Friday, 7 October 2011

The Preamble to Faith - Tamhīd e Īmān Ba Āyāt e Qurān

The Preamble to Faith

A descriptive translation of the Urdu work

Tamhid e Iman


Alahazrat Imam Ahmed Rida Khan Baraylawi

Alahazrat wrote the book Tamhid e Īmān ba Āyāt e Qur’ān or The Preamble to Faith
in the Light of the Qur’ān
, to explain the basis of faith and priorities we should have as Muslims and to refute the propaganda that he was careless in takfīr.

He explains fundamental principles of faith, analyzes disparaging statements made by
Deobandis and the implication of such statements. He describes the background and conditions which led to the ruling and mentions the extreme carefulness and restraint that he exercised in takfīr, countering accusations that he was ‘quick to label anyone kāfir’.


All praise be to Allāh (SWT) the Lord of all the worlds. Blessings and peace upon our master Muĥammad صلى الله عليه وسلم the prince of all the worlds; and the leader of all prophets and messengers; he who was sent with guidance and as a guide to the world. O Allāh! We ask thee to guide us towards truth and upon the right path.

The majority of Muslims in India belonged to traditional Sunni faith until dissenting groups began to appear in the early 19th century [the 12th century after Hijrah]. Ironically, the grandsire of most splinter groups thereafter, Ismāyīl Dihlawī,1 was the grandson of a prominent Sunni scholar of his age – Shāh Aĥmed Dihlawī, famously known as Shāh Waliyullāh.

Shāh Ismāyīl’s books like Taqwiyatu’l Īmān, Şirāt e Mustaqīm and pamphlets like Ek Rozi introduced ideas imported from ancient2 and modern3 heresies unknown to commonfolk and thus ignited the fire of sectarianism in the subcontinent. Scholars, including his own cousins, Shāh Makhşūsullāh Dihlawī and Shāh Mūsā Dihlawī refuted him.

Indeed, many of those who staunchly opposed him, like Fađl al-Ĥaqq Khayrābādi, were students of his illustrious uncle Shāh Abd al-Azīz al-Dihlawī.

After Ismāyīl died in 1831, it seemed as if the tribulation had subsided; but unfortunately, it was rekindled and defended by his followers and admirers from the founders of the Deoband school.

Ulamā expressed their displeasure, but Deobandi elders were committed to defend Ismāyīl.

The disease of irreverence spread and amplified; major scholars of the Deoband school wrote things and preached doctrines that no Muslim would utter, or even wish to hear. Sunni scholars reproached them and refuted this new sect – but they ignored all remonstrations and pleas to revert.4

Eventually, Alahazrat Imām Aĥmed Riđā Khān5 d also issued the ruling of kufr6 upon four senior scholars of Deoband and asked them to repent from these blasphemous statements. Deobandi scholars pretend as if this activity was on account of Alahazrat’s misunderstanding or rancour or because of some trivial reason that had made him oppose them. On his visit to the blessed sanctuaries in 1905, he presented this ruling7 to scholars in Makkah and Madinah for endorsement. Major scholars attested to the ruling of kufr as mentioned by Alahazrat and praised him for the clarity of his fatwā and commended his action. These attestations were published along with the fatwā in the form of Ĥusām al-Ĥaramayn.8

After Alahazrat’s return from Haramayn and the publication of Ĥusām alĤaramayn,

Deobandis responded in many ways: character assassination of Alahazrat,9 accusations of lies and slander,10 while some others tried to dismiss the issue by trying to explain explicit insults in favorable light. One common response was:

‘Deobandis are also scholars and pious men; and we should not criticize them’.

Deobandis allege that Alahazrat deceived the scholars of Haramayn by mistranslating and misrepresenting the passages in question. One of those accused, Khalīl Aĥmed Ambhetwī Sahāranpūrī, wrote a book Al-Muhannad in which he denies (both on his own behalf and those scholars of his group) that they held such beliefs and even claimed that they never said or wrote any such thing. Mawlānā Sayyid Nayīmuddīn Murādābādī, teacher of many prominent authors and translators in the subcontinent, wrote Daf’ al- Talbīsāt refuting the delusions and exposing the lies of Al-Muhannad.

Another serious charge made by Deobandis in a bid to ward off censure of their own scholars, was that Alahazrat rushed to label someone or anyone kāfir, if they differed from his viewpoint, and that he did not hesitate or deliberate in this matter. According to them, the takfīr of Deobandi elders was also a product of haste and lack of deliberation.11

Alahazrat wrote the book Tamhid e Īmān ba Āyāt e Qur’ān or The Preamble to Faith in the Light of the Qur’ān, to explain the basis of faith and priorities we should have as Muslims and to refute the propaganda that he was careless in takfīr.12

He explains fundamental principles of faith, analyzes disparaging statements made by Deobandis and the implication of such statements. He describes the background and conditions which led to the ruling and mentions the extreme carefulness and restraint that he exercised in takfīr, countering accusations that he was ‘quick to label anyone kāfir’. A similar argument was made by an American scholar, Nuh Keller, in an article published on his website.

Notes on the text and the translation:

1. Alahazrat employs a second-person narrative in what is meant to be a personal appeal to the reader.

2. Alahazrat does not mention the names of Gangohī, Ambhetwī or Thānawī, in the main text. One probable reason could be that names can evoke passion and thus cause the reader to become defensive; even the most sincere statement may then fail to move a prejudiced reader.

In order to avoid this potential psychological barrier, he might have omitted the names and says Zayd, Amr or ‘that person’ instead.

However, in certain places, he mentions these names in footnotes.

3. The language and the style of the author, rhyming prose and compound sentence structure pose difficulties in translation. In many cases, compound sentences are broken down or slightly reordered; in one case, a clause is moved from the main text to the footnote [see page 63].

4. Alahazrat’s own footnotes are included and indicated accordingly.

5. Almost all references are copied from the original text; the translation is based on the text in Fatāwā Riđawiyyah.13

6. The original text does not have divisions and chapter names; these are inserted for quick reference and readability.

7. This translation is made directly from the original Urdu text.14

Many thanks are due to brothers for their suggestions and corrections during the review of the book; obviously, I am solely responsible for mistakes that still remain. Special thanks to Shaykh Monawwar Ateeq for providing the fatwā of Gangohī, which is translated and analyzed in Appendix C. Thanks to an esteemed brother who prepared the bibliographical index in Appendix F. SunniStudent provided the scans of books included in Appendices.

wa billāhi’t tawfīq.

Abu Hasan

7th Ramađān 1432/7th August 2011


1 Shāh Ismāyīl Dihlawī [1193-1246 / 1779-1831AH] was the son of Shāh Abd al-Ghaniy Dihlawī [d.1203 AH/1788CE,] son of Shāh Waliyullāh Aĥmed Dihlawī, son of Shāh Abd ar-Raĥīm Dihlawī; and the nephew of the famous muĥaddith Abd al-Azīz Dihlawī [d.1238 AH/ 1823 CE].

2 Like the Mutazilī heresy that falsehood is included in Divine Power.

3 Of mixed Wahābī-Khāriji extremism of branding Muslims as polytheists; and of anthropomorphism; Ismāyīl wrote that it is a heresy to believe that God is without a direction or that He is transcendent from space.

4 Mawlānā Abd as-Samīy Rampuri, a confrere of Qasim Nānautawī and Rashīd Gangohī [as they shared the same teacher and shaykh,] complained to Raĥmatullah Kīrwānī and Hājī Imdādullah Muhājir Makkī and requested them to advise their disciples, as he narrates in the preface of Anwār e Sāţiah and is also evident from endorsements of this book. The spirital guide of Nānautawī and Gangohī, Hājī Sahib, even wrote a short booklet Fayşlah e Haft Mas’alah to end this discord. Gangohī did not heed it [as is evident from his fatāwā] and Khalīl Aĥmed [at the behest of Gangohī] wrote a refutation of Anwār titled Barāhīn e Qāţiah employing harsh and impudent language; unfortunately, the cure proved to be worse than the malady.

5 See the biography of the Imām after appendices.

6 Rashīd Gangohī was ruled an apostate even before Alahazrat did, by other scholars for the fatwā of ‘occurrence of falsehood’ in the Divine Speech of Allāh or in Urdu: wuqūu e kizb. See footnote 334 and Appendix C for more details.

7 Extracted from Al-Mustanad al-Mutamad Bināyi Najātu’l Abad, a commentary on Shaykh Fađl ar-Rasūl al-Badāyūnī’s Al-Mutaqad al-Muntaqad.

8 The Sword of the Two Sanctuaries; ĥaramayn or two ĥarams : Makkah and Madinah.

9 See Murtaza Ĥasan Chāndpūrī’s books.

10 See Ĥusayn Aĥmed Tāndwī’s Shihāb al-Thāqib.

11 Deobandis in our time do not even attempt to veil their lies; Muftī Taqi Usmani, in a reply to someone inquiring about ‘the Barelwi group’, says [See Fatāwā al-Uthmānī, Vol.1, Pg.101, published from Deoband, India; translation below by a Deobandi, Ismaeel Nakhuda]:

“Their imam, Shaykh Ahmad Rada Khan al-Barelwi circulated a fatwā of kufr against the ‘ulama of Deoband and even said that he who does not consider them a kāfir is also a kāfir. This was because they (the ‘ulama of Deoband) had criticized their beliefs and said: the knowledge of the unseen is a quality (sifah) of Allah Most High, no one is a partner with him in this.”

It is incredible that a person who claims to believe in Judgement day – can slander and lie with such ease; particularly someone who is considered as a scholar. The fatwā of kufr was given on statements deemed as blasphemies – not because ‘Deobandis criticized their beliefs’. And as for the issue of ilm al-ghayb and its description, this is the same false accusation made by Abu’l Ĥasan Nadawī in Nuz’hatu’l Khawāţir and is repeated by Deobandis at every opportunity.

12 However, Tamhīd is not a refutation of Al-Muhannad, and it appears that Alahazrat was not even aware of this Al-Muhannad.

13 Volume 30, published by Raza Foundation & Jamiah Nizamiyyah, Razawiyyah, Lahore.

14 Various English translations are available as soft copies or printed books; it is not known at the time of this writing whether any Arabic translation exists.

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1 Introduction ---------------------------------------------1

2 Knowledge Less than the Devil ------------------------- 11

3 Knowledge Like Quadrupeds and Madmen ------------ 13

4 Falsehood in Divine Speech ---------------------------- 20

5 Alibis of The First Group ------------------------------- 25

6 Alibis of The Second Group ------------ ----------------29

7 An Important Principle ------------ ---------------------55

8 False Accusations ------------------------------------ 63

9 Conclusion ------------- --------------------------------73

Appendix A: Barāhīn e Qāţiah ----------------------------75

Appendix B: Ĥifžu’l Īmān ---------------------------------78

Appendix C: Fatwā of Rashīd Gangohī --------------------81

Appendix D: Sahāranpūr District --------------------------95

Appendix E: Transliteration Key --------------------------96

Appendix F: Bibliography --------------------------------99

About the Author --------------------------------------103




This sample of Rashīd Aĥmed Gangohī’s handwriting is taken from the collection of his letters published by his disciple Aāshiq Ilāhī Meeruti, in a volume titled:

Makātīb e Rashīdiyyah, published by Azīzu’l Maţābiy, Meerut.

More info: Here


Appendix A


Maulvi Khalīl Aĥmed (1269-1346 AH / 1852-1927 CE) was born in Ambetha and studied at Deoband. He was the student of Rashīd Aĥmed Gangohī and at his behest, wrote Barāhīn e Qāţiah as a refutation of the book Anwār e Sātiah written by Mawlānā Abdu’s Samīy Rampūrī, a Sunni scholar who was also a disciple of Ĥājī Imdādullāh Muhājir Makkī, Gangohī’s spiritual master.

It is in this book that Maulvi Khalīl Aĥmed Sahāranpūri says that the knowledge of Satan is proven from documentary evidence and there is no such evidence for the knowledge of RasūlAllāh _.

He also wrote another book in Arabic named Al-Muhannad where he denied that he ever said such a thing.

The controversial passage appears on page 51 of Barāhīn e Qāţiah, published by Kutub Khana Imdādiyah, Deoband, UP, India, 1962.


Appendix B


Ashraf Alī Thānawī was born in 1280 AH and died in 1362 AH (1863-1943 CE). He graduated from Deoband in 1300AH/1883CE and Rashīd Aĥmed Gangohī tied his turban; Qāsim Nānautawi, Maĥmūd al-Ĥasan Deobandi and Yaqūb Nānautawi were among his teachers.

In 1319 AH, he wrote a small booklet titled Ĥifžu’l Īmān in which he made a statement that any native Urdu speaker, even an illiterate, will consider as an insult.

The following scan is from page 8 of the book, published by Iyzāziyyah Book House, Deoband.


Tamhid e Iman ba Ayat e Qur’an

The Preamble to Faith in the Light of the Qur’ān

Translation by

Abu Hasan



Tamhīd e Īmān Ba Āyāt e Qurān


(original Urdu work)


Edited by ADHM