Salafism and Barelwism- Two Deviants at two opposite ends of extremes

[By Maulana Ahmad Sadeq Desai d.b]

Two mutant accretions  which have  become  attached  to  Islam  in these  times  are  the  two  deviant groups of  Bid’ah, viz.,  the Barelwi grave-worshippers  and  the  Salafi worshippers  of the  nafs.  Both these  groups are  extremists, having  veered sharply  off  from  Siraatul  Mustaqeem  (the  Straight  Path of the  Qur’aan  and  Sunnah). Both  groups are  guilty  of  ghulu’  fid-deen  (excess committed  in the Deen).  All  types  of ghulu’  fid-deen  are  haraam  and  destructive. The  Qur’aan  Majeed prohibits excesses. Allah Ta’ala says: 

“O  People  of the  Kitaab! Do  not  commit  ghulu‘  (excess)  in   your  Deen  and  do  not  speak about  Allah,  but  the  Haqq  (truth).”   (Qur’an – 4:171)

  Bid’ah  and  Ghulu’  were  common  acts  of deviation  perpetrated by  the  Yahood  (Jews)  and  Nasaara (Christians). Whenever  a  Muslim  veers off  from  the  straight  path of  the  Sunnah, he  emulates the example  of the  Ahl-e-Kitaab  in their practise  of ghulu’  fid-deen. Just  as the  Jews  and  Christians committed ghulu’ in abundance, so do the two deviant Barelwi and Salafi sects.

 While  the  Ahl-e-Kitaab  committed  excesses  in  their religions in different  ways,  they  differed in  their attitudes.  The  ghulu’  of  the  Yahood  was the  product  of their extreme  disrespect  for the  Ambiyaa while  the  ghulu’  of the  Nasaara  was  the  consequence  of their  extreme  veneration  for their Nabi (Nabi Isaa  –  alayhis salaam). The  Ghulu’  of  the  Yahood  led  them  to  murder  the Ambiyaa  (alayhimus salaam). In  contrast,  the ghulu’  of the  Nasaara  led  them  to  elevate  Nabi Isaa (alayhis salaam)  and even his mother, Hadhrat Maryam (alayhas salaam) to the level of gods and beings of worship. 

Yahood And Nasara 

In  our time,  the  Salafis resemble  the Yahood  and  the  Barelwis are  the  specimen of the  Nasaara.  The Salafis are  totally  barren  –  spiritually  dry  to  the  point  of  vulgarity.  They  are  rude,  crude  and  even cruel in their  attitude. They  lack  respect  for  the  illustrious personalities  of Islam,  especially  for  the great  Salf-e-Saaliheen,  viz.,  the Fuqaha-e-Mujtahideen  who  were  the  Students  of  the  noble Sahaabah. Not  only  are they  crude  and  disrespectful,  but  they  are  also  devious, for when they discuss with  the Ulama  of  the  Ahlus Sunnah  or they  speak in public,  they  guard  their tongues. They deviously  praise  the  Fuqaha of  the  Math-habs  while  subtly  negating  the  Waajib  Shar’i concept  of Taqleed. However,  in their  private  discussions  or  when  conversing  with ignorant  members  of  the Ahlus Sunnah, they  mercilessly  and  rudely  condemn  the  great  Imaams.  Thus, they  are  like  the  Jews who murdered the  Ambiyaa (alayhimus salaam)  despite  their  overt  acknowledgement  of  the Nubuwwat  of Allah’s Messengers. The  only  difference  between  the  Salafi deviates and  the  Jewish murderers  of  the  Ambiyaa  (alayhimus  salaam)  is  that  the  crimes  of  the two groups are  committed in different  planes.  The  Yahood  physically  murdered  the  Ambiyaa  (alayhimus  salaam). The  Salafis spiritually  murder  the  Rasool (sallallahu  alayhi wasallam)  by  negating  most  deviously  the  Sunnah  of Nabi-e-Kareem  (sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam).  Those  who  are  not  prepared to  submit  to  the  Fuqaha  – the illustrious Students of the Sahaabah – are denying and killing the Sunnah by shaitaani deception.

The Sahaabah (radhiyallahu anhum) 

It should  be  well  understood  that  the  Sunnah  is  inextricably  interwoven with  the life and  teaching  of the Sahaabah.  The  Sahaabah  handed the  Sunnah  most  meticulously  by  way  of practical  example and teaching  to  the  Taabi-een  who  constituted  the first  group  of  Aimmah-e-Mujtahideen  in the  Ummah after  the  Sahaabah. Thus,  obedience  to  these  great  Scholars and  Ulama among  the  Taabi-een is pure obedience  to  the  Sahaabah, which  in turn  is  the  Waajib  obedience  of the  Rasool  (sallallahu  alayhi wasallam). 

When the  Qur’aan  and  Hadith  are  subjected  to  personal opinion  or  the  opinions and  interpretations of a  single  Aalim  appearing  on  the  Islamic scene  a thousand  years  after  the  Sahaabah, are  accepted as ‘Wahi’  and  the  final  word  of rectitude  in preference  to  the  interpretations and  rulings of those who had  acquired  their  Ilm  (Knowledge)  from  the Sahaabah, it  is pure  deviation  (dhalaal) and rejection  of the  Sunnah  of  the  Sahaabah. Such people  have  no  right  to  call  themselves  the  Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama’ah. Their claim is palpably baseless.


The  other  extremity  of  the  disease  of ghulu’  is  the  Barelwi  sect.  While these  people  purport  to  follow the Sahaabah  and  overtly  proclaim  themselves  as  followers  of  the  Math-habs, they  are  bereft  of  the Aqeedah  (Belief)  propagated by  the  Math-habs  of the  Ahlus Sunnah. Their adherence  to  the  Mathhabs relates  to  only  the external dimension, i.e. to  Fiqh, and  that  too, partially. They  commit wholesale Bid’ah  (innovation). They  destroy  their concept  of Tauheed with a number  of beliefs  of shirk. They  perpetrate  acts  of grave-worship. They  elevate  the  Nabi  (sallallahu  alayhi wasallam)  and the Auliyaa  (rahmatullah  alayhim)  to  the  pedestal  of Godhood. In  their  excessive  veneration  they resemble the  Nasaara  who  deify  Hadhrat Isaa (alayhis  salaam)  and  his noble  Mother,  Hadhrat Maryam (alayhas salaam).

  Muslims  should  beware  of  both these  mutant  groups.  They  are  astray.  They  have  left  the  Path  of the Ahlus Sunnah  Wal Jama’ah.  Inspite  of their  deviation,  they  dub  themselves,  Ahlus  Sunnah  and  Sunni. But, their claims are false. 

The salient features or symptoms of their spiritual diseases are: 

The  Salafis reject  the  four  Math-habs;  they  lack  taqwa;  they  are  disrespectful,  their Salaat is absolutely  devoid  of  khushu’;  they  fiddle profusely  in their Salaat;  they  are  unable  to  stand motionless  in  their Salaat;  they  sway  to  and  from  in their Salaat;  they  are  obsessed  with  obedience to the views of Ibn Taimiyyah and the modernist Al-Albaani.

  The  Barelwis  prostrate  to  the  graves  of the  Auliyaa;  they  make  tawaaf  of  the graves;  they  decorate the graves  with expensive  quilts  and  sheets, they  practise  meelad, urs,  etc.;  they  believe  in  the omnipresence  of  the  Rasool (sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam);  their  headquarters  are  the graveyards where they erect mausolea (tombs) for generation of financial income.


  The  opposite  poles  of these  two  deviant  groups  is  their diverging  beliefs regarding  the  attributes  of omnipresence.  The  Salafis  have  stripped Allah  Ta’ala  of His Attribute  of  Omnipresence  and  have assigned Him  into  a specified section  of created space. In  stark  contrast  to  this evil  concept  of the Salafis, the  evil  belief  of  the Barelwis  have  bestowed  the  attribute  of  omnipresence  to  Rasulullah (sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam). While not  negating  the  Omnipresence  of Allah  Ta’ala, the  Barelwis commit  shirk  in this  Divine  Attribute, by  their  shirki bestowal  of the  Attribute  to  our Nabi (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). 


Waseelah literally means medium. Waseelah has different meanings according to the different sects. According to the Ahlus Sunnah, the meaning of waseelah when supplicating, i.e. making Dua to Allah Ta’ala, is to petition Allah Ta’ala for one’s needs and to tender the medium of a Nabi or a Wali or even the medium of one’s own pious deeds. Example:
“O Allah! Accept my dua through the waseelah of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) – or through the medium of a certain amal-e-saalih which I had rendered solely for Your pleasure.”

In this type of waseelah, the dua is made directly to Allah Ta’ala, not to the Nabi, etc. It is not permissible to supplicate to any being besides Allah Ta’ala. To make dua to any being besides Allah Ta’ala is shirk in terms of the Shariah.

According to the Salafi extremists, supplicating in this way is not permissible. Even this form of waseelah in which the supplication is made directly to Allah Ta’ala, is considered shirk by the Salafis. According to the Barelwi Bid’atis, it is compulsory to make dua directly to Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) or to the Wali in the grave. Since Dargah-Puja (or worship of the graves of the saints) forms an integral part of the Aqeedah of the Qabar Pujaari sect, they consider it imperative to make dua to Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) or to the Auliya in their graves.


From these two issues, viz. the Haazir-Naazir and the Waseelah questions, it will be seen that both these groups have strayed far from the Moderate Path of the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama’ah. While the one group negates Omnipresence for Allah Ta’ala, the other sect ascribes it to even created brings. While the one group of Bid’atis (the Salafis) refute waseelah in even its lawful form, the other group of Bid’atis (the Barelwis) go to the opposite extreme of developing it into a concept of shirk whereby divinity is conferred to Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and the Auliya. In this deviation, they have fallen into the same trap as the Christian and other peopleof shirk.

Besides the clarity of Shar’i proofs for the views of the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama’ah, commonsense will acknowledge the simple and convincing reasoning of those who ascribe to the Middle Path of the Deen.

Beliefs cannot be based on weird concoctions of the minds of people. Beliefs require absolute Qur’aanic and Hadith facts and proofs. No shaitaani analogical reasoning is valid for any deduction of masaa-il, leave alone beliefs.

May  Allah  Ta’ala  save  Muslims from  the  evil  and  ruin  of dhalaal (deviation).


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