood.
Since this book is for the purpose of refuting the extremism of anathematising the Muslims and accusing them of polytheism due to venerating and loving the noble Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and the saints and pious, it is natural that there will not be a detailed refutation of those who are extreme in their veneration to such a degree of extremism that is prohibited in the Book and Sunnah and by the scholars of the Shari‘ah in every age and place, but despite this, it is necessary, as far as I am concerned, in view of the seriousness of the topic, that this side is also present even if briefly, so that those who transgress the bounds in this veneration to what leads to suspecting polytheism at the least is refuted.
2. We found in some parts of the book a brief look at some important issues which may be misunderstood by some people, so they may take evidence from that for something that was not originally meant, and misuse it to support some false beliefs. From them is the issue of ‘ilm al-ghayb as the author (Allah preserve him) quickly passed over it and mentioned that ‘ilm al-ghayb is for Allah (Glorified and Exalted is He) and then said after this: “It is established that Allah Most High taught His Prophet from the ghayb what He taught him, and gave him what he gave him.” This speech is true, and is meant the plentiful news of the ghayb which Allah (Glorified and Exalted is He) revealed to His noble Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace). However, some people don’t stop at attributing these news to him (Allah bless him and grant him peace), but say clearly that he (upon him peace) is knower of the ghayb with a knowledge comprehensive of all that was and will be to the establishment of the Hour, so we fear that this general statement will leave the possibility of this false interpretation which the scholars of Ahl al-Sunnah have been refuting for a long time.
3. Similarly the author said about our noble prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) that “he is alive in the two abodes, with a constant attention to his ummah, freely-disposing by Allah’s will in their affairs, aware of their conditions, and the blessings of blessers from his ummah are shown to him and their salutation is conveyed to him despite their abundance.” Apparently, he does not mean by disposition complete absolute disposition, nor by him being aware of their conditions encompassing knowledge of all particulars, as this is baseless and not from the beliefs of Ahl al-Sunnah. He only intended some particular dispositions that are established specifically, as is clear from his illustration of the blessings and peace being shown to him and his response to them. But we fear that this expression suggests the opposite of this intention, and will be misused by some extremists from the other side.
4. The author did brilliantly as we previously indicated in his precaution in the matter of anathematisation of a Muslim, so a Muslim is not anathematised as long as there is a sound interpretation for his speech or an interpretation that does not necessitate anathematisation at the least. However, anathematisation is one thing and preventing a person from using baseless words or suggestive words is another thing. Precaution in anathematising is withholding from it as long as an alternative to it is found, but precaution in the second matter is preventing the likes of these words absolutely.
From this is the statement of the author: “The speaker saying ‘O Prophet of Allah cure me and repay my debt,’ if it were supposed that one said this, he only meant ‘intercede for my cure and pray for the repayment of my debt and turn to Allah in my affair.’ Thus they are not asking from him except what Allah has made them capable of and given them control over of supplication and intercession, as such an attribution in the speech of people is from the [rhetorical style of] majaz ‘aqli.” This is a good interpretation to prevent anathematisation which is from the aspect of holding a good opinion of believers. However, good opinion only arises in one who does not deny this interpretation of his speech. As for the one who does not himself approve of this interpretation as is a reality in some people as far as I am aware, how can his speech be interpreted in a way he himself does not approve?
Furthermore, although such interpretation is sufficient in preventing anathematisation of the speaker, should such words be encouraged? Never! Rather, this should be forbidden to prevent ambiguity and resemblance [of polytheism] at the very least, as the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) forbade the word “my slave” for a bondman due to it being suggestive [of polytheism]. Therefore it is necessary according to me on those who seek interpretations for these speakers to state clearly that it is forbidden so that this interpretation does not encourage them to use such suggestive words. For indeed “the one who grazes around the borders, almost falls in it.” The same is said about tawassul in the form of a vocation, and of the unrestricted usage of “reliever of distresses” (mufarrij al-kurubat) and “fulfiller of needs” (qadi al-hajat) for other than Allah (Glorified and Exalted is He).
5. The author mentioned that bid‘ah divides into two categories: good and evil, so he disapproves of the latter and not the first. This division is correct with respect to the linguistic meaning of the word bid‘ah, and in this sense, it was used by the Greatest Distinguisher [‘Umar] when he said : “What a brilliant bid‘ah this is!” As for bid‘ah in its technical sense, it is only evil, and in this sense Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: “Every bid‘ah is misguidance.”
6. The author (Allah preserve him) was successful in describing the prophetic distinctions when he said: “Although the prophets are human beings who eat and drink...and they are subject to the characteristics which overcome human beings of weakness, old age and death, but they are distinguished by peculiarities and acquired lofty and magnificent attributes which are with respect to them from the most habitual of characteristics.”
Then he mentioned a number of these peculiarities, especially the peculiarities of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace), so no one can claim that he (upon him blessing and peace) is equal to other than him in attributes and states – protection is from Allah! The truth is that his (Allah bless him and grant him peace) peculiarities are beyond what we are able to comprehend, but we believe that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is greater than us needing weak narrations in order to establish his distinctions, for his distinctions that are established in the Qur’an and sound Sunnah are more in number, higher in status and stronger in affecting the hearts than the distinctions that are mentioned in some weak narrations like what is narrated that he had no shadow in the sunlight or moonlight, as it is a weak narration according the majority of the scholars and hadith-masters.
7. The author (Allah protect him) said: “Gathering for the purpose of the noble prophetic birth is nothing but a customary practice, and is not at all part of worship, and this is what we believe and take as our religion before Allah Most High.” Then he said: “We announce that specifying one night besides another for this gathering is the greatest estrangement from the Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace).”
There is no doubt that commemorating the noble Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and describing his biography is from the greatest of blessings and the most virtuous of fortunes when it is not restricted to a day or date, nor is the belief of worship associated with it in gathering on a particular day in a particular form. Thus, gathering to commemorate the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) with these conditions is in essence permissible, not deserving condemnation or blame.
However, there is another approach adopted by many verifying and scrupulous scholars, which is that this gathering, although permissible in reality, many people believe it is from the objective acts of worship or from the religious obligations, and they specify for it specific days, along with what some of them mix with it of weak beliefs and illegal practices. Moreover, it is difficult for the general people to observe the subtle differences between custom and worship. Hence, if these scholars, by observing these matters, the importance of which cannot be denied, chose to prevent such gatherings, observing the principle of “blocking the means,” and recognising that repelling harms is favoured over attaining benefit, then they are holding firm to proofs of the Shari‘ah, and thus do not deserve condemnation or blame. The course in these matters is like the course in matters which are open to ijtihadi difference, every man encouraging and giving fatwa according to what he believes to be true, and adopts the religion of Allah according to it, and at the same time not shooting the arrows of criticism at another mujtahid who holds an opposing view.
In sum, the respected scholar, the researcher, Sayyid Muhammad ‘Alawi al-Maliki (Allah Almighty preserve him and benefit by him Islam and the Muslims) despite some of these criticisms, he assessed in this book many issues which were misunderstood by some people, so he produced their correct understandings and their proofs from the Book and Sunnah. I wish that his book is studied with the eye of fairness and the spirit of mutual understanding, not with the objective of argumentation and quarrelling. I ask Allah Most High to enable us and all Muslims to stand with justice as witnesses to Allah even against ourselves. Verily He Most High is Near, Responding to callers. Allah Most High bless our master and our leader Muhammad and his progeny and all his companions.
Mufti Muhammad Taqi al-‘Uthmani, servant of the students of Dar al-‘Ulum Karachi
Mufti Muhammad Rafi‘ al-‘Uthmani, headmaster of Dar al-‘Ulum Karachi
(Reprinted in al-Balagh Journal, 1416 H – 1995 CE)