A Question Regarding Shaykh Ibn Al-Jawzi

AsSalamu alaikum wa rahmatu Allaahi wa barakatuhu Sidi Musa and Ikhwan

wa `alaykum al-salam

I have recently checked out a book translated from the arabic by Imam ibn Al-Jawzi rahmatu Allaah alaihe.  The name of the book is Kitab alAkhbar asSifat.  Are you familiar with this book and how sound is it?

I haven't heard of this particular book. It's possible that it is his book, even though I cannot find it listed among his works. It maybe be another of his books published under a different name, as Daf` Shubhat Al-Tashbih has been done. Can you give me more information on the book you checked out, such as the translator, publisher, date published, any manuscripts referred to? In any case, the title would more properly be "Kitab Akhbar Al-Sifat".

Whether or not the work is his, his thoughts concerning `aqidah are well known from his other works. Ibn Al-Jawzi is neither completely with the Asha`ris nor completely against them.

  Could you giv e a brief biography of Imam al-Jawzi and his standing among the Hanbali Madhab. 

Wasn't there one at the beginning of the book, and aren't there any on the Internet? A brief biography of someone like him would require pages, not paragraphs or sentences. Perhaps one of the readers already has his biography handy and can send it over from Jabal Qasyun.

Also, did he ascibr to the Athari aqidah because the trnalted book seems to point he delved into kalam in refuting the anthropomorphists and was therefore shunned by some of the Hanbalis of his day. 

Yes, some anthropomorphists did shun him during his day and after, and yet they still find him and his works indispensable. If using kalam to defend the `aqidah of the Salaf is blameworthy, then certainly the anthropomorphism--which is not only foreign to their madhhab but foreign to Islam itself--that some Hanbalis adopted is even more so.

If one wishes to argue that kalam is foreign to Imam Ahmad's program, then they should be honest and say the same about anthropomorphism in the various shapes and forms it has taken through the ages.

It also states he spoke highly of Ibn Aqil, I have a translation of Imam Ibn Qudamah where he refutes the aqidah of Ibn Aqil. 

Which book would that be, and how authentic is it? I'm neither surprised nor bothered if Ibn Qudamah or any other of Bani Qudamah refute some points of Ibn `Aqil, as every human being is subject to error, save the Prophets (Peace be upon them). They, like Ibn Al-Jawzi himself, had so much respect for their instructors that even if they refuted them in one science, they would still take from them in others.

When these scholars refuted each other's opinions, at least they would make sincere du`a for them, and at least they showed respect and concern for the people they were refuting.

And just curious: does he refute the `aqidah of Ibn `Aqil, or does he criticize the methodology of Ibn `Aqil and what it led to? Ibn `Aqil himself had some pretty harsh things to say about kalam in his later works, so perhaps what is being refuted is something earlier.

You should know in the post-Ibn Taymiyyah world of scholars like Ibn Muflih, you will find many statements agreeing with the Asha`irah that kalam is acceptable when it used as a tool for understanding the texts (see Al-Adab Al-Shar`iyah, Ibn Muflih, vol. 1).

Do you have any information on these subjects?  Jazakum Allaahu khayr.

Very little, I'm afraid.

And as always: Allah knows best.

wa al-salamu `alaykum