The Difference Between Kashf, ilham, Ghaib, & Karamat By Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi
Compiled By: Mufti Umar Anwar Badakhshani
The ruling of kashf (manifestation)
Many things which are merely makshoof (established through kashf) and famous, whereupon their not being a proof is established by valid Shari substantiation – to have a firm belief in their meaning and import, or to adhere firmly to their practice, or to regard them as being an object in itself, as we see in many matters nowadays, is excessiveness in Deen (Ghuloo fid Deen).
If kashf is not conflicting with the Shariah, then it holds two possibilities, either correct or not, regardless of whether this is one’s own kashf or that of some Akaabir. [Bawaadirun Nawaadir, page71]
The ruling of Masail-e-kashfiya
One trait of Masaail-e-kashfiya is that it does not conflict with the Nass (text of the Quran and Sunnah). That is, there is no Nass that contradicts or negates it. An effort will be made to endorse it with Shariah. If there is a possibility that it can be accommodated into some Nass (text of the Quran and Sunnah), then it will remain at the level of being a possibility. If it is regarded as anything more or higher than this, then it will be ghuloo (excessive). If it bears no semblance or finds no endorsement in the Nass and then to claim it to be endorsed, will be nothing other than Tahreef (altering) the Nass.
However, if this claim is not done as a tafseer (interpretation) or taweel, but rather as a form of ilm al-Aitebar (Consideration), then if that ruling is endorsed by some other Nass, then that Aitebar will be considered and valid, but if it is not endorsed by another Nass, then it will be takalluf (exaggerated). [Al-Bawaadir, page 784]
Two types of kashf-e-Quloob
There are two types of kashf-e-quloob:
1) One which is purposely directed towards another person to ascertain his faults. This is impermissible. It is a form of spying because spying is exactly that when someone tries to hide his faults and wrongs and you try to divulge and unearth them.
2) The second is when it occurs involuntarily. This is a karamat (miracle). [Dawaat Abdiyat, page 136, vol. 19]
The ruling of Ilham (inspiration) & Kashf (manifestation)
Issues of kashf are not in any level proof in the Shariah. The only upside of it is that if it does not conflict with the Shariah, then the person upon whom the kashf manifested itself, and his followers, may practice upon it. They cannot be dogged on its execution. Its non-observance may result in worldly harm and not harm in the hereafter. [Husn Azeez, page 520]
To oppose ilham may result in some worldly castigation, like illness or some other misfortune, but not so in the hereafter, because ilham is not a valid proof for the Shariah, hence its opposition is not a sin, which warrants punishment in the hereafter. However, opposition to wahi (divine revelation to a Prophet) is a punishable offense in the hereafter. [malhoozaat, page 181]
The definition of karamat (miracles)
Karamat is that act that is manifested at the hands of a true follower of Prophet (SAW), which defies nature. If the act is not contrary to the normal (i.e. not miraculous), then it is not a karamat. If this person (who carries out a supernatural act) is not a follower of Prophet (SAW), then it is not termed a karamat, like the tricks and magic of the magicians, etc. [Bawaadir, page 78]
The difference between istidraj, Kashf & Karamat
Karamat is the term given to that supernatural act that is manifested at the hands of a pious follower of the Prophet (SAW). If the act is not of a supernatural nature and just a normal one, then this is not karamat. If any supernatural act is displayed by someone who is not a follower of Prophet (SAW), like an astrologer, magician, etc. or if he claims to be a follower but is not a practical adherent to the Sunnat, like a faasiq, faajir or ahle bid’ah, then this is also not karamat, but it is called istidraaj. A karamat is only that (miraculous act) which is manifested at the hands of a person with perfect Taqwa. [Tajdeed, page 91]
The difference between Kashf & Firasat (insight/sagacity/intuition)
A graduate from a famous Madrasah once asked the difference between kashf and firasat. The reply was that whatever knowledge was derived through kashf cannot be used a proof, but can be taken in a literal sense, whereby contentment may be derived. Contrary to firasat, because this can in a sense be used as proof (for a Shari ruling), although ilm-e-dharoori (necessary/essential knowledge) is part of it. In essence, that knowledge which is derived from firasat is a combination of ilm-e-dharoori and ilm-e-istidlaali, where the major part is the former and the latter is overwhelmed by it. Firasat is initiated by ilm-e-dharoori, thereafter in order to understand the ruling, and whether whatever we understand by it is correct or incorrect, can only be deduced by observation (reflection and investigation). Although that observation will not be of the level of istidlaal (proof), however, it is very similar to it.
No observation (reflection and investigation) is required for kashf, its validity or unsuitability is self-evident. [Ifadhat, page 207-8, vol. 10/ Husnul Azeez, page 195, vol. 2]
The difference between Aql (intellect/rational) & Kashf
The effectiveness and limit of the aql reach to that of kashf. However, the difference is that the similarity and likeness of kashf is to that of a telephone where clear words are heard and the likeness of the aql is to that of a telegraph, where a small bit of observation (reflection and investigation) is also necessary. [Ifaadhaat, page 207, vol. 10]
The difference between ilm-e-ghaib (knowledge of the unseen) & kashf
There are two meanings to ghaib: haqiqi and idaafi.
Haqiqi is when there is no means present in the acquisition of knowledge. This is special to Allah only. This acquisition is impossible for the servant, both according to Shariah and logically.
Idaafi is where a part of knowledge is revealed through some means and a part is hidden. This is possible for the servant through the revelation by Allah. Therefore there is a difference between the former meaning of ghaib and kashf, but insofar as the second meaning of ghaib there is no difference between the two.
Kashf is acquired through some concentration and even without concentration. Sometimes even with concentration, it does not come. This, therefore, means that it is an involuntary matter. This is the same definition that will apply to kashf of the graves. [Imdadul Fatawa, page 144, vol. 5]
Source: Fiqh Hanfi kay usool o zawabit by Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi