Category Archives: Shah Ismail Shaheed

Reality of Shirk (Polytheism)

[By: Maulana Shah Ismail Shaheed (rahimahullah)]

Shirk  does  not  only  imply  that  an  entity  be  equated  with  Allah  or  be  reckoned  as  His  counterpart, but  it  goes  much  further  to  include  the  things  and  manners  which  Allah  has  peculiarized  to  His Qualities  and  that  represent  the  signs  of  worshipping  and  obeisance  which  He  has  specified  for his  slaves  to  observe  for  Him  Alone.  In  case,  someone  observes  those  signs  and  exhibits  them  in front  of  any  other  entity  whatsoever  other  than  Allah,  such  a  practice  also  lies  within  the definition  of  Shirk:  this  practice  includes  making  prostrations,  sacrificing  an  animal  in  the  Name of  Allah,  making  vows,  calling  upon  Him  in  distress,  considering  Allah  to  be  Himself  present everywhere,  and  maintaining  that  the  others  do  have  a  role  to  play  in  the  matters  of  one’s  fate  and destiny.  All  the  above  are  different  shapes  and  varieties  of  Shirk.  Prostration  is  particularized  to be  performed  for  the  sake  of  Allah  only,  animal  sacrifice  is  done  for  Him  Alone,  vows  are  made to  Him  Alone,  He  is  the  One,  Who,  in  times  of  distress  (situations),  is  called  upon.  He  is  the Omnipotent  and  All-Powerful  and  He  is  the  Supreme  Authority  over  everything.  If  any  of  these qualities  are  ascribed  to  any  other  entity  other  than  Allah,  it  is  known  as  Shirk,  even  if  such  an entity  is  regarded as  inferior  to Allah or  is  reckoned  to  be  a  creature  or  slave  of  Allah.

All  such  beings  and  entities  like  a  Prophet,  saint,  jinn,  Satan,  ghost,  apparition  and  fairy  shall  all be  treated  equally  in  this  matter  and  whoever  considers  them  as  having  Divine  powers  commits an  act  of  Shirk  and  the  doer  of  such  a  thing  will  become  a  Mushrik  (the  one  who  associates partners  with  Allah).  Hence  Allah  has  brought  down  His  wrath  on  the  Jews  and  Christians  too even  though  they  did  not  practice  idolatry,  but  treated  their  Prophets  and  saints  in  a  similar manner  (i.e.  they  attributed  to  them  the  qualities  which  are  purely  Divine  in  nature)  as  Allah  has stated in the following Qur’anic verse:

They  (Jews  and Christians)  took  their  rabbis  and  their  monks  to be  their  lords  besides  Allah,  (by obeying  them  in things  which they  made  lawful  or  unlawful  according  to their  own desires without  being  ordered  by  Allah)  and (they  also took  as  their  lord)  Messiah, son of  Mary, while they  (Jews  and Christians)  were  commanded (in  the  Torah  and the  Gospel)  to worship  none  but One  (God-Allah)  La  ilaha  ilia Huwa  (none  has  the  right  to  be  worshipped but  He).  Praise  and glory  is  to Him, (far  above  is  He)  from  having  the  partners  they  associate  (with Him). (Qur’an 9:31)

It  means  that  even though  they  considered  Allah  as  the  Most  Supreme  Lord,  but  besides  that, they also  gave  their  recognition  to  other  mini-lords,  which  are  their  priests  and  monks.  These  people were  never  instructed  to  commit  such  acts  of  Shirk.  Allah  is  all  Alone  worthy  of  being worshipped.  He  has  no  partners.  Everyone,  whether  big  or  small,  are  none  but  His  helpless slaves. Allah states in one of the verses of the Noble Qur’an:

There  is  none  in the  heavens  and  the  earth but  comes  unto  the  Most  Beneficent  (Allah)  as  a slave.  Verily, He  knows  each one  of  them, and has  counted  them  a  full  counting.  And everyone  of them  will  come  to Him  alone  on the  Day  of  Resurrection (without  any  helper, or  protector  or defender). (Qur’an 19:93-95)

It  means  that  regardless  whether  a  creature  happens  to  be  an  angel  or  a  human  being,  it  carries  a status  of  no  more  than  being  a  slave  before  Allah.  A  slave  lies  under  an  absolute  hegemony  of Allah  and  therefore,  is  completely  helpless  and  powerless.  Everything  lies  under  Allah’s  control. He  gives  nobody  under  anyone’s  control.  Everyone  shall  have  to  appear  in  His  Presence  to account  for  his  deeds.  No  one  will  advocate  for  anyone  there  nor  one  could  lend  his  support  to anyone  else.  There  are  hundreds  of  verses  mentioned  in  this  regard  in  the  Noble  Qur’an  whereas only  we,  as  a  specimen,  have  made  a  mention  of  a  few  of  them.  Whosoever  understands  them clearly,  shall  have  a  clear  understanding  of  the  concept  of  Shirk  and  Tauhid.  In  sha  ‘Allah


It  is  necessary  to  gain  knowledge  about  the  characteristics  which  Allah  has  peculiarised  for Himself  so  that  none  of  them  be  attributed  to  any  other  else.  Such  things  are  countless.  We,  on  our  part,  shall  be  mentioning  some  of  those  things  and  prove  them  in  the  background  of  Qur’an and  Hadith  so that  the  people  may  understand  the  other  pertinent  things  also with their  help.

1.  Shirk  in  knowledge:

The  first  thing  is  that  Allah  is  present  everywhere  by  His  Knowledge  which  means  that  His Knowledge  encompasses  everything.  This  is  why  He  has  a  complete  cognizance  of  everything, every  time,  whether  a  thing  happens  to  be  far  or  near,  hidden  or  apparent,  up  in  the  heavens  or inside  the  earth,  on  the  tops  of  the  mountains  or  at  the  bottom  of  an  ocean.  This  magnificence belongs  to  none  but  Allah.  If  a  person  calls  upon  someone  (by  invoking  his  name)  other  than  Allah,  while  doing  his  everyday  routine  chores,  so  that  the  one  called  upon  may  help  him  obviate his  distress,  or  attacks  an  enemy  by  invoking  his  name,  or  keeps  pronouncing  his  name  on  the beads  of  a  rosary,  or  makes  a  vow  in  his  name  or  conjures  up  his  picture  in  his  imagination  by nursing  a  faith  that  whenever  he  invokes  his  name,  or  think  of  him  vividly  in  his  mind  or contemplate  on his  grave,  he  gains  cognizance  of  him;  none  of  his  affairs  is  hidden  from  him,  and whatever  circumstances  he  goes  through,  namely,  sickness  and  good  health,  abundance  and distress,  life  and  death,  sadness  and  happiness  etc.,  are  all  known  to  him;  any  word  which  his mouth  utters  is  heard  by  him  and  he  knows  about  his  thoughts  and  imaginations.  All  the  above things  and  acts  prove  the  presence  of  the  elements  of  Shirk.  This  is  called  a  Shirk  in    knowledge which  means  one  is  trying  to  prove  that  someone  other  than  Allah  possesses  a  similar  kind  of knowledge  which is  only  the  prerogative  of  Allah.

By  nursing  this  kind  of  faith,  a  man  undoubtedly  turns  into  a  Mushrik  (polytheist)  whether  he nurses  such a  faith in  regard to an  honorable  human being  or  any  of  the  exalted angels, or  whether such  a  knowledge  which  is  attributed  to  him,  happens  to  be  a  personal  one  or  granted  by  Allah. Whatever  the  situation may be, this  is  an absolutely  polytheistic  faith.

2.  Shirk  in  disposing:

Disposing  the  matters  of  the  universe  with  intention,  exercising  authority,  killing  at  will  and resuscitating,  awarding  abundance  and  giving  distress,  giving  healthiness  and  sickness,  giving victory  and  defeat,  succeeding  and  preceding,  fulfillment  of  one’s  desires,  obviating  calamities, providing  help  in  distress  situations  and  whenever  one  stands  in  need  of  it,  are  all  attributed  to Allah and  none  but  Him  Alone.  None  but  Allah can  have  this  magnificence.  A  human  being  or  an angel,  despite  acquiring  great  ranks,  may  never  have  these  characteristics.  A  person  who  seeks  to prove  that  an  entity  other  than  Allah  may  have  an  authority  of  this  nature,  makes  vows  to  this entity  or  makes  an  animal  sacrifice  for  the  purpose  of  fulfillment  of  his  wishes,  and  invokes  it’s name  in  distress  so  that  it  can  obviate  his  troubles,  such  a  person  is  called  ‘Mushrik‘  and  this  kind of  act  is  called  ‘Shirk  in  authority’  or  disposing.  It  means  that  cherishing  a  belief  that  any  entity other  than  Allah  may  have  this  authority,  whether  as  the  one  granted  by  Allah  or  as  one  of  it’s personal  traits,  is  a  polytheistic  faith anyway.

3.  Shirk  in  worship:

Allah  has  particularised  all  acts  of  worship  for  Him  Alone  which  are  defined  as  Ibadat  like prostrating,  bowing,  standing  with  folded  hands,  giving  charity  in  the  Name  of  Allah,  fasting  in His  Name  and  undertaking  long  journeys  to  visit  His  Sacred  House  by  putting  on  such  a  clothing that  the  people  may  distinguish  them  as  the  visitors  of  His  Sanctified  House,  invoking  Allah’s Name  on  the  way,  avoiding  indecent  talk  and  hunting,  circumambulating  His  House  with  an utmost  caution,  making  prostrations  in  its  direction,  carrying  the  animals  of  sacrifice  towards  it, making  vows  there,  putting  a  covering  on  Ka’bah,  making  supplications  while  standing  on  the threshold  of  Ka’bah,  asking  for  the  virtuosities  in  the  religious  as  well  as  worldly  matters,  kissing of  the  Black-Stone,  touching  the  walls  of  Ka’bah  by  one’s  mouth  and  chest,  making  supplications by  getting  hold  of  the  fringes  of  its  covering,  illuminating  its  surroundings,  taking  up  residence there  as  one  of  its  servants,  sweeping  and  cleaning  it,  offer  drinking  water  to  the  pilgrims, providing  water  for  Wudu  (ablution)  and  bathing,  partaking  of  Zamzam  water  by  considering  it  as a  sanctified  act,  getting  oneself  drenched  with  it,  drinking  it  to  one’s  heart  content,  distributing  it among  themselves,  carrying  it  to  be  presented  to  one’s  relatives,  venerating  the  forest  surrounding it, to  refrain from  hunting  there,  not  to  cut  trees  there, not  to  pullout  grass  from  there,  not  to  graze animals  there:  these  are  acts  which  Allah  has  prescribed  for  Muslims  to  be  observed  as  His worship.

Now,  if  a  person  makes  a  bow  or  prostration  before  the  grave  of  a  Prophet,  saint,  ghost, apparition,  jinn,  fairy  or  any  of  the  real  or  fake  graves  or  a  specified  place  inside  a  tomb,  or  a certain  sign  or  house,  or  a  Eucharist  and  coffin;  observes  fast  in  their  names;  stands  in  front  of them  with  folded  hands;  makes  offerings  to  them  or  hoisting  a  flag  in  their  name  or  walking backwards  (with  a  reverse  motion  of  feet);  kisses  a  grave  or  undertakes  a  long  journey  to  visit graves  and  other  places;  lights  earthen  lamps  there  or  makes  arrangements  for  illuminating  them; or  puts  coverings  on  their  walls  or  offers  a  sheet  as  a  covering  on  the  grave,  manually  fanning  the air  by  hand (by   using  a  Morchhal, a  fanning  contrivance);  erects  a  tent  there;  kisses  it’s  threshold; offers  supplications  there  with  folded  hands;  asks  for  the  fulfillment  of  wishes  there;  serves  the shrine  by  becoming  its  servant  and  venerates  the  forest  around  it:  anyone  doing  any  of  the  above acts  commits  a  clear  and manifest  Shirk.

In  brief,  all  the  above  acts  and  the  alike,  are  called  “Shirk  in  worship.”  It  implies  paying  one’s respect  to  an  entity  other  than  Allah  in  a  manner  which  is  prescribed  for  Allah  Alone  either  by believing  that  this  particular  entity  is  personally  entitled  to  such  a  veneration  or  by  believing  that Allah  becomes  pleased if  any  of  these  entities  are  held  in  high  esteem  or  with the  blessing  of  their veneration,  troubles  are  warded  off  and  done  away  with.  Whatever  may  be  the  case,  such  faith  is purely  polytheistic  in  its  nature.

4.  Shirk  in  one’s  daily routine  chores:

Allah  the  Exalted  has  taught  His  slaves  the  norms  of  respect  to  the  effect  that  they  should remember  Allah  while  performing  their  everyday  worldly  chores  and  pay  Him  their  tributes  for the  enhancement  of  their  Faith  and  to  secure  Allah’s  blessing  in  day-to-day  assignments.  These norms  include:  (1)  making  vows  to  Allah  and  calling  upon  Him  Alone  whenever  a  catastrophe befalls  his  slave;  (2)  invoking  His  Name  for  His  blessing  whenever  commencing  an  assignment; (3)  slaughtering  animals  to  express  one’s  gratitude  to  Allah  in  the  case  of  having  been  blessed with  a  child;  (4)  giving  one’s  children  such  names  as  Abdullah,  Abdur-Rahman,  Ilahi  Bakhsh, Allah  Diya,  Amatullah,  Allah  Di  etc.;  (5)  taking  out  a  small  portion  of  the  crop  produce  and giving  it  away  in  the  Name  of  Allah;  (6)  apportioning  some  of  the  fruits  to  His  name  out  of  the total  produce;  (7)  specifying  some  of  the  animals  and  allocating  them  for  the  purpose  of  sacrifice in  the  Name  of  Allah;  (8)  treating  the  animals  which  are  carried  to  the  House  of  Allah  with  due respect  by  neither  riding  them  nor  mounting  any  load  on  them;  (9)  observing  Divine  Instructions in  the  manners  concerning  food  and  dress;  (10)  restricting  oneself  to  the  use  of  permissible  things only  and  avoiding  the  ones  that  are  not  allowed;  (11)  considering  that  all  the  different  conditions and  situations  which  one  comes  across  in  this  world,  like  expensive  and  inexpensive  rates  and prices,  health  and  sickness,  victory  and  defeat,  succeeding  and  preceding,  sadness  and  happiness, are  all  commanded  by  Allah;  (12)  pronouncing  a  standard  formula  of  In  Sha’  Allah  while  making an  intention  to  perform  an  assignment;  (13)  pronouncing  the  Name  of  Allah  the  Exalted  One  in such  a  manner  that  His  Greatness  is  conspicuously  highlighted  and  one’s  slavery  is  clearly exhibited,  by  using  such  words  like,  our  Rabb,  our  Master,  our  Creator  or  Ma’bud  (the  object  of our  worship)  etc.;  (14)  in  case  a  need  arises  on  a  certain  occasion  to  administer  an  oath  at  all, undertaking  an oath only  in  the  Name  of  Allah.

These  and  the  other  similar  things  have  been  singled  out  by  Allah  as  His  own  and  personal prerogative  for  the  sake  of  His  veneration  and  magnificence.  Anybody  showing  such  kind  of respect  to  an  entity  other  than  Allah,  commits  Shirk;  as  for  example:  making  a  vow  to  it  with  the intention  of  facilitating  a  difficult  assignment;  giving  one’s  children  names  like  AbdunNabi, Imam  Bakhsh,  Peer  Bakhsh  etc.;  apportioning  part  of  the  produce  of  one’s  farm  or  orchard  to  it’s name;  separating  part  of  the  fruits  and  keeping  them  aside  (in  the  name  of  a  deity)  immediately after  they  are  picked  up  from  trees  and  then  only  putting  the  rest  to,  one’s  use;  dedicating  some animals  from  among  the  whole  herd  to  a  deity  and  then  treating  those  animals  with  respect  by  not removing  them  from  the  fodder  and  water  and  not  to  strike  them  with  stick  or  stone;  observing customs  and  traditions  in  terms  of  dress  and  food  to  the  effect  that  a  specified  group  of  people should not  eat  such and such food and should not  wear  such and such dress;  attributing  the  virtues and  evils  of  the  world  to  them  by  making  such  statements  that  as  long  as  that  particular  person has  been  cursed  by  that  particular  deity,  he  has  gone  mad  or  that  certain  person  has  turned  into  a handicapped  person  due  to the  fact  that  he  was  driven away  by  that  deity  or  by  saying  that  as  long as  that  person  was  blessed  by  a  certain  saint,  he  is  now  on  a  flood  tide  of  success;  or  that  famine was  wrought  by  that  star  or  by  observing  that  this  assignment  was  not  accomplished  as  long  as the  same  was  commenced  at  a  certain  time  and  on  a  certain  date  or  by  observing  that  if  Allah  and His  Prophet  will  it,  one  would  be  coming;  or  by  saying  that  it  will  happen  if  one’s  religious mentor  wishes  it  to  take  place  or  using  such  adjectives  like,  the  Sustainer,  Independent,  Lord  of lords,  the  Master  of  the  universe  or  the  King  of  kings  etc.;  the  undertaking  of  an  oath  in  the  name of  the  Prophet  or  the  Qur’an  or  Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) or  an  Imam,  or  a  religious mentor  or  their  graves  or  one’s  own  self  etc. All  the  above  practices  generate  Shirk  which  is  called  a  ‘Shirk  in  day-to-day  chores’,  which implies  paying  one’s  respect  to  an  entity  other  than  Allah  exactly  in  the  same  manner  as  the  one prescribed  for  Allah.

Shattering the Myth that Shah Isma’il Shaheed rahimahullah was a Wahhabi

[By Saad Khan]

A salient feature of the innovators of this age is to hurl charges of “Wahhabism” against the great scholar, muhaddith[1], sufi, reformer and mujahid, ‘Allamah Shah Muhammad Isma’il Shaheed Dehlwi (rahmatullah alayh). It is interesting to note that when in 1821 Shah Isma’il Shaheed and Sayyid Ahmad Shaheed (rahimahumullah) left for Hajj[2] along with 757 of their followers, the Holy Lands were under Ottoman rule and the followers of Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab had already been driven out. They had managed to control the Holy Lands for only a short amount of time. It would be contrary to logic and analogy to argue that Shah Isma’il Shaheed and Sayyid Ahmad Shaheed (rahimahumullah) were influenced by a movement whose influence did not prevail in the Hijaz and the Holy Lands. Rather, the followers of Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab were vilified and defeated.

It is unlikely therefore that in such an atmosphere the two respected shaykhs were influenced by an ideology which not only lacked influence in the region but was at the same time ostracized and demonized.

To show the fallacy of this claim, it would be beneficial to list those issues over which there is difference between Shah Muhammad Isma’il Shaheed and what the followers of Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab generally believe. It will become clear to the readers that these charges of Wahhabism have no basis.


In Taqwiyat al-Iman, Shah Isma’il Shaheed (rahimahullah) strongly condemned practices prevalent amongst the laymen where they would seek help from the saints by uttering statements such as “O Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir Jaylani! Give me something for the sake of Allah” – this is istighathah and completely impermissible.

Regarding such a practice he writes, “one should refrain from such statements which reek of shirk and are disrespectful towards Allah Most High” (Taqwiyat al-Iman, p.123).

However, regarding tawassul Shah Isma’il Shaheed (rahimahullah) states: “But if it is said, ‘O Allah, give me for the sake [i.e., for the sake of his close relationship to You and his virtuous deeds] of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir’, then this is allowed” (Taqwiyat al-Iman, p.123). He has also discussed the permissibility of tawassul in his book, Mansab Imamat.[3] Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab and most of his followers are, however, against this type of tawassul through the pious servants of Allah.

Sufi Orders

Shah Isma’il Shaheed (rahimahullah) was bay’ah in the Naqshbandi tariqah whereas many followers of Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab are against tariqah-based tasawwuf. He gave bay’ah to Sayyid Ahmad Shaheed (rahimahullah) at the advice of his uncle Imam Shah ‘Abd al-’Aziz Dehlwi (rahimahullah).

The Kitab al-Tawhid Myth

An unsubstantiated claim, by the likes of Maulvi Fadl Rasul Badayuni[4], is that Taqwiyat al-Iman is a commentary of Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab’s Kitab al-Tawhid. Maulana Muhammad Manzur Nu’mani (rahimahullah) mentions that only a person who has not read Kitab al-Tawhid can make such a bold and baseless claim. He adds that Taqwiyat al-Iman was written for the laymen of the subcontinent in a very simple and easy language but with Faruqi[5] grandeur; whereas the readership of Kitab al-Tawhid were those scholarly men from Najd, Hijaz, the Levant, Iraq, etc. whose minds were not clear regarding tawhid and shirk or they were supporters of some polytheistic or seemingly polytheistic practices.

Kitab al-Tawhid is an academic work unlike Taqwiyat al-Iman, which is aimed at laymen. The approach of Taqwiyat al-Iman is to list some verses of the Qur’an, few hadiths from Mishkat al-Masabih with an easy translation and a brief commentary. On the other hand, the commentary of the Qur’anic verses and hadiths in Kitab al-Tawhid is academic and much more detailed. Maulana Nu’mani mentions that keeping this in mind, a commentary of Kitab al-Tawhid in the language of Taqwiyat al-Iman would have exceeded more than 10 volumes ( Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab aur Hindustan kay ‘Ulama Haq, p.65-68).

While some, like Maulwi Ahmad Rida Khan, have claimed even more preposterously that Taqwiyat al-Iman is a translation of Kitab al-Tawhid! Any serious scholar can easily glean from reading the above two books that Molwi Ahmad Rida Khan had only heard the name of Kitab al-Tawhid but had not read it.

The issue of Wahdat al-Wujud

Al-‘Abaqat (Diffusions of Perfume), by Shah Isma’il Shaheed (rahimahullah), is one of the most comprehensive works on tasawwuf. ‘Allamah Shabbir Ahmad ‘Uthmani writes, “We have not found an elaboration of the laws of tajalli (divine manifestation – in Sufi terminology) and a realization of its essence in a manner the heart finds rest and by which the chest expands, in spite of an extreme search and intense investigation in the books of the Folk (i.e. Sufis), except what the magnificent ‘Allamah, the noble Gnostic, the incomparable [scholar] of his time and amongst his contemporaries, my master and my support, Muhammad Isma’il al-Shahid al-Dahlawi (Allah sanctify his soul) verified in his book Al-’Abaqat… an extremely rare book that has no equal.” (Fath al-Mulhim, 2:315) In this work, Shah Isma’il Shaheed (rahimahullah) discusses at length one of the most burning issues of tasawwuf, namely Wahdat al-Wujud and Wahdat al-Shuhud.

In this book Shah Isma’il Shaheed (rahimahullah) has reconciled the two views, and has shown that the difference is one of perception, arising from the difference in spiritual stations (maqamat). He has also differentiated between those Wujudiyyah Sufis who are orthodox Sunnis and those false Wujudiyyah who say, “there is actually nothing except this sensible universe characterized by existence”. He refers to them as “infidels, mischievous, heretics and the dirt of all the atheists”.

Good opinion of Shaykh al-Akbar

Shah Isma’il Shaheed (rahomahullah) refers to Muhyi al-Din ibn al-’Arabi (rahimahullah) as Shaykh al-Akbar and exonerates him from the view that he believed in the real unity between the Creator and the created. He writes in Al-’Abaqat, “They are the chiefs of the sufis and the leaders of the saints. At first sight, some utterances of the followers of the Shaykh seem to bear resemblance to the utterances of those who believe in the real unity (between the Creator and the created, ‘ainiyyah), but when all their utterances are examined thoroughly such resemblance vanishes.” On the other hand, followers of Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab did not have a good opinion of the Shaykh al-Akbar and go as far as declaring him a heretic.

Baseless charges of Anthropomorphism

Certain vile persons accuse Shah Isma’il Shaheed (rahimahullah) of anthropomorphism (tajsim) in the same way they accuse the followers of Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab. This is indeed a great slander against the Shaykh who was martyred in the path of Allah.

He states about Allah Most High, “By the perfection of His attributes, He is Independent of the praise of the praisers, and by the dignity of His essence (dhat), is above the description of the describers. The deep thoughts are burnt by the majesty of His Essence and the hard speculations are vanished under the dominion of His eminence. None is His partner in the attribute of Being and nothing is His co-sharer in the state of establishment (thubut).
The most eloquent failed to cover the field of His attributes and the master grammarians went astray in traversing the extensive regions of His essence. By the vastness of His essence He transcends both space (ihatah) and limitedness (taqyid)”. (Al-’Abaqat, XIV)

He writes in another place, “It has also been proven that the Necessary in relation to the possibilities cannot be characterized by attributes, such as, direction, the nearness and farness of place, conjunction and disjunction. It is also confirmed that there is no distance whatsoever finite or infinite between the Necessary and the possible” (Al-’Abaqat, p.43). He writes further, “By this tajalli (manifestation), it is proven, for the Divinity that it (Divinity) exists in the external, is neither confined to any direction (jihah) nor to any place. He is neither connected with anything nor is separate from it. He transcends the change in attributes, such as, the new knowledge and the will” (Al-’Abaqat, p.152). In other words, He is free from change in His attributes, because change occurs in relation to time and He is free of time.

Ash’aris and Maturidis are the people of truth

Shah Isma’il Shaheed (rahimahullah) referred to the Ash’aris and Maturidis as the people of truth. He writes, “It is also worth remembering that the learned in every science became divided and differed among themselves. That happened in two ways. One way was that the difference took place between the adherents of falsehood and the followers of truth. This difference is similar to the one found between the jurists of the Shi’ah and those of the Sunnis. Or it is like the difference seen between the Mu’tazilah and the Ash’aris. Or it is like the one observed between the atheists, who have identified Allah with [as] the Universe (Wujudiyyah Malahidah), and those wise ones [i.e., people of truth] who believe that Allah transcends the universe and the being (wujud) which is common to all existing things, [and that created beings are] simply a shadow of the real being (Wujudiyyah ‘Ufara’).

” … the other kind (second kind) of difference is one which is seen between the followers of truth themselves, such as, between the four Imams, or is found between the Ash’aris and Maturidis. … or is like the difference seen among the mystics of different paths. The decision in such cases is that each one of these groups is on the right path in many of the problems. ‘For everyone there is a direction to which he turns his face. Strive, then, to excel each other in good deeds.’ (Qur’an 2:148). He who followed any one of them succeeded in attaining his object.” (Al-’Abaqat, p.252-253)

Love of the Auliyah

Shah Isma’il Shaheed (rahimahullah) acknowledged different categories of the pious and the saints. He writes regarding these virtuous men, “But you all are, however, well aware that all the believers know for certain, that there are some persons who are named as the faithful witnesses of the truth (siddiqiyun) and the substitutes (abdal) in spite of the fact that, the Lawgiver has not formed any rule for the acquisition of the ranks of such persons, and has not invited the people to acquire them nor had held out any promise to the effect that by doing this action of by observing that litany, that rank will be achieved. It is believable that there are some other forms of perfection, the existence of which is supported by the mystical unveilings of the learned. Thus, to acknowledge them is a virtue and a sign of beauty…” (Al-’Abaqat, p.275) He has also discussed the existence of abdal, awtad, aqtab, nujaba‘ and ruqaba‘ in Mansab Imamat.

‘Allamah Anwar Shah Kashmiri’s (rahimahullah) defense of Shah Isma’il Shahid (rahimahullah)

Lastly, it would be beneficial to quote the statement of Imam Sayyid Anwar Shah Kashmiri (rahimahullah) regarding the lofty status of Shah Isma’il Shaheed and his works.

A Barelwi scholar wrote Izalat al-Khifa’ regarding the ‘ilm al-ghayb (knowledge of the unseen) of Allah’s Messenger (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam). Imam Anwar Shah Kashmiri(rahimahullah) penned a refutation titled Sahm al-Ghayb fi Kabd Ahl al-Rayb (The Arrow of the Unseen in the Heart of the People of Doubt)[6]. He writes in the prelude directly addressing the author of Izalat al-Khifa’, “Know that you cannot eliminate anything through which Allah guided the people at the hands of the Shaykh, the ascetic, the pious, the martyr, Mawlana Shah Isma’il. Do you think you can eradicate the mention of the one whose great life was certified by Allah? (indicating to the verse that the martyrs are alive) … Do you think anyone would abandon Taqwiyat al-Iman and Sirat Mustaqim[7] and follow an opinion whose stench returns to you like flatulence?”(Sahm al-Ghayb, p.2)

It should be obvious that the main cause behind these allegations of Wahhabism was Shah Isma’il Shaheed’s (rahimahullah) efforts to stamp out polytheistic practices and other innovations that had become widespread among the Muslim community. The innovators of the age described them as Wahhabis to tarnish their image among the Muslim community and halt the reformative work they were carrying out.



Al-’Abaqat (Diffusions of Perfume) – Shah Isma’il Shahid

Karwan Imam wa ‘Azimat – Abul Hassan ‘Ali Nadwi

Majmu’ah Rasa’il Chandpuri – Sayyid Murtada Hassan Chandpuri

Mawlana Muhammad Isma‘il Shahid aur un kay Naqid – Ikhlaq Husayn Qasimi Dahlawi

Sayyid Ahmad – Muhammad Hedayetullah

Sayyid Ahmad Shaheed say Hajji Imdadullah Muhajir Makki kay Ruhani Rishtay- Sayyid Nafis Shah al-Husayni

Shaykh Muhammad bin ‘Abd al-Wahhab aur Hindustan kay ‘Ulama Haq – Muhammad Manzur Nu’mani

Taqwiyat al-Iman – Shah Isma’il Shaheed


[1] During their two year stay in Hijaz, many scholars were granted khilafah by Sayyid Ahmad Shaheed (rahimahullah). Some of them include, (1) Shaykh Muhammad ‘Umar – ustadh of Shaykh ‘Abdullah Siraj, (2) Shaykh Sayyid ‘Aqil, (3) Shaykh Sayyid Hamza, (4) Shaykh Mustafa al-Hanafi, (5) Shaykh Shams al-Din al-Misri, (6) Shaykh Muhammad ‘Ali Hindi, (7) Khawaja Almas – a great saint from Madina, and (8) Shaykh Ahmad ibn Idris of Maghrib who had memorized whole of Sahih al-Bukhari with sharh of Al-Qastallani by heart. During their stay in Makkah, Shah Isma’il (rahimahullah) would give dars of Hujjat Allah al-Balighah and Mawlana ‘Abd al-Hayy al-Lakhnawi, khalifah of Sayyid Ahmad Saheed and son in law of Shah ‘Abd al-’Aziz al-Dahlawi (rahimahumullah), would give dars of Mishkat al-Masabih.

[2] The author of Nuzhat al-Khawatir , Hakim Sayyid ‘Abd al-Hayy Lukhnawi al-Hussaini (rahimahullah), writes, “One of his [Shah Isma’ils’] books is Mansab Imamat in which he has discussed the post of prophethood and imamah ; this book is unparalleled of its kind.”

[3] Mawlana Hakim Sayyid ‘Abd al-Hayy Hussaini (rahimahullah) writes regarding Molwi Fazl Rasul Badayuni, “He was a faqih who was argumentative and very biased in his beliefs, he was in constant opposition of the ‘ ulama , most far away from the Sunnah and an aid to bid’ah, he encountered the people of
haqq with his lies and innovations and was a lover of the world. He made takfir of Shaykh Shah Isma’il ibn ‘Abd al-Ghani Dahlawi and he accused Shaykh Shah Waliullah al-Muhaddith Dahlawi of being a Nasibi Khariji. And he accused and spoke ill of Shaykh Ahmad ibn ‘Abd al-Ahad al-Sirhindi [Mujaddid al-Alf al-Thani] who was the imam of the Mujaddidiyyah and he [Fazl Rasul] would say, ‘All of them are deviated and are leading others astray’.” (Nuzhat al-Khawatir , p.1065

[4] Shah Isma’il Shaheed (rahimahullah) inherited this from Imam Shah Waliullah Dehlwi (rahimahullah). The Imam’s lineage traces back to Sayyiduna ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) from his father’s side and to Sayyiduna ‘Ali (radhiyallahu anhu) from his mother’s side.

[5] Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah also talks about this booklet of Imam Kashmiri (rahimahullah). He specifically mentions that it was written in refutation of Barelwi ‘ aqidah that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) has the knowledge of ‘what was and what shall be’ (ma kana wa ma yakun ). (See Majmu’ah Rasa’il al-Kashmiri, p.24)

[6] Sirat Mustaqim is a record of the sayings of Sayyid Ahmad Shaheed (rahimahullah), compiled by Shah Isma’il Shaheed (rahimahullah) and Mawlana ‘Abd al-Hayy (rahimahullah). The book was originally compiled in Persian and first published in 1823; it was later translated into Urdu. It was translated into Arabic by Mawlana ‘Abd al-Hayy (rahimahullah), at the request Shaykh Hassan Efindi, the deputy sultan of Egypt, during their two year stay in Makkah and widely circulated among the ‘ ulama of Hijaz.