Those Who Attack Al-Kawthari
by Sh. G. F. Haddad


A word about those who attack one of the most recent Renewers of Islam and Friend of God in our history.

Zahid al-Kawthari is well-known

This is Imam Muhammad Zahid ibn Hasan al-Kawthari al-Hanafi al-Ash`ari al-Naqshbandi (1296-1371), the adjunct to Mustafa Sabri Basha (the last Shaykh al-Islam of the Ottoman Dawla) and a major Hanafi jurist praised by Imam Muhammad Abu Zahra as a Reviver (mujaddid) of the fourteenth Islamic century. He studied under his father as well as the scholar of Qur'an and hadith Ibrahim Haqqi (d. 1345), Shaykh Zayn al-`Abidin al-Alsuni (d. 1336), Shaykh Muhammad Khalis al-Shirwani, al-Hasan al-Aztuwa'i, and others. When the Islamic Caliphate fell thanks to the combined efforts of Zionists, Wahhabis, and the Republican Turks he moved to Cairo, then Sham, then Cairo again until his death, where the late Shaykhs `Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghudda and `Abd Allah al-Ghumari became his students.

A tireless scholar, there is apparently no field of the Islamic sciences in which al-Kawthari did not have a well-founded claim to authority. He edited and brought back into circulation countless classical books of fiqh, hadith, and usul after he moved to Cairo. A staunch Ash`ari, he held an extremely critical view of literalists and considered Ibn Taymiyya an unmitigated anthropomorphist.

for reviling Sahaba, for he accused Sayyiduna Anas ibn Malik, the great Sahabi, of senility

Al-Kawthari never reviled the Sahaba.

The charge that he imputed senility to our Master Anas ibn Malik Allah be well-pleased with him! - is true. He said in Ta'nîb al-Khat.îb (orig. ed. p. 80=1990 ed. p. 158-159=1998 ed. p. 129): "The narration of the braining [of the young girl by a Jewish robber who was then brained in requital] is related [by al-Bukhârî and Muslim] from Anas alone in the time of his senility, just as he is alone to relate the drinking of the urine of the camels in Qatâda's narration [in S.ah.îh. Muslim] and the account of the punishment of the 'Uraniyyîn [by mutilation and blinding in S.ah.îh. Muslim]."

This imputation of senility specifically to Anas is not baseless and the scandalized reaction of the "Salafi" al-Mu`allimî in al-Tankîl (1:63-64) seems overdone and disingenuous (as is his blind imitation by the internet revivers of those dead and buried debates). Al-Khat.îb narrated in his Jâmi' li Akhlâq al-Râwî (2:474 #1999), chapter 46 entitled "Ceasing Narration in Old Age Lest Memory is Affected and the Mind Becomes Confused": "Abû Muh.ammad al-H.asan ibn `Abd al-Rah.mân ibn Khallâd said: 'If the h.adîth scholar lives a long life, I find it preferable that he stop transmitting narrations at the age of eighty, for it is the period of senility.'"

Yet Imam al-A`zam Abû H.anîfa - Allah be well-pleased with him - did narrate from Anas - who died at the age of 103 - a full twenty h.adîths in his Musnad according to al-Qârî in Sharh. Musnad Abî H.anîfa through the following Tâbi'în: H.ammâd ibn Abî Sulaymân (1), al-Zuhrî (3), Muh.ammad ibn al-Munkadir (1), Yah.yâ ibn Sa'îd (2), al-Haytham and Rabî'a (1), Ibrâhîm al-Nakha'î (2), Yazîd ibn 'Abd al-Rah.mân (2), Sufyân ibn Talha (1), 'Abd al-Karîm ibn Umayya (1), al-Haytham ibn Habib (1), Muslim ibn Kaysan (2), 'Abd al-Rah.mân ibn H.azm (1), and al-Qâsim ibn 'Abd al-Rah.mân (2).

As al-Kawtharî said in his response to al-Tankîl entitled al-Tarhîb bi Naqd al-Ta'nîb (1990 ed. p. 415=1998 ed. p. 337-338): "All I did concerning Anas (ra) was convey the method of Abû H.anîfa in selecting some of his narrations [i.e. those which he is not alone to narrate]. This is well-known in the books of the people of learning, and does not constitute an aspersion against Anas." So the real reason for al-Kawtharî's remark on Anas is not "for relating a h.adîth that contradicts the school of Abû H.anîfa" as claimed by al-Ghumârî - Allah forgive him!-, but because the method of Abû H.anîfa in h.adîth narrators was primarily precaution (al-ihtiyât).

Furthermore, Anas's narration of the braining conveys a ruling that is contradicted by the sound h.adîth "No capital requital except by the sword" (lâ qawad illâ bil-sayf) narrated from five Companions - Abû Bakrah, al-Nu`mân ibn Bashîr, Ibn Mas`ûd, Abû Hurayra, and `Alî ibn Abî T.âlib - Allah be well-pleased with them - so that the ruling of the retributive braining not only "contradicts the school of Abû H.anîfa" but also that of al-Sha`bî, al-Nakha`î, al-H.asan al-Bas.rî, and Sufyân al-Thawrî as pointed out by al-`Aynî in in his commentary on al-Bukhârî's S.ah.îh. entitled 'Umdat al-Qârî (9:597-598) (Kitâb al-T.alâq, Bâb al-Ishâra fî al-T.alâq). And Allâh knows best.

al-Kawthari, the flagbearer of Ash'arites, also attacked on Sayyiduna Amir Mu'awiya, another great Sahaba, (a major rawi). (see Kawthari's footnote on Asma wa sifat 421-423, Tabdeed al-Dhalaam p. 94-96, Maqalaat al-Kawthari page. 349)

These are another three lies. In the first and second references Imam al-Kawthari was not speaking of Mu`awiya ibn Abi Sufyan but Mu`awiya ibn al-Hakam and he never "attacked" him but only said that there is great discrepancy in the wordings of his narration of the black slave-girl hadith. As for the third reference there is no mention of any Mu`awiya on that page but only a discussion on the evil of Qadyanis, Isma`ilis, and other Batini sects.

Who does al-Kawthari defend ?
al-Kawthari is a staunch defender of Jahm ibn Safwan ( the founder of the heretical sect: Jahmis , who was executed ) ( al-Kawthari in Intro to Tabyin al-Kadhib al-Muftari page 12 )

Another transparent lie. Al-Kawthari said that Jahm was a person of many innovations, among them the belief that the Qur'an is created and that Hellfire will not be eternal. (Note that the latter was also the belief of Ibn Taymiyya.) Then al-Kawthari remarked that beyond these two specific heresies and the fact that he exaggerated in refuting the anthropomorphist Muqatil ibn Sulayman, not everything that was attributed to Jahm is actually true. To call this correct precision a "staunch defense of Jahm" is reminiscent of the Ahl al-Kitab's childish attempt at hiding the verse of stoning when the Prophet ﷺ summoned them to read it.

He attacked on the noble lineage of Imam Shafi ( al-Ghumari in Bida` al-Tafasir p. 180-181)

Al-Ghumari only said that al-Kawthari cast an aspersion and gave as his reference al-Kawthari's Ihqaq al-Haqq. It is true that al-Kawthari cast an aspersion although he never "attacked the lineage of Imam al-Shafi`i" but only said: "The fact that he is from Quraysh according to his followers...." This last clause, "according to his followers," is unworthy of al-Kawthari and may Allah reward al-Ghumari for bringing it to his attention. But note the reply of al-Kawthari: "A fanatic rebutting a fanatic." As al-Ghumari said: al-Kawthari acknowledged being guilty of fanaticism in this matter. This is a good point and may Allah reward him, and He would have probably rewarded him more if he had shown remorse and not just acknowledged his mistake.

Who was the second fanatic in al-Kawthari's phrase? Imam al-Haramayn Ibn al-Juwayni in his pro-Shafi`i and anti-Hanafi/anti-Maliki tract "Mugheeth al-Khalq" which is one of the books that ought to disappear forever for its sectarianism and meanness. I felt sick the day I read it and sped up until I felt relief that it was behind me. May Allah forgive him. Truly, "a Scholar never adorned him/herself with a better trait than fairness." In this respect, as well as in hadith Mastership and perhaps fiqh also, I wonder whether al-Kawthari necessarily comes second to Imam al-Haramayn although the latter was considered a second al-Shafi`i (dare I say "by his admirers") but may Allah have mercy on all of them. The droplets of their defects disappear in the Niagaras of our mediocrity.

He attacked Imam Ahmed Bin Hanbal ( Ta'nib page 206)

Never. He only remarked that there were more mistakes of Arabic in the texts reported from Imam Ahmad by Abu Dawud, al-Kawsaj, and `Abd Allah ibn Ahmad than there are in the texts reported from Imam Abu Hanifa although certain critics claimed to detect linguistic mistakes only in the latter's discourses. Al-Kawthari concludes: "Why then do they focus so much on the supposed linguistic mistakes of Abu Hanifa except out of blameworthy fanaticism??" May Allah reward him.

Furthermore, the objector means page 26, not page 260. Evidently - unless he tries to add tadlees of the pages to lying outright - all this unworthy material he took from books of vulgarization and hasn't the faintest idea of the original works being discussed. But {the devils do inspire their minions to dispute with you} (6:121).

He attacked Imam al-Bukhari (ta'nib of al-Kawthari page 76)

Al-Kawthari never attacked Imam al-Bukhari but only his characterization of Imam Abu Hanifa in al-Tarikh al-Kabir - it is known that al-Bukhari profoundly disagreed with the Imam in fiqh and refers to him in many passages of his Sahih under the terms "a certain person" (ba`du al-nas). See the long detailed discussion on the attackers of the Imam and the biases of their attacks in our "Vindication of the Imam Abu Hanifa" posted on the internet.

He attacked Imam Darqutni ( ta'nib page 244)

A lie, he only attacked Amir al-Mu'minin fil-Hadith Imam al-Daraqutni's outright weakening of Abu Hanifa. May Allah forgive al-Daraqutni, he showed bias for the Shafi`i School in this issue. The hadith Master al-Badr al-`Ayni, author of `Umdat al-Qari, a massive commentary on Sahih al-Bukhari, said in his commentary of al-Marghinani entitled al-Binaya Sharh al-Hidaya (1:709):

"From where does he [Daraqutni] take the right to declare Abu Hanifa weak when he himself deserves to be declared weak! For he has narrated in his Musnad [i.e. his Sunan] narrations that are infirm, defective, denounced, strange, and forged."

This is a serious charge made against al-Daraqutni as a narrator and other authorities have stated the same concerning him. Another hadith master, al-Zayla`i, said in Nasb al-Raya (1:356, 1:360): "al-Daraqutni's Sunan is the compendium of defective narrations and the wellspring of strange narrations... It is filled with narrations that are weak, anomalous, defective, and how many of them are not found in other books!" While the Maliki hadith Master Imam Muhammad ibn Ja`far al-Kattani said in al-Risala al-Mustatrafa (p. 31): "Daraqutni in his Sunan... has multiplied the narrations of reports that are weak and denounced, and indeed forged."

Ibn `Abd al-Hadi al-Hanbali wrote a large volume still unpublished on the merits of Abu Hanifa entitled Tanwir al-Sahifa bi-Manaqib al-Imam Abi Hanifa in which he said: "Among those who show fanaticism against Abu Hanifa is al-Daraqutni." It is quoted in Ibn `Abidin's Hashiyat Radd al-Muhtar (1:37). `Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghudda in his commentary of Abu al-Hasanat al-Lacknawi's al-Raf` wa al-ta`dil (p. 70 n.1) also said: "al-Daraqutni's fanaticism against Abu Hanifa is well-known" and he gives several sources listing the scholars who held the same opinion.

He is teaching hafidh Ibn Qudamah that the truth is with Mutazilites ( maqalaat of al-Kawthari 75-85)

Another sad lie, probably no-one in his time was harder on the Mu`tazili-philosophical wave at al-Azhar than Imam al-Kawthari.

al-Kawthari attacks numerous well-known scholars, Dhahabi, ibn Kathir, Ibn Abdul Hadi, etc....the list is very big one. I am writing a seperate article on the attacks of al-Kawthari on Sunni Scholars.

Al-Hamdu lillah for His continuously giving His Friends such as Imam al-Kawthari, in addition to the added rewards for their beneficial works after their deaths, the good deeds of their ignorant detractors and malicious slanderers.

Shaykh al-Allamah Mustafa al-Sabiri had a debate with Zahid al-Kawthari and concluded in his book mawquf al-Ilm 392/3 that Zahid al-Kawthari was a Qadriyya (Mutazilite Qadriyya)

And that the moon is made of blue cheese. Shaykh Mustafa Sabri Basha was the last Shaykh al-Islam of the Ottoman Caliphate (d. 1954 CE) - rahimahullah - and he appointed Imam al-Kawthari as his deputy, then was exiled with him to Cairo (where Shaykh `Abd al-Fattah took hadith and fiqh from both of them) where they both died. It is on his request that Imam al-Kawthari wrote many articles and refutations on various issues at that time and one mught say that there was no one alive on the face of the earth whom he trusted more for `ilm and haqq. But the business of Shaytan is to represent haqq as batil and vice versa.

The Position of Ahlussunnah is: QUR'AAN IS GHAYR MAKHLUQ [non-created] !!! Those who claim Qur'aan is created, are mostly Jahmis & Mutazila. This is well known to everyone.

It shows a lack of knowledge to mention what defunct groups believed "is well-known to everyone" while failing to mention what is far more timely, namely, that the Shi`is believe this.

Shaykhul Islaam Sakhawi said concerning Ibn Subki: as-Sakhaawee endorsed the following words about him, following his statement, "did any of the Hanbalees raise their heads (i.e. become prominent)": "This is from the strangest of things, and the most sectarian/partisan of attitudes, and this is why the Qaadee of our time, and Shaykh of the madhab al-Izz al-Kanaanee wrote under this statement, 'and likewise Allah did not raise the heads of the Mu`attila' and then he said about Taaj ad-Deen Subki, 'he is a man having little manners, lack of scholarly integrity, ignorant of Ahl as-Sunnah and their ranks.'" [ 'al- I`laan bi at-Tawbeekh liman Dhamma at-Taareekh' (94-95) of as- Sakhaawee]

It is ironic to say the least that the above passage is actually being quoted inside a text that all in all displays little integrity and less knowledge.

The passage in question in Imam al-Sakhawi's al-Tawbikh (p. 56-57 of the Dar al-Kitab al-`Arabi ed.) is about criticism by Imam Taj al-Din Ibn al-Subki of his teacher Imam al-Dhahabi. It is inside a series of excerpts from Ibn al-Subki's Tabaqat al-Shafi`iyya al-Kubra, one of the truly great masterpieces of Islamic literature. Al-Sakhawi considers that Ibn al-Subki exaggerated in his criticism of al-Dhahabi and cites al-`Izz al-Kinani's violent comments to show the counter-effect of those exaggerations. This never means that he approved of - even less endorsed - al-Kinani's comments.

Shaykh al-Islam, Qadi al-Qudat Ibn al-Subki may have gone too far against al-Dhahabi, but he is unanimously respected, especially in the fields of usul, Arabic, and hadith. Ibn Hajar himself said: "To realize Ibn al-Subki's high rank in hadith Mastership one only has to look at his Tabaqat." To call him ignorant or a "mu`attil" is no doubt a slip or a mark of ignorance and disrespect that does not speak well for the accuser.

Similarly, al-Sakhawi does not approve of all of Ibn al-Subki's criticism of al-Dhahabi or the excessive, sweeping barb against the Hanbalis ("Did any Hanbali ever merit to raise his head?...") at which al-Kinani took offense, but al-Sakhawi did approve of some of it as he states further down (p. 76): "He [Ibn al-Subki] went too far in his anti-Hanbali fanaticism as I showed before... although I do not exonerate al-Dhahabi from some of the charges he [Ibn al-Subki] brought against him." Al-Sakhawi probably quotes Ibn al-Subki as a historian more than anyone else in al-Tawbikh.

As for Qadi `Izz al-Din Abu al-Barakat Ahmad ibn Ibrahim ibn Nasr Allah al-Kinani al-`Asqalani al-Misri (800-876) he was perhaps the top Hanbali authority in Egypt at the time and a dear friend of al-Sakhawi. He was a student of al-`Iraqi and Ibn Hajar like al-Sakhawi. By the words "Shaykh of the Madhhab" al-Sakhawi means no other than the Hanbali madhhab since the context is the discussion of al-Dhahabi's enamoured stance towards the Hanbalis. And Allah knows best.

Hajj Gibril GF Haddad ©

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