Contents > Chapter 9: Knowledge of the Ghayb (Unseen) > Kashf



Unlike dreams, in which a person might see distant places or things whilst asleep, the term ‘Kashf’ refers to “seeing something distant, absent or from the Unseen in the state of wakefulness.” The Deobandis consider Kashf to be an important source of hidden information for their elders and Shaikhs.


Kashf of Paradise and Hell-Fire

The conditions of Paradise and Hell-Fire, and their inhabitants are from the matters of the Unseen. Our knowledge concerning this is limited to what has reached us through the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam). The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) was shown the Paradise and Hell in a state of wakefulness, as he (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “I saw in my place, everything which you have been promised. I even saw myself desiring to pluck a bunch (of grapes) from Paradise (and it was at the time) when you saw me moving forward. And I saw Hell and some of its parts crushing the others, when you saw me moving back; and I saw in it Ibn Luhayy[1] and he was the person who made the she-camels loiter about.”[2]


Such Visions have been granted specifically to the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam). As for others, then the Paradise is from the matter of the Unseen, about which Allah said, “So no soul knows what delight of the eye is hidden for them; a reward for what they did.”[3]


Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said that Prophet Moosa (alaihi as-salaam) said: “O my Lord, who has the highest position in Paradise?” Allah said, “Those whom I have chosen, and I have prepared the reward for them with My own Hands and sealed, and no eye has seen, no ear has heard, neither has it occurred to the human heart.”[4]


Yet Moulana Zakariyah claims in Mashaikh-e-Chist, “On the occasion of Khwaajah Ilw Mumshad Dinwari’s death, a Buzurg (Sufi elder) made Du’aa for Jannah (i.e. may Allah grant Hazrat Mumshad Paradise). Hazrat Mumshad laughed and said: “For 30 years, Jannah with all its adornments appeared before me, but I did not take a proper look at it even...”[5]


By alleging that their Shaikhs too see Paradise in a state of wakefulness, the Deobandis have claimed for their Shaikhs and Majzoobs that which was specifically granted to the Messengers. Furthermore, only Allah knows who are the inhabitants of the Paradise and Hellfire. “Say (O Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam)): ‘I am not a new thing among the Messenger (of Allah) (i.e. I am not the first Messenger) nor do I know what will be done with me or with you. I only follow that which is revealed to me, and I am a plain warner.”[6]


Narrated Kharija Ibn Zaid bin Thabit, Um Al-’Ala an Ansari woman who had given a pledge of allegiance to Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) told me, “The Muhajirin (emigrants) were distributed amongst us by drawing lots, and we got Uthmaan bin Mazun…We made him stay with us in our house. Then he suffered from a disease, which proved fatal. When he died and was given a bath and was shrouded in his clothes. Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) came, I said, (addressing the dead body), ‘O Aba As-Sa’ib! May Allah be Merciful to you! I testify that Allah has honored you.’ Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said, ‘How do you know that Allah has honored him?’ I replied, ‘Let my father be sacrificed for you, O Allah’s Messenger! On whom else shall Allah bestow His honor?’ Allah’s Messenger said, ‘As for him, by Allah, death has come to him. By Allah, I wish him all good (from Allah). By Allah, ‘Even though I am Allah’s Messenger, I do not know what Allah will do with me.’ “Um Al-’Ala added, “By Allah, I will never attest the righteousness of anybody after that.”[7]


‘Uthmaan bin Maz’un was a Sahabi (companion of Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam)), a Muhajir (emigrant from Mecca to Medina for the sake of Allah), a person of abundant righteous actions[8] and someone who died suffering from a fatal disease[9]. But despite of all these signs of good end, Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) reproached the Ansari women saying, ‘How do you know that Allah has honored him?’


The Messengers have the greatest knowledge and realization of the Majesty of Allah and therefore fear Him and refrain from saying anything in matters that are solely in the Hands of Allah.


Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) refrained from making assumption with regards to his own self, saying, ‘Even though I am Allah’s Messenger, I do not know what Allah will do with me.’ This saying of Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) is enough to realize the gravity of certifying Paradise and Hell-Fire for anyone.[10] But the Deobandis believe that some people by means of Kashf can see the position of others in Paradise and Hell-Fire.


Moulana Zakariyah mentions in Fazaail-e-Aamaal, Shaikh Abu Yazeed Qurtabi heard from someone that whoever recited it (the Kalimah: La-ilaha ill-Allah-ho) seventy thousand times he or she would be immune from the fire of the Hell. He completed a course accordingly for his wife and many other courses for himself. There lived a youth nearby who, it was said was ‘a man of Kashf’ and had the foreknowledge of the events of Paradise and Hell. One day it so happened that while sharing a meal with him he suddenly made a loud cry and began to gasp, and exclaimed that his mother had been cast into Hell (burning into the fire of Hell). Shaikh Qurtabi keenly observed the condition of the youth and decided to offer a course for his mother secretly so that the fact that the youth possessed a foreknowledge of the Unseen and the truth of his mother’s sad plight in Hell would be ascertained. The Shaikh said that he did it so secretly that nobody could knew it, except the Almighty, Allah. But the youth soon expressed his gratitude and said that now his mother had got rid of the Fire of Hell.[11]


In this story, the knowledge of the conditions of Paradise and Hell-Fire and the knowledge of future events is claimed for the so-called ‘man of Kashf’. He is also aware of the matters between Allah and his slaves, and therefore shows gratitude to Shaikh Qurtubi, even though Shaikh Qurtubi “did it so secretly that nobody could know it, except the Almighty, Allah.” 


There are more stories in Fazaail-e-Aamaal that support the deviated view that some Sufis can acquire the knowledge of the matters between Allah and His slaves, as in Fazaail-e-Darood Moulana Zakariyah says,


“One of my trusted friends narrated an event of a scribe of Lukhnow[12] who was habitual of writing Darood one time on a small notebook every morning before the start of his work. He was much worried at the time of his death and said, ‘I do not know how would I be treated.’ By chance a Majzoob (a saint totally absorbed in divine meditation) passed by him and on seeing his condition, he said, ‘Do not worry. The notebook has been presented before the Holy Prophet and is being accepted by him.’”[13]

“Hazrat Abdul Wahid says that for three nights he asked Allah to reveal to him here on earth who will be in companion in Jannah.” Subsequently, it was revealed to him that his companion in Paradise would be a woman named, Maimunah Sauda. He went to meet her in Kufa, and found her in the forest tending to her goats … Maimunah Sauda was praying when Abdul Wahid approached. She shortened her prayer and said, “Abdul Wahid! Not Today. Go Today. The promise of meeting is tomorrow (i.e. Qiyaamah)”. Abdul Wahid asked her how she had recognized him, upon which she said, “Don’t you know that in eternity all souls were gathered like an army. Those who had recognized one another there recognize one another here”[14]


Such stories are mentioned in the Fazaail-e-Aamaal, a book that serves as a training guide for the cadre of the Jamaat Tableegh and is highly revered by them. There is a widespread practice upon the recitation of the Kalimah seventy thousand times amongst members of the Jamaat Tableegh, even though the Deobandis claim that they do not base the Sharee’ah upon matters of Kashf.


The Fazaail-e-Aamaal, in the false guise of the virtues of righteous actions, exposes the common people to the dangerous extremism of Sufism. So we may not find clear statements in it like … “In this high stage of spiritual development, matters pertaining to the Thaat (Being), Sifaat (Attributes), Af’aal (Acts of Allah), Haqaaiq (realities) as well as relationships between Allah and His servants become manifest.”[15] …but we find the extreme Sufi beliefs being taught to the common people covertly and by way of virtues and stories.

[1] Amr Ibn Luhayy was the first man who changed the religion of Prophet Ismaeel (alaihi as-salaam) and fixed up idols at places of worship. He also started the evil practice of letting off she-camels after cutting their ears in the name of the idols.

[2] Saheeh Muslim (Eng. Trans.) vol.2, p.427, no.1968.

[3] Soorah as-Sajdah (32): 17.

[4] Saheeh Muslim (Eng. Trans.) no. 363.

[5] Mashaikh-e-Chist (Eng. Trans.) p.128.

[6] Soorah al-Ahqaf (46): 9.

[7] Saheeh al-Bukharee (Arabic Eng. Trans.) vol.9, p.109, no.131.

[8] The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said, “I do not know what Allah will do to him (Uthman bin Maz’un).” Um Al-’Ala said, “I felt very sorry for that, and then I slept and saw in a dream a flowing spring for ‘Uthman bin Maz’un, and told Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) of that, and he said, “That flowing spring symbolizes his good deeds.” [Saheeh al-Bukharee (Arabic-Eng. Trans.) vol.9, p.110, no.132.]

[9] Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said, “Five are regarded as martyrs, they are those who die because of plague, abdominal disease, drowning or a falling building etc., and the martyrs in Allah’s cause.”  [Saheeh al-Bukharee (Arabic-Eng. Trans.) vol.4, p.61, no.82.]

[10] “Allah has however forgiven the sins of His Messenger.” [Soorah Fath (48): 2] and has showed him his position in Paradise [Saheeh al-Bukharee vol.5, no.721] The Qur’aan and the Hadeeth also announce a general glad-tidings for the Sahabah, their followers, those who took the pledge of Ridhwan and those who fought in the battle of Badr.

[11] See, Fazaail-e-Aamaal, (Eng. Trans.), Virtues of Dhikr , Chapter.3 (Part - 3), p.59 (Edt. 1985, Published by Dini Book Depot - Delhi). A similar story can be found in ‘Malfuzat al-Bareilawi’, p.48. [See Bareilawis, p.297]

[12] a city in India.

[13] Fazaail-e-Aamaal, (Eng. Trans.), Virtues of Darood , Chapter.5, p.112-113. (Edt. 1985, Published by Dini Book Depot - Delhi) – also see, and Zaadus Saeed by Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (Eng. Trans. by Majlisul Ulama) p.15.]

[14] Fazaail-e-Aamaal, Virtues of Charity, (Eng. Trans.), Chapter.7, story no.62, p.217, (New Edition 1982, Published by Dini Book Depot - Delhi) and Mashaikh-e-Chist, (Eng. Trans.) p.106.

[15] Shariat and Tasawwuf, p.113.