When the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said:
لَا تُطْرُونِي كَمَا أَطْرَتِ النَّصَارَى ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ فَإِنَّمَا أَنَا عَبْدُهُ ، فَقُولُوا : عَبْدُ اللَّهِ وَرَسُولُهُ
“Do not exaggerate concerning me as the Christians exaggerated concerning the Son of Mary. For verily I am His (Allah’s) slave, so say: ‘Allah’s slave and His Apostle.’” (Sahih al-Bukhari)
He ﷺ was apparently warning against the phenomenon which would come to characterize the Barelwi sect. The latter are distinguished by their apparently excessive love and praise for the Prophet ﷺ to the extent that they exaggerate concerning him as the Christians exaggerate concerning Christ Jesus. The Christians deviated in the matter of Christology, formulating as part of their dogma ideas such as that Jesus was fully divine, co-equal with God, and pre-existent. Similarly, from among this Ummah, the misguided Barelwi sect emphasize their unique beliefs that the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is Hadhir and Nadhir (omnipresent), that he possesses Ilm-al-Ghaib (omniscient), and that he is Mukhtar-i-Kull (omnipotent). However, where the Barelwis resemble quite closely the Christians in the latter’s doctrinal controversies of Christology, is their belief in the idea that the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is both literally Nur (Light) and Bashar (a mortal human). This reminds one of the Christian trinitarian doctrine that Jesus is both fully divine and fully human, as formulated in the Chalcedonian Creed of 451 CE. The Western Churches of Christianity proclaimed that Jesus possessed two different natures, i.e., divine and human, united in a hypostasis, or individual existence. Likewise, the Barelwis believe the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is simultaneously Nur (Light) and Bashar (Human). The rest of the Muslims affirm that the Prophet ﷺ is described as Nur metaphorically, meaning he is a source of guidance and spiritual illumination, not that he is literally made of Light like the Angels.
However, in order to prove their belief that the Prophet ﷺ is literally made from the ‘substance’ of Light they cite nothing but baseless and fabricated traditions including some which state that the Prophet ﷺ did not possess a shadow. Hence this belief in a ‘shadowless’ man is something unique to the Barelwis. Any rational person would question that if the Prophet ﷺ was ‘shadowless’, such an obvious sign of his truthfulness, why didn’t all of Arabia immediately accept him. Indeed, the idea that there was a man who didn’t possess a shadow would have become famed around the world as a great wonder. But the historical record is simply silent in this regard.
On the contrary, the fact that the Prophet ﷺ did possess a shadow is affirmed in an authentic Hadith, which is sufficient to refute the childish mythology of the Barelwis:
عَنْ عَائِشَةَ : أَنّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ كَانَ فِي سَفَرٍ لَهُ ، فَاعْتَلَّ بَعِيرٌ لِصَفِيَّةَ ، وَفِي إِبِلِ زَيْنَبَ فَضْلٌ ، فَقَالَ لَهَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ : إِنَّ بَعِيرًا لِصَفِيَّةَ اعْتَلَّ ، فَلَوْ أَعْطَيْتِهَا بَعِيرًا مِنْ إِبِلِكِ . فَقَالَتْ : أَنَا أُعْطِي تِلْكَ الْيَهُودِيَّةَ . قَالَ : فَتَرَكَهَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ ذَا الْحِجَّةِ وَالْمُحَرَّمَ ، شَهْرَيْنِ أَوْ ثَلَاثَةً ، لَا يَأْتِيهَا ، قَالَتْ : حَتَّى يَئِسْتُ مِنْهُ وَحَوَّلْتُ سَرِيرِي . قَالَتْ : فَبَيْنَمَا أَنَا يَوْمًا بِنِصْفِ النَّهَارِ ، إِذَا أَنَا بِظِلِّ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ مُقْبِلٌ
Sayyida A’isha (Allah be pleased with her) narrates that once while the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) was on a journey, the camel of his wife Sayyida Safiyya (Allah be pleased with her) fell ill. However, his other wife Sayyida Zaynab (Allah be pleased with her) had an extra camel. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said to Sayyida Zaynab: “The camel of Safiyya has become ill, can you lend her your extra camel?” She replied: “should I give that Jew?” (Sayyida Safiyyah was originally a Jew). So, (upon hearing this, the Messenger of Allah became upset and) deserted her for two or three months and he would not come to her. She says: “Until one day, at midday, I could see the shadow of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) approaching.” (Musnad Ahmad)