Awliya‘s Knowledge of the Ghayb (Unseen)

Shaykh Gibril Fouad Haddad

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We would like to hear from the “Salafi” opponents of Ahl al-Sunna which one, of Ibn Taymiyya or al-Harawi, they consider the greatest innovator for stating the above views. Are they placing Ibn Taymiyya among those who hold the beliefs of “the sect of the shi`a”? Or do they still claim that belief in the miracles of saints is a “sufi-doctrine”? Or do you still say that the “claims that the awliya’ have control over it. Of course they say by Allah’s will” is what the Shi`a believe but not the Sunni? Or is Ibn Taymiyya and al-Harawi using kashf to attain the above conclusions? And if they accept what Ibn Taymiyya and al-Harawi say, why don’t they accept the same from others if not because of partisanship and/or blind-following?

As for their claim that the awliya’ are not known, it shows ignorance of the Religion, whose sources are replete with their descriptions. We have already quoted from the Qur’an, the hadith, and the sayings of the Companions concerning their characteristics. Allah said: “O those who have believed! Be God-wary and stay with the truthful!” (9:119) and “Who comes against one of my walis, I declare war upon him!” (Bukhari). The Prophet said: “There are some among Allah’s servants who, when they swear by Allah, He vindicates them” (Bukhari and Muslim). Is all this referring to unidentifiable beings known to Allah alone? Ibn al-Jawzi in his Sifat al-safwa went so far as to call the saints “the very purpose of existent beings,” and if this is true how can they not be known or trusted?

The Friends of Allah and the Righteous are the very purpose of all that exists (al-awliya wa al-salihun hum al-maqsud min al-kawn), they are those who learnt and practiced with the reality of knowledge… Those who practice what they know, do with little in the world, seek the next world, remain ready to leave from one to the other with wakeful eyes and good provision, as opposed to those renowned purely for their knowledge but not for shunning the world and practicing devotion.65

The “Salafis” also object to the title of Ghawth or Arch-helper given to Shaykh `Abd al-Qadir al-Gilani and label it with innovation and shirk, claiming that it belongs only to Allah. When confronted with evidence to the contrary from the sound hadith, they remain speechless:

1. Bukhari narrates in his Sahih that our mother Hajar, when she was running in search of water between Safa and Marwa, heard a voice and said: “O you whose voice you have made me hear! If there is a ghawth (help/helper) with you (then help me)!” and an angel appeared at the spot of the spring of Zamzam.

2. Abu Ya`la, Ibn al-Sani, and Tabarani in al-Mu`jam al-kabir narrated that the Prophet said: “If one of you loses something or seeks help or a helper (ghawth), and he is in a land where there is no-one to befriend, let him say: “O servants of Allah, help me! (ya `ibad Allah, aghithuni), for verily Allah has servants whom he does not see.” Haythami said in Majma` al-zawa’id (10:132): “The men in its chain of transmission have been declared reliable despite weakness in one of them.”

3. Ahmad relates in his Musnad (4:217) that at the time of the greatest fitna of the Dajjal, when the Muslims will be at their weakest point and just before `Isa ibn Maryam descends at the time of salat al-fajr, people will hear a caller calling out three times: “O people, al-ghawth (the helper) has come to you!”

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