Imam Ahmad Raza Khan Qadiri (may Allah be pleased with him) identified the Wahhabis into 4 different groups, each guilty of denigrating Almighty Allah [Exalted is He] of His Prophet in some specific way.
The Wahhabiyya Imsaliyya and Wahhabiyya Khawatimiyya believed, according to Imam Ahmad Raza, that there exists a prophet like Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) in every one of the six levels of the earth besides this one, and that each one of these Prophets is the a Last and Final Prophet as was the beloved Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace). He suggested that these groups thereby denied that Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) was the best prophet of them all and that he was unique in his capacity as the Last Prophet.
Imam Ahmad Raza then charged Maulana Qasim Nanautawi [1833-79], a leading Sufi and founder of the Dar al-Ulum at Deoband, with denial of the finality of Muhammad’s (Allah bless him and give him peace) prophethood in a recent work. Nanautawi was quoted to effect that although the ignorant were under the impression that Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) is the last prophet in time, the discerning knew that prophetic superiority [fazilat] was unrelated to being first or last in time. Imam Ahmad Raza’s response to this was that belief in the temporal finality of Muhammad’s (Allah bless him and give him peace) prophethood was among the ‘fundaments’ of belief. Consequently those who belonged to this group were ‘followers of Satan the rebel (against Almighty Allah)’ [sarkash shaitan ke chele – Husam al-Haramain, pg 14].
The third group of Wahhabis was those Imam Ahmad Raza called the ‘Wahhabiyya Kazzabiyya’, who believed that Almighty Allah could lie. The leader of this group was said to be Rashid Ahmad Gangohi (d.1905), a founder and patron (sarparast) of the Dar al-Ulum at Deoband. The Imam alleged that he was a follower of Ismail Dehlawi, founder of Tariqa-e Muhammadiyya movement. The Imam’s argument against this group was that if one believed that Almighty Allah [Exalted is He] can lie, one could be inclined to doubt even the first half of the profession of faith [the kalima].
Imam Ahmad Raza Khan Qadiri’s (may Allah be pleased with him) fourth group, which he called the ‘Wahhibiyya Shaitaniyya’, were explicitly described as followers of Satan. Led once again by Rashid Ahmad Gangohi, this group, he said, believed that Satan’s [Iblis] knowledge was more vast than that of the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace), and that Muhammad’s (Allah bless him and give him peace) knowledge of the unseen [ilm-e ghaib] was only partial. The question of the beloved Prophet’s knowledge was one that interested Imam Ahmad Raza very deeply. He devoted the greatest part of Husam al-Haramain to rejection of what he viewed as slights on the Prophet’s knowledge, and wrote extensively in other fatawa [one of these, Daulat al-Makkiyya bi’l Madat al-Ghaibiyya, was written during the same 1905-6 hajj as Husam al-Haramain] in defence of his views on the matter.
Two more Deobandi ulema, Khalil Ahmad Ambethwi and Ashraf Ali Thanawi, were singled out and accused of kufr for statements they had made in recent writings.
Apart from the space and level of detail entered into by Imam Ahmad Raza on the ‘ilm-e ghaib’ issue, his citation of sources also indicates how important it was to him to defend the beloved Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) on this score. Central to his argument that Almighty Allah [Invisible and Exalted is He] had gifted knowledge of the unseen to the Prophet was this verse from the Sacred Quran [72:26,27]:
‘He [alone] knows the Unseen, nor does He make any one acquainted with His mysteries, except an Apostle whom He has chosen’ [Yusuf Ali translation].
As Imam Ahmad Raza considered the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) to be the most beloved of Almighty Allah’s prophets, it followed that Muhammad Mustapha (Allah bless him and give him peace) must have been one of the messengers referred to in these verses. He defended his view, in addition, with quotation works of fiqh, and rejection of a hadis in which the Prophet is reported to have said that he didn’t even know what lay behind a wall. [The sources cited were Allama Khafaji’s Nasim al-Riyaz and Shihabuddin Ahmad Hajar Makki’s (d. 1565/66) Afzal al-Qura. The hadis in question was apparently mentioned in Barahin-e Qatiyya in defense of the denying that the Prophet had ilm-e ghaib. Imam Ahmad Raza maintained that this hadis was baseless (be-asl) and had been declared to be so by Abdul Haqq Muhhadis Dehlawi (d.1642) in his Madarij al-Nubuwwa.]
It is evident from this somewhat simplified summary by Dr. Usha Sanyal of Imam Ahmad Raza Khan Qadiri’s (may Allah be pleased with him) takfir of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and the Deobandi ulema named in Husam al-Haramain that the grounds for the charges related largely [though not wholly, given the debates centered on Allah’s transcendence] to the beloved Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace). Specifically, Imam Ahmad Raza interpreted the various statements quoted to imply denial of Muhammad’s (Allah bless him and give him peace) superiority to all other prophets, denial of the finality of the Prophet’s prophethood, belief in the superiority of Satan’s knowledge to Muhammad Mustapha (Allah bless him and give him peace), and denial of the fact – indisputable to Imam Ahmad Raza – that Muhammad Mustapha (Allah bless him and give him peace) had been granted knowledge of the unseen by Almighty Allah [Exalted is He].
For these reasons, Imam Ahmad Raza Khan Qadiri (may Allah be well pleased with him) regarded the above ulama as kafirs and apostates from Islam [murtadds], followers of Satan rather than Almighty Allah.
The Satanic imputation was in fact frequent throughout the fatwa. The words most used to describe Satan were ‘liar’, ‘false’, and ‘deceitful’. It comes as no surprise that such epithets could be used to describe Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, whom Imam Ahmad Raza Khan described as the worst kafir then living in India. It does not surprise one, however, to find that Maulana Qasim Nanautawi, accused of denying the temporal finality of Muhammad’s (Allah bless him and give him peace) prophethood, was a follower of Satan: "Satan has planted the deceit in their hearts", Imam Ahmad Raza wrote of those who accepted Nanautawi’s leadership. Maulana’s Rashid Gangohi and Khalil Ahmad Ambethwi were similarly described, for their alleged belief that Satan’s knowledge exceeded that of the Prophet. In fact, they were said to go as far as to associate Iblis with Almighty Allah [Exalted is He].
Imam Ahmad Raza Khan Qadiri’s (may Allah be pleased with him) portrayal of Satan as engaged in artfully luring the believer away from obedience to Almighty Allah and His Prophet, towards disobedience and hence kufr appears to have been largely based on hadis literature. Such portrayals can be found in the Malfuzat. In one instance, Imam Ahmad Raza says that if one eats or drinks without saying ‘Bismillah’, Satan will enter the food. Or again, Satan and his followers are portrayed exchanging news with one another at the end of the day as to the number of people they were able to mislead astray that day. [See Malfuzat, Volume 2, pp. 92-3; Vol 3, pp. 22-4.]
As Peter J. Awn explains in his study of the Satan motif in Islamic literary sources, hadis literature depicts him as ‘evil, cunning, and wily; his delight is to lead mankind astray’. Mankind experiences Satan as a constant presence throughout life, for he is ‘part of man’s very lifeblood’. One has therefore to be watchful at all times, waking and sleeping, against Satan’s snares. [Peter J. Awn, Satan’s Tragedy and Redemption: Iblis in Sufi Psychology]. As Imam Ahmad Raza saw it, the fact that the ulema mentioned in Husam al-Haramain had taken the positions they had, in illegal denigration of Almighty Allah and His most Beloved Prophet, was proof that they had fallen victim to Satan’s wiles. And because following Satan was the antithesis to following Almighty Allah [Exalted is He] and the beloved Prophet [Allah bless him and give him peace], they were necessarily kafirs.