[By Mawlana Manzur Nu’mani (rahimahullah)]
On pages 12-13 of Mawlawi Ahmad Rida Khan Sahib’s Husam al-Haramayn, from where the takfir of senior scholars of the Ahl al-Sunnah begins, he wrote regarding Hazrat Mawlana Muhammad Qasim Sahib Nanotwi (rahmatullah alaih), the founder of Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband:
Qasim al-Nanotwi, the author of Tahzir al-Nas, who said therein:
“If a new prophet were supposed in his (Allah bless him and grant him peace) time, rather if it were to occur after him (Allah bless him and grant him peace), that would not infringe on his Sealship (khatamiyyah), and it is only the commoners who imagine that he (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is the Seal of the Prophets with the meaning ‘last of the Prophets’ although there is no virtue in this at all according to the people of understanding” to the end of what he mentioned of irrational talk.
It says in al-Tatimmah and al-Ashbah and [other books] besides them: “When one does not recognise that Muhammad (Allah Most High bless him and grant him peace) is the last of the Prophets, he is not a Muslim, because it is from the necessities.” (Husam al-Haramayn, p. 12)
This slave [i.e. Mawlana Manzur Nu‘mani] submits that the ruling of disbelief which has been levelled at Mawlana Muhammad Qasim Sahib (rahmatullah alaih) in this statement of Khan Sahib Barelwi is, according to the view of this helpless one, nothing besides deception and deceit.
Even the aforementioned Khan Sahib is not so ignorant and dimwitted to the degree of ignorance and dimwittedness that is understood as a consequence of this fatwa. And Allah knows best.
[Proofs of the Deception of Mawlawi Ahmad Rida Khan]
The reasons for [concluding that] the verdict is erroneous and pure distortion and deceit are:
In quoting this text of Tahzir al-Nas, Mawlawi Ahmad Rida Khan Sahib undertook the most sorrowful display of distortion (tahrif) after which this cannot be said to be a quote from Tahzir al-Nas in any way. The reality is that this text of Tahzir al-Nas was manufactured by joining separate sentences from three different pages! Thus, one sentence is from page 3, another from page 14, and another from page 28. Apart from the different page numbers, there is no demarcation between the sentences, and as a consequence, any [casual] reader will not be able to understand that these are from different places; rather, he will be forced to believe that this is one contiguous quote. Moreover, it does not end here. Rather, to create a content of pure disbelief, the aforementioned Khan Sahib even changed the order of these sentences. Thus, he first wrote the sentence from page 14, and then after this, the one from page 28, and then the one from page 3.
The result of Khan Sahib changing the order was that if the three sentences from Tahzir al-Nas were read separately in their respective places, nobody would conceive of [the author] denying the Prophetic Sealship. But, in the way he quoted the statements from Tahzir al-Nas, denial of the Prophetic Sealship will clearly be understood. And this is a consequence of the handiwork of his pen.
Otherwise, the author of Tahzir al-Nas is free from this, which – if Allah wills – will be made completely clear in the coming explanation. By translating these sentences from Tahzir al-Nas into Arabic, which he then presented before the scholars of the two Harams, he committed even greater injustice, and insolently completed the fabrication. He undertook the work of editing the sentences from pages 14 and 28 in order to manufacture one sentence. Thus he deleted the subject from the first sentence [on page 14] and made the subject of the second sentence [on page 28] the subject of the first sentence also in such a way that no one will imagine that these are statements from different places. These actions of his are called tahrif in the parlance of the Qur’an.
The Mighty Qur’an describes the tahrif of the Bani Isra’il in the following words: “They distort the words from its places.” (Qur’an 4:46)
The aforementioned Khan Sahib himself in one place described such an action as “dangerous tahrif” (khawfnak tahrif). Khan Sahib in his treatise Bariq al-Manar wrote that a person whose hypothetical name is Zayd quoted the Qur’an to say tattakhidhuna ‘alayhim masajida [which was made by joining three separate words of the Qur’an]. In regards to this, the aforementioned [Khan Sahib] wrote on page 17 of Bariq al-Manar:
The most dangerous tahrif is this, that tattakhidhuna ‘alayhim masajida has been constructed as a Qur’anic phrase, whereas this is nowhere [to be found] in the Mighty Qur’an. These three words indeed come separately in the Mighty Qur’an.
From this quote of Khan Sahib it is clearly understood that to take words from separate places of any book and join them to make one contiguous quote and then to attribute it to [the author of] that book is the most dangerous tahrif, and this type of tahrif changes the original meaning; and it is not farfetched that [as a consequence of such tahrif] an Islamic speech may become pure disbelief. Tahzir al-Nas is a book authored by a human being.
If some wretched person wanted to create a content of disbelief from the speech of Allah using this type of tahrif, he would be able to do so, yet such a person would probably not have to undergo such strenuousness as Khan Sahib did when selecting one sentence from page 14, and another from page 28, and another from page 3.
In one chapter of the Wise Qur’an, rather one verse, this type of action would change it to a content of disbelief. For example, the Mighty Qur’an states: “Verily the righteous are in bliss, and verily the wicked are in the Fire.” (82:13-4) Now, if a follower or student of Khan Sahib were to act upon the sunnah (practice) of Khan Sahib, and just made this degree of tahrif in the noble verse, of replacing “bliss” with “fire” and “fire” with “bliss,” the meaning will be completely altered, and the sentence will become clear disbelief – whereas all words are from the Qur’an and only the places of two words were changed. This is only one example. If readers paid careful attention, they would be able to extract thousands of examples like this. Here, the places of words are changed. In some situations just by changing the places of vowels (harakat), a meaning of disbelief will be created. For example, the Noble Qur’an says: “Adam disobeyed his Lord, and erred.” (20:121) Now, if some wretched person were to change the vowels of “Adam” (adam) and “Lord” (rabb) and place a fathah instead of the dammah on the mim of adam and place a dammah instead of the fathah on the ba [of rabb] [which would change the meaning to: “His Lord disobeyed Adam”], just this amount of change will make this [originally] pure speech, the reading of which would have been a cause for reward, into pure disbelief.
Anyhow, the reality is manifest that in some instances a slight distortion of a statement changes the meaning and this creates the difference between Islam and disbelief; let alone the great alteration that will occur by slicing sentences from different places, making them into one contiguous sentence, and even changing the order of the sentences. Since Khan Sahib gave the ruling of disbelief after making this type of tahrif, and since this tahrif and alteration of the sequence of the text from Tahzir al-Nas completely changes the meaning and creates a meaning constituting denial of Chronological Prophetic Sealship, I was forced to believe the verdict is deliberately deceptive and purposefully distorting.
The second reason and the second evidence for this opinion [that the passage from Husam al-Haramayn is pure deceit] is that in the Arabic translation of the sentences from Tahzir al-Nas, Khan Sahib undertook the most sorrowful display of deceit, which is that the sentence on page 3 of Tahzir al-Nas is as follows:
magar ahl e fahm pur roshun hoga ke taqaddum ya taakhkhur zamani meh bizzat kuch fazilat nehih
“But it will become clear to the people of understanding that in coming earlier or later in time, there is intrinsically no virtue.”
It is apparent that in this sentence only intrinsic virtue is negated, which according to the implied meaning (mafhum al-mukhalafah) necessitates the affirmation of extrinsic virtue , but Khan Sahib made the Arabic translation as follows:
ma‘a annahu la fadla fihi aslan ‘inda ahl al-fahm
“Although there is no virtue in this at all according to the people of understanding.”
The meaning of which is that there is absolutely no virtue in the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) being the last prophet according to the people of understanding. In this there is negation of every type of virtue, and between the two there is the difference between the earth and sky, as is not hidden.
The third reason and the third evidence for this opinion is that the preceding and succeeding sections of those sentences from Tahzir al-Nas which Khan Sahib quoted in this passage, from which their true meaning would become clear and there would be no room for misunderstanding from readers, were deleted. The evidence for this will come later.
The fourth reason and the fourth evidence for this opinion is that Khan Sahib’s ruling of disbelief is based solely on the notion that Tahzir al-Nas denies the Prophetic Sealship, while from its start to its finish there is not even one word from which denial of the Messenger’s (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) Chronological Sealship emerges. Rather, the subject matter of Tahzir al-Nas is the preservation and protection of every kind of Sealship for the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam), whether essential, chronological, spatial or otherwise. And, specifically, with respect to Chronological Sealship, there are absolutely clear and obvious statements in it. For example on page 3, after the sentence which the Barelwi learned man quoted last, the deceased Mawlana wrote:
Rather, the [Prophetic] Sealship is based on another consideration by which chronological finality and blocking the aforementioned door (i.e. blocking the door of claimants to prophethood) will be necessitated automatically, and prophetic excellence will be multiplied.
Likewise, on page 10 of Tahzir al-Nas, the deceased Mawlana, after completing his explanation of the primary hypothesis, writes:
Therefore, if [Sealship] is absolute and general [i.e. includes all three types of Sealship: chronological, spatial and essential 5 ], then the establishment of Chronological Sealship is obvious. Otherwise [i.e. if only Essential Sealship is 6 taken as the immediate meaning of “Seal”], accepting the necessity of Chronological Sealship by implicative indication (dalala iltizami) is immediately established . Here, the explicit statements of the Prophet, like: “You [i.e. Ali] are to me at the level of Harun to Musa, but there is no prophet after me,” or as he said, which apparently is derived from the phrase “Seal of the Prophets” in the aforementioned manner 7 , are sufficient in this subject, because it reaches the level of tawatur. Furthermore, consensus (ijma‘) has been reached on this. Although the aforementioned words were not transmitted by mutawatir chains, despite this lack of tawatur in the words, there is tawatur in the meaning here, just like the tawatur of the number of rak’at of the obligatory prayers, the witr prayer etc. Although the words of the narrations stating the number of rak’at are not mutawatir, just as the one who denies that is a disbeliever, in the same way, the one who denies this [i.e. Chronological Sealship] is a disbeliever.
In this passage, the deceased Mawlana establishes Chronological Sealship for the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) in five ways:
1. The Chronological Sealship of the Holy Prophet is established by the complete signification (dalala mutabiqi) of the text “Seal of the Prophets.” In this way, “Seal” is accepted as inclusive of Essential and Chronological [Sealship].
2. Or by means of the generality of the metaphor (‘umum al-majaz) 9 , the indication of the word “Seal” applies to both types of Sealship.
3. Or it applies directly to one of them and indirectly to the other. In all three cases, Chronological Sealship is established from the text of the Qur’an.
4. The Chronological Sealship of the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallan) is established from the mutawatir hadiths.
5. There is consensus of the ummah on Chronological Sealship.
After establishing Chronological Sealship of the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) in these five ways, the deceased Mawlana also stated that the denier of Chronological Sealship is a disbeliever in much the same way as one who denies the necessities and decisive elements of religion.
Despite such clear statements in Tahzir al-Nas, to say that there is denial of the Prophetic Sealship in it, if it is not severe injustice and deceit, what is it??
Furthermore, such clear statements are not found only in one or two places, but it would be difficult to miss it on nearly every page. At this juncture, I will present only one more text from Tahzir al-Nas for the readers in which the deceased Mawlana Nanaotwi explained Chronological Sealship of Prophethood using a wonderful and marvellous philosophical concept. On page 21 of Tahzir al-Nas, he writes:
If time is to be considered as motion, it must also have an endpoint, upon reaching which the motion ends. Thus, for the motion of the series of prophethood [which is one motion within the motions of time], the point of the essence of Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is its endpoint. And this point is in relation to the chronological and spatial lines just as the apex of an angle [in which two lines meet and end at one point]. By this indication, the reality is known that his prophethood is comprehensive of cosmos and space, earth and time.
Then after a few lines on the same page, he says:
From amongst the motions [of time] is also the motion of the series of prophethood. Thus, due to attaining the greatest endpoint, the essence of Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace), that motion returns to rest. Definitely other motions [of time besides the motion of the series of prophethood] still remain. This is also another reason for his appearance at the end of time. (Tahzir al-Nas p. 21)
Furthermore, this is not restricted to Tahzir al-Nas. Such clear statements are also found in other works of the deceased Hazrat. Just by way of example, note some passages from Munazarah ‘Ajibah. When this topic in Munazarah ‘Ajibah begins, the first line is:
The Chronological Sealship of the Revered Seal of the Messengers (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) is accepted by all, and it is also accepted by all that he is the first of creation [either absolutely or relatively].
Further, on page 39 he says:
Chronological Sealship is my religion and faith, though certainly there is no cure for undeserved accusations.
Further, on page 50 he writes:
I never denied Chronological Sealship. Rather, it would be more correct to say I left no room for the deniers to deny it. I hold the [Prophet’s] superiority, and have strengthened the foothold of those who believe in this.
Moreover, I believe in the prophethood of other Prophets, but I do not consider anyone equal to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace). Further, on page 69 he writes:
Yes it is accepted that Chronological Sealship is a unanimous creed. Further, on page 103, he writes: There is no possibility of another prophet appearing after the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace). I consider the one who believes this a disbeliever.
These five passages are only from Munazarah ‘Ajibah. After this, one more passage from the deceased Hazrat Nanotwi’s final book Qiblah Nama will be quoted.
On page 1 of Qiblah Namah, he says:
His religion is the last of all religions, and since religion is the name of divine decree, the one whose religion is last, he will be the chief, because [only] that person whose religion is last will be the master of all.
These were ten passages from the writings of Hazrat Qasim al-‘Ulum (his secret be sanctified).
Can any person of integrity and intellect say after these clear statements that this person denies the Chronological Seal of Prophethood?? But there is no cure for fabricators. Regarding such fabricators, ‘Arif Jami (Allah have mercy on him) said:
This they do in jest
This they say – how evil and how farfetched!
Because of this a righteous face is made ugly
And a mended heart is broken
The clear statements mentioned above from the various writings of the deceased Hazrat Nanotwi, and the academic and practical efforts of other Deobandi scholars against the Qadiyani group relating to this issue of the Prophetic Seal which till today appears in the form of books and debates that are known and accepted in the Islamic world, are more than enough for a fair person to recognise the clear position of the founder of Dar al‘Ulum Deoband and the scholars of Deoband regarding the Prophetic Seal. “And Allah guides whoever He wishes to the straight path,” (Qur’an 2:213) “and those who do injustice will soon know to which place they will return.”
[An Explanation of the Correct Meaning of the Passages from Tahzir al-Nas]
After this, it will be appropriate to present with some detail the true meaning of the three sentences of Tahzir al-Nas which Mawlawi Ahmad Rida Khan Sahib sliced and joined together to slander the author with denial of the Chronological Sealship of prophethood. But for this it is necessary to summarise the methodology and theoretical viewpoint of the deceased Mawlana Nanotwi with regards to the exegesis of the phrase “Seal of the Prophets” (33:40) from the Qur’an. The Deceased Hazrat Nanotwi and the Exegesis of “the Seal of the Prophets” Firstly, the hypothesis is made that the Messenger of God (may my soul and my heart be ransomed for him – Allah bless him and grant him peace) in reality has two types of Sealship:
1. One is chronological (zamaniyyah), which simply means he is the last of all prophets, and his time comes after all the prophets (alayhi mussalaam), and no prophet will be sent after his time.
2. The second is Essential Sealship (zatiyyah) which means that he embodies the attribute of prophethood essentially, and other prophets (alayhimussalaam) accidentally. Meaning, Allah Almighty granted the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) prophethood directly, and to other prophets (alayhimussalaam) through the medium of the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam). Just as the Lord Almighty gave light directly to the sun and its light is not gained from the light of anything else in the world of means, in the same way Allah Almighty gave the prophetic perfections directly and without any medium to the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam), and his prophethood is not gained from the prophethood of any other prophet. And just as Allah Almighty granted the moon and other heavenly bodies light through the medium of the sun and they are dependent on the light of the sun for light, in the same way He granted the other prophets (alayhimussalaam) prophethood through the medium of the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam). Those revered personalities are truly prophets but their prophethood draws from the effusion of the prophethood of Hazrat Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) – and all this is with the permission of Allah Almighty. And just as the series of everything that has an accidental property ends upon something that has an essential property and does not precede it, like light that illuminates a room through the means of a mirror can be said to have originated from the mirror and the light of the mirror can be said to be a reflection of the sun, but once the sun is reached [in this process] the series comes to an end and no one can say that the sun’s light is a reflection of the light of such-and-such a body from the world of means because the sun was given light directly by Allah Almighty; in the same way, it can be said in relation to the prophethood of all prophets (alayhimussalaam) that it was acquired from the Seal of the Prophet’s prophethood, but the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) is a seal to this series and in relation to him none can say his prophethood was acquired from such-and-such a prophet because he is the essential prophet by the permission of Allah. This is called “Essential Seal” and this rank is called “Essential Sealship.”
After this brief introduction, it should be known that the conclusion of the research of Hazrat Mawlana Nanotwi and other verifiers is that when the Mighty Qur’an calls the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) “Seal of the Prophets” both types of Sealship, essential and chronological, are established by it, while the commoners derive only one type of Sealship as its intended meaning, i.e. only chronological.
However, the disagreement between the deceased Hazrat Mawlana and the commoners is not over the Chronological Sealship of prophethood, nor is it over the phrase “Seal of the Prophets” being intended for Chronological Sealship, because Mawlana accepts both these things, but the disagreement is over whether the phrase “Seal of the Prophets” is intended for both Chronological Sealship and Essential Sealship or not.
Hazrat Mawlana is a proponent of the [former] view, and he wrote a few possible scenarios for its [linguistic viability]:
1. The word “Seal” is a homonym relating to the meaning (mushtarak ma‘nawi) and just as in a homonym relating to the meaning all its components are intended, in the same way, here, in this noble verse too, both types of Sealship are intended.,
2. The second scenario is that one meaning is literal and the other is metaphorical and by the method of “the generality of the metaphor” (‘umum al-majaz) 14, such a general meaning will be taken which incorporates both types of Sealship. In both these scenarios, the indication of the word “Seal” is completely (mutabiqi) towards both types of Sealship.
3. A third scenario is that only Essential Sealship is intended by the word “Seal” in the Noble Qur’an, but since by rational and transmitted proofs, Chronological Sealship is a necessary consequence of it, in this scenario too, Chronological Sealship will be indicated by the noble verse in an implicative (iltizami) way .
After writing these three scenarios on page 9 of Tahzir al-Nas, Hazrat Mawlana (rahimahullah) states his own preference, which is that “Sealship” is a genus and Chronological and Essential Sealship are two species of it, and the Mighty Qur’an intends both types from the term “Seal,” in much the same way as the noble verse, “Wine, gambling, altars and divining arrows, are only filth (rijs),” (5:90) where “filth” simultaneously includes both external and internal types of filth. In fact, if considered carefully, Essential Sealship and Chronological Sealship are not as far apart as wine and gambling are in terms of the degree of their difference in impurity.
The upshot of Hazrat Mawlana Qasim Sahib’s (rahimahullah) methodology in the exegesis of the word “Seal of the Prophets” is that Allah’s Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) is both the Chronological Seal and the Essential Seal, and both these types of Sealship emerge from the phrase “Seal of the Prophets” in the Noble Qur’an.
The Correct Meaning of the Passages from Tahzir al-Nas
After this, I will present the correct meaning of the three sentences which Mawlawi Ahmad Rida Khan Sahib joined together to create a content of disbelief:
The first sentence is from page 14, and here the deceased Hazrat is further explaining the above mentioned research on “Essential Sealship,” and in this particular place, the full passage of Tahzir al-Nas is as follows:
The objective is that if Sealship in the meaning I presented [i.e. Essential Sealship] is determined [as one of the meanings of “Seal of the Prophets”], then his position as the Seal will not be specifically in relation to past prophets, for if it were assumed that in his own time any prophet appeared, even then his position as the seal will remain sound.
Khan Sahib deleted the underlined part from which every person understands that this text of the Mawlana is regarding Essential Sealship and is not in regards to Chronological Sealship, and he quoted an incomplete passage.
He further committed the injustice of joining it to a sentence from page 28 in such a way that not only is the page number not mentioned but between the sentences there is no demarcation. In quoting this sentence [from page 28], there is also clear deception. Here, the full passage is as follows:
Yes, if Sealship in the sense of an intrinsic embodiment of the quality of prophethood is taken, as this humble one has submitted, then besides Allah’s Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) any other individual intended for creation cannot be considered equal to the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam). Rather, in this way not only is his superiority over external individual prophets established, his superiority over even conceivable (muqaddara) individuals is established. Therefore, even if it were assumed after the time of the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) that any prophet was born, even then there would be no difference to the Muhammadan Sealship .
In this passage also, Mawlawi Ahmad Rida Khan Sahib undertook the action of deleting the very important part from the first section – from which readers will clearly understand that here only Essential Sealship is being discussed not chronological, and they will also know the belief of the author in relation to the superiority of the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) – and he only quoted the underlined part. He, further, joined this incomplete sentence to another incomplete sentence of page 3 without any separation between them.
Anyhow, in these sentences on pages 14 and 28, the deceased Mawlana was only discussing Essential Sealship, explaining that this is such a Sealship that supposing if in his time or after his time any prophet were to come, even then no difference will come to this Sealship of his. Here, Chronological Sealship is not discussed at all, and no sane person can say that if a prophet were to come after the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam), that would cause no difference to his Chronological Sealship.
Explaining the Intent of Mawlana Nanotwi (rahimahullah) from a General Example
Undoubtedly, an illustration of this explanation is exactly like the following:
In some country a pandemic spreads. One after another, many doctors are sent by the king and they treat patients according to their ability. At the end, this kind and generous king sends the greatest and most skilled doctor who was the teacher of all the doctors sent previously, and he announces: “Now after him no doctor will come. In the future whenever anybody becomes ill, the prescription of this final doctor should be used, and he will be cured, and after him whoever claims to be a doctor sent from the king, he is lying and must be executed.” Then this doctor opens his clinic and multitudes and multitudes of patients attend and are cured. In one decree, the king addressed this doctor as “the seal of doctors.” Now, the commoners understood from this that its meaning is only that this doctor is the last doctor in terms of time and no other doctor will be sent from the king, but one group of the people of understanding, while knowing with certainty that this is the last doctor that was sent, said that this great doctor was not called “the seal of doctors” only for the reason that he is the last doctor; rather, it is also because the medical knowledge of all the earlier doctors culminates at this great doctor, and all other doctors are his students and only learnt the science of medicine from him. This is a second reason for calling him “the seal of doctors.” And these two types of sealship emerge from the term “seal of doctors.” And if you think carefully you will realise that the king sent this skilled doctor at the end also because in the science of medicine he surpasses all and is more skilled than all doctors and he is their teacher, as the principle is that doctors are referred to in the order of hierarchy. After crossing all lower stages, the king sent the highest doctor. Anyhow, this doctor is not the seal in terms of time alone, rather he is also a seal in terms of perfection in the science [of medicine], and this second sealship is such that supposing that in his time and even after him another doctor were to come, there would be no difference in this sealship of his.
Readers should assess that if any stubborn adversary said with respect to this group of people of understanding that these people do not accept the seal of doctors as the last doctor and they deny this belief, how great a distortion and unadulterated shamelessness will this be – for this group from the people of understanding, while proclaiming the essential and positional aspect of the sealship of this imperial doctor, also clearly state that with respect to time he is also the last doctor, and after him no doctor will be sent from the king, rather if any doctor after him claims to be sent from the king, he must be executed??
Till here, the correct understanding of the sentences from pages 14 and 28 was presented. The third sentence, from page 3 of Tahzir al-Nas, which Khan Sahib quoted last, remains. It should be understood that this sentence is in effect the beginning of Tahzir al-Nas. The words are as follows:
After praising [Allah] and sending blessings [on the Prophet], before answering the question, I ask that the meaning of “the Seal of the Prophets” first be understood, so that no time is taken in answering the question. Thus, it is the understanding of the commoners that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) is a Seal in the sense that his time came after the time of the earlier prophets and that he is the last of all prophets. But it will become clear to the people of understanding that in coming earlier or later in time, there is intrinsically no virtue.
There are two things worth noting from this passage: first, the deceased Mawlana is not speaking about the issue of the prophetic seal, rather he is discussing the meaning of the phrase “Seal of the Prophets”; second, taking the intent of Chronological Seal from “Seal” was not regarded as the understanding of the commoners, but its restriction to Chronological Sealship was regarded as the understanding of the commoners, and this understanding was disputed by Mawlana. Otherwise, taking the meaning of Chronological Sealship with Essential Sealship is the preferred methodology of the deceased Mawlana himself, which was demonstrated earlier, and which Mawlana explained in full detail on pages 8 and 9 of Tahzir al-Nas.
Anyhow, since according to Hazrat Mawlana, Chronological Sealship is also intended by, that is why it must be accepted that here it is only the restriction [to Chronological Sealship] which Mawlana expressed as the understanding of the commoners, and Mawlana’s intent is that the commoners believe that from the phrase “Seal of the Prophets” only Chronological Sealship is established and besides this nothing else is established, while according to the people of understanding both Chronological and Essential Sealship are established from this phrase of the Glorious Qur’an. From this, the objection that Mawlawi Ahmad Rida Khan Sahib produced against this passage of Tahzir al-Nas in al-Mawt al-Ahmar is also answered – that is: In this [book], taking the meaning of Chronological Seal from “Seal of the Prophets” was expressed as the understanding of the commoners while this meaning of “Seal” was stated by the Prophet, the Joy of the World (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam), and is also narrated from his noble Companions.
Consequently, according to the author of Tahzir al-Nas, the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) and all the noble Sahabah are included amongst the commoners. (Allah forbid!)
The answer is that the author of Tahzir al-Nas did not consider taking the intent of Chronological Sealship from “Seal” as the understanding of commoners; rather, he regarded restriction of “Seal” to Chronological Sealship as the understanding of the commoners. And restriction is not established from the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) or any Sahabi. Rather, restriction has not been stated clearly by the firmly-grounded scholars, and nobody can venture to claim such restriction, since the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) said regarding the verses of the Qur’an, “For every verse there is an outward and an inward, and for every letter there is a boundary, and for every boundary there is a spectacle,” from which is known that every verse of the Qur’an has at least two meanings. And if the wording of restriction is found in the speech of the scholars of the past, that is not literal restriction which the deceased Mawlana Nanotwi expressed as the understanding of the commoners, but its intent is relative restriction i.e. in relation to the false interpretation of the heretics.
Anyway, if anyone maintains this slander against the author of Tahzir al-Nas, that he (Allah forbid!) described the explanation of the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) as the understanding of the commoners, . he should prove restriction from the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) or any Sahabi.
Furthermore, the deceased Mawlana in his Maktubat (letters) also clearly explained what is meant by “commoners” in the subject of Qur’anic exegesis. On this subject, the deceased Hazrat’s words are: “Apart from the prophets and the scholars well-grounded in knowledge, all are to be counted amongst the commoners in the science of exegesis.” (Qasim al-‘Ulum, no. 1, letter 2, p. 4)
With this clear statement, to say with respect to the author of Tahzir al-Nas that he included the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) and the noble Sahabah amongst the commoners is extreme dishonesty.
Support for Mawlana Nanotwi’s Methodology in the Exegesis of “Seal of the Prophets” from the Statements of Mawlawi Ahmad Rida Khan Sahib himself
After this, I also want to say that those people who derive only one meaning from the phrase “Seal of the Prophets” and restrict the meaning of “Seal of the Prophets” to this meaning, they are according to the Barelwi learned man also included amongst the commoners and not amongst the people of understanding. The aforementioned learned man wrote on page 43 of al-Dawlat al-Makkiyyah:
It is narrated from Abu al-Darda’ (radhiyallahu anhu): “A man will not understand with full understanding until he realises multiples viewpoints in the Qur’an.” I say: Ibn Sa‘d transmitted it from Abu al-Darda’ (radhiyallahu anhu) in al-Tabaqat, and Abu Nu‘aym in al-Hilyah and Ibn ‘Asakir in his Tarikh and Muqatil ibn Sulayman mentioned it at the start of his book on the interpretations of the Qur’an, tracing [it to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him)] with the wording: “A man will not have understanding with complete understanding until he finds many viewpoints in the Qur’an.” It says in al-Itqan: “Some of them interpreted it in that the intent is to find one word is a bearing multiple meanings such that one accepts them [all] when they are not conflicting; and he does not restrict it to one meaning.”
From this passage of Mawlawi Ahmad Rida Khan Sahib, rather from this narration of Abu al-Darda’ (radhiyallahu anhu), it is clearly recognised that the person who takes only one meaning from a verse of the Qur’an and restricts it to this one meaning will be included amongst the commoners and not from the people of understanding. One will only be a complete person of understanding when multiple non-conflicting meanings are taken as the intent of a single verse, just as Hazrat Mawlana Muhammad Qasim (rahmatullah alaih) established three types of Sealship for the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallan) from the one phrase “Seal of the Prophets,” meaning essential, chronological and spatial.
All praise to Allah, the correct meaning of the three sentences of Tahzir al-Nas has been explained, and it is known to the readers that those people who the deceased Hazrat Nanotwi called commoners on page 3 of Tahzir al-Nas are commoners according to the Barelwi learned man also. After this I also want to say that from this research, the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam), along with being the Chronological Seal is also the Positional Seal and Essential Seal, i.e. he is the essential prophet while other prophets are accidental prophets. His prophetic perfections were given directly by Allah Almighty while the other prophets received it through the medium of the Messenger. In this too, the deceased Hazrat Nanotwi is not alone. Rather, many earlier research scholars stated exactly this. However, I feel there is no need in making the speech long and the book big by quoting their statements because Mawlawi Ahmad Rida Khan Sahib himself also stated this, after which there is no need to quote any other text. This is why I will quote one passage from him in this respect to conclude the discussion. The aforementioned learned man wrote on page 23 of his treatise Jaza’ Allah ‘Aduwwah:
And from recurrent clear texts of the noble saints and the glorious imams and luminous scholars it is evident that every blessing, whether little or much, small or big, physical or spiritual, religious or worldly, outward or inward, from the first day till now and from now till the Resurrection, and from the Resurrection till the afterlife, and from the afterlife to eternity, whether a believer or disbeliever, obedient or disobedient, angel or man, jinn or animal, rather everything besides Allah which is acquired by anyone or has been acquired or will be acquired, its bud opens or opened or will open with his gracious breeze, and is distributed or was distributed or will be distributed from his hand. He is the secret of existence and the foundation of existence and the greatest vicegerent of Allah and the one given charge of the bounty of the world (Allah Almighty bless him and grant him peace). He (Allah Almighty bless him and grant him peace) said this himself: “I am Abu al-Qasim. Allah gives and I distribute.” Al-Hakim narrated it in alMustadrak and authenticated it and the critics agreed with him.
From this passage of the Barelwi learned man, it is acknowledged that whatever spiritual, bodily, worldly, religious, outward and inward blessing is acquired by anyone, it is a consequence of the generous favour of the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam). And since prophethood is also one of the highest levels of spiritual blessings, therefore, this too is acquired through the medium of the Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) by other Prophets (alayhimussalaam). The name of this reality according to the terminology of Hazrat Mawlana Qasim Nanotwi is “Essential” or “Positional Sealship.” I will now close the discussion here, and I will turn my attention towards Mawlawi Ahmad Rida Khan Sahib’s slander against Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Sahib Muhaddith Gangohi of attributing lie to the Lord of Glory (Great is His Majesty). (Will be posted later In Shaa Allah!)
[Taken from fayslah kun munazarah]