Hâdir and Nâzir and the Divine Attributes

The Imam of Naqshbandiyya Hazrat Mujaddid Alif Thani Sheikh Ahmed Sirhindi writes:

Allah swt is aware of each and every minor and major condition and is HÂZIR and NÂZIR. (One should) feel contrite before Him.

The Divine Attributes are divinely ordained and non-inferable. Logic, reasoning, analogy, and other forms of interpretation are not relied upon to know an attribute but only Divine disclosure through the primary two sources of the Shari`a i.e. Qur'an and Sunna. This is an elementary point of `aqida that is present in most if not all books of `Aqida, including the Maturidi classics. So we cannot speak of al-Hâdir, while al-Nâzir is the same as al-Basir and al-Shahid. As for al-Hâdir it is precluded, because Hâdir in Arabic has the sense of a being physically present at a location, i.e. attributes of the created not the Creator. And Allah knows best.

Concerning the authentic statement of Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi - Allah sanctify his soul - that "[He] is Hâdir and Nâzir," there are many caveats to make concerning this:

1. Isolated statements cannot be used to invalidate a basic rule of Ahl al-Sunna in the Divine Names and Attributes, namely that spelled above and also in the forums and in several past posts related to al-Asma' wa al-Sifat.

2. Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi was careful to frame his statement within an affirmation of the sincere murid's consciousness of the all-encompassing nature of Divine Knowledge within the ladder of spiritual process in the Naqshbandi Tariqa. That is NOT the sense meant by those being objected to, nor the cautious style followed by those objecting.

3. Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi means something other than what those who use hadir in the Arabic language and in relation to the Prophet (s) mean. Namely, he means Hâdir NOT in the normal creatural sense of "present" but in the non-creatural sense of "Divine Knowledge of Things in their Essence" (al-`ilm al-huduri). This is explained by him at length in his epistle #48 of Volume Three to the Prince, Zadah Khwaja Muhammad Sa`id titled "The Secret of His Nearness and the Self-Disclosure of His Essence". And this is a highly peculiar, specialized sense that should be treated thus unless one is interested in making Shaykh Sirhindi say other than what he means.

4. Some of our contemporaries innovatively use the same phrase in terms of statements of `Aqida, giving rise to legitimate doubt as to what they mean by their use of the phrase, a doubt fortified by their adding provisions such as "Hâdir and Nâzir cannot be applied to anyone besides Allah."

5. Those who use Hâdir in relation to the Best of All Creatures, our Master Muhammad (s), mean it in the creatural sense of his noble soul or noble essence being physically and spiritually present wherever Allah Most High wishes. One who denies that the Prophet (s) can be present in that sense, has left Islam.

6. None of what the opponents bring up as supposed proofs actually invalidates the use of Hâdir for the Prophet among many other shared Names. For example, Allah Most High is Ra'uf and Rahim, and He is Nur, all three attributes being also given by Him in His Own Pre-Existent Speech - the Qur'an - to the Prophet (s) himself .

7. If it comes to scholarly quotations, they should accept that the attribute of Hâdir is applied to the Prophet by the Ulema of Ahl al-Sunna, for example Mulla Ali al-Qari in Sharh al-Shifa and countless others such as Shaykh Ahmad Zayni Dahlan, Shaykh Abu al-Hasan al-Shadhili, Shaykh `Abd al-`Aziz al-Dabbagh, and probably also by Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi himself - may Allah sanctify their secrets.

There is more to say on the topic but these are some of the main points from which I hope this discussion should gain.

Hajj Gibril

© 2003 as-Sunnah Foundation of America