Edited by Omar KN
Ah.mad ibn ʿAbd al-H.alīm ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Abī al-Qāsim ibn Taymiyya, Taqī al-Dīn Abū al-ʿAbbās ibn Shihāb al-Dīn ibn Majd al-Dīn al-H.arrānī al-Dimashqī al-H.anbalī (661-728) was one of the most influential scholars of the late H.anbalī school, praised by the h.adīth Master S.alāh. al-Dīn al-ʿAlā'ī as "Our shaykh, master, and Imām between us and Allāh Almighty, the master of verification, the wayfarer of the best path, the owner of the multifarious merits and overpowering proofs which all hosts agree are impossible to enumerate, the Shaykh, the Imām and faithful servant of his Lord, the doctor in the Religion, the Ocean, the light-giving Pole of spirituality, the leader of Imāms, the blessing of the Community, the sign-post of the people of knowledge, the inheritor of Prophets, the last of those capable of independent legal reasoning, the most unique of the scholars of the Religion, Shaykh al-Islām..."
A student of Ibn ʿAbd al-Dā'im, al-Qāsim al-Irbilī, Ibn ʿAllān, Ibn Abī ʿAmr al-Fakhr, Ibn Taymiyya mostly read by himself until he achieved great learning. Shaykh al-Islām, al-H.āfiz. al-Taqī al-Subkī said: "He memorized a lot and did not discipline himself with a shaykh." He taught, authored books, gave formal legal opinions, and generally distinguished himself for his quick wit and photographic memory.
Among his most noted students were the h.adīth masters Ibn al-Qayyim, al-Dhahabī, Ibn Kathīr, and Muh.ammad ibn Ah.mad ibn ʿAbd al-Hādī al-Maqdisī (705-744) as well as the H.anbalī jurist and h.adīth narrator Sirāj al-Dīn Abū H.afs. ʿUmar ibn ʿAlī ibn Mūsā al-Azjī al-Bazzār (688-749) who should not be confused with the h.āfiz. Abū Bakr al-Bazzār (215-292)!
Ibn Taymiyya's views and manners created intense controversy both in his life and after his death. Al-Sakhāwī in al-Tawbīkh (p. 61) noted: "Certain people gave rise to disavowal and a general reluctance to make use of their knowledge despite their stature in knowledge, pious scrupulosity, and asceticism. The reason for this was the looseness of their tongues and their tactlessness in blunt speech and excessive criticism, such as Ibn H.azm and Ibn Taymiyya, who were subsequently tried and harmed."
An illustration of Ibn Taymiyya's ambivalent status is the fact that, although the Shāfiʿī h.adīth Master al-Mizzī did not call anyone else Shaykh al-Islām in his time besides Ibn Taymiyya, Ibn Abī ʿUmar al-H.anbalī, and Imām Taqī al-Dīn al-Subkī, yet the H.anafī scholar ʿAlā' al-Dīn al-Bukhārī issued a fatwā that if anyone called Ibn Taymiyya Shaykh al-Islām they would commit disbelief and authored against the latter a book entitled al-Muljima li al-Mujassima ("Curbing the Anthropomorphists").
Ibn Nās.ir al-Dīn al-Dimashqī countered this fatwa by authoring al-Radd al-Wāfir, in which he listed all the authorities who had ever written in praise of Ibn Taymiyya or called him Shaykh al-Islām. Shaykh ʿAbd al-Fattāh. Abū Ghudda includes Ibn Taymiyya among the scholars who never married and extravagantly names him "Shaykh al-Islām and the Standard-Bearer of all standard-bearers" in his book al-ʿUlamā' al-ʿUzzāb, which he wrote after he took up residence in Najd.
In Bayān Zaghl al-ʿIlm al-Dhahabī states:
In the ʿIbar al-Dhahabī, after praising his teacher, states: "He also had some strange opinions on account of which he was attacked." Ibn ʿAbd al-Hādī in al-ʿUqūd al-Durriyya makes a similarly meandrous admission that his teacher was accused of innovation: "He gave vent to certain expressions whom early and late Scholars never dared use while he boldly indulged them."
In his biographical monograph al-Durratu al-Yatīmiyya fī al-Sīrati al-Taymiyya, al-Dhahabī reports that Ibn Daqīq al-ʿīd said, upon meeting with Ibn Taymiyya: "I saw a man with all the sciences [laid open] before his eyes, taking what he wished and leaving what he wished." Asked why he did not debate him, Ibn Daqīq al-ʿīd answered: "Because he loves to speak (yuh.ibbu al-kalām) and I love silence."
Imām S.alāh. al-Dīn al-S.afadī said: "The Shaykh, Imām, and erudite scholar Taqī al-Dīn Ah.mad ibn Taymiyya - Allāh have mercy on him! - was immensely learned but he had a defective intelligence (ʿaqluhu nāqis.) that embroiled him into perils and made him fall into hardships."
His first clash with the scholars occurred in 698 in Damascus when he was barred from teaching after he issued his Fatwā H.amawiyya in which he unambiguously attributes literal upward direction to Allāh (swt). He was refuted by his contemporary, Imām Ibn Jahbal al-Kilābī (d. 733), in a lengthy reply which Tāj al-Dīn al-Subkī reproduced in full in his T.abaqāt al-Shāfiʿiyya al-Kubrā. Ibn Jahbal wrote: "How can you say that Allāh is literally (h.aqīqatan) in (fī) the heaven, and literally above (fawq) the heaven, and literally in (fī) the Throne, and literally on (ʿalā) the Throne?!"
Qād.ī Yūsuf al-Nabahānī also refuted the H.amawiyya in his magnificent epistle Rafʿ al-Ishtibāh fī Istih.ālat al-Jiha ʿalā Allāh ("The Removal of Uncertainty Concerning the Impossibility of Direction for Allah (swt)") cited in full in his Shawāhid al-H.aqq (p. 210-240).
Ibn Taymiyya then returned to his activities until he was summoned by the authorities again in 705 to answer for his ʿAqīda Wāsit.iyya. He spent the few following years in and out of jail or defending himself from various "abhorrent charges" according to Ibn H.ajar al-ʿAsqalānī. Because he officially repented, his life was spared, although at one point it was officially announced in Damascus that "Whoever follows the beliefs of Ibn Taymiyya, his life and property are licit for seizure."
These events instigated great dissension among the scholars in Damascus and Cairo as detailed in Imām Taqī al-Dīn al-H.is.nī's Dafʿu Shubahi Man Shabbaha wa Tamarrad wa Nasāba Dhālika ilā al-Sayyid al-Jalīl al-Imām Ah.mad ("Repelling the Sophistries of the Rebel who Likens Allāh to Creation, Then Attributes This Doctrine to Imām Ah.mad").
Ibn Taymiyya at various times declared himself a follower of the Shāfiʿī school - as did many H.anbalīs in Damascus - and an Ashʿarī. Ibn H.ajar wrote in al-Durar al-Kāmina:
Another reason why Ibn Taymiyya was opposed was his criticism of S.ūfīs, particularly Shaykh Muh.yī al-Dīn Ibn ʿArabī, although he described himself, in his letter to Abū al-Fath. Nas.r al-Munayjī, as a former admirer of the Shaykh al-Akbar:
According to the S.ūfī Ibn ʿAbd al-Hādī in his Bad' al ʿIlqa bi Labs al Khirqa, Ibn Taymiyya also declared himself a follower of several S.ūfī orders, among them the Qādirī path of Shaykh ʿAbd al-Qādir al-Gīlānī on whose book Futūh. al-Ghayb he wrote a hundred-page partial commentary covering only five of the seventy-eight sermons of the book. In al-Mas'alat al-Tabrīziyya Ibn Taymiyya declares: "Labistu al khirqa al-mubāraka li al Shaykh ʿAbd al-Qādir wa baynī wa baynahu ithnān - I wore the blessed S.ūfī cloak of ʿAbd al-Qādir, there being between him and me two shaykhs."
Further charges of heresy were brought against Ibn Taymiyya for his unprecedented assertions on divorce pronounced in innovative fashion: he held (1) that a threefold formulation of divorce in a single sitting counted as one; (2) that divorce pronounced at the time of menses did not take place; and (3) that swearing an oath to divorce could be taken back through expiation (kaffāra), all in violation of the Consensus of the Four Imāms and others of the Salaf.
Shaykh al-Islām al-Taqī al-Subkī said: "Ibn Taymiyya has spread deceit in [affirming] the existence of a difference of opinion in the matter [of divorce], which is a lie, a fabrication, and impudence on his part against Islām. ... It has been affirmed by many of the scholars that he who opposes the Consensus (al-ijmāʿ) of the Community is a disbeliever (kāfir)."
After spending the years 719-721 in jail, he was jailed again in 726 until his death two years later amid charges of kufr for declaring that one who travels to visit the Prophet ﷺ commits a prohibition (h.arām), a sin (maʿs.iya), and an innovation (bidʿa).
Al-Mardāwī, Ibn Hubayra, and others stated that the entirety of the early and late authorities in the H.anbalī Madhhab stipulate the desirability (istih.bāb) of visiting the grave of the Prophet ﷺ in Madīna, most especially after H.ajj, and/or travelling to do so. Ibn Muflih., al-Mardāwī, and Marʿī ibn Yūsuf in Ghāyat al-Muntahā stated the Sunnī character of visiting the graves of the Muslims and the permissibility (ibāh.a) of travelling to do so. Marʿī reiterates this ruling in his unpublished monograph on the ethics of graves and visitation, Shifā' al-S.udūr fī Ziyārat al-Mashāhid wal-Qubūr.
This most notorious of all fatwas was refuted by his contemporary the h.adīth Master and Shaykh al-Islām Taqī al-Dīn al-Subkī in his landmark book Shifā' al-Siqām fī Ziyārati Khayri al-Anam ("The Healing of Sickness Concerning the Visitation to the Best of Creatures") , also titled Shann al-Ghāra ʿalā man Ankara al-Safar li al-Ziyāra ("The Raid Against Him Who Denied the Lawfulness of Travel for the Purpose of Visitation"). Shaykh al-Islām adduced the h.adīth "Whoever visits my grave, my intercession will be guaranteed for him" as proof against Ibn Taymiyya's claim that "all the h.adīths that concern the merit of visitation are weak or rather forged" and denounced Ibn Taymiyya's unprecedented fatwā as a flagrant innovation.
Imām Abū al-Fad.l Zayn al-Dīn ʿAbd al-Rahim ibn al-H.usayn al-ʿIrāqī al-Mis.rī (725-806), Shaykh al-Islām, the Imām, Qād.ī of Cairo, h.adīth Master of his time, and principal teacher to the h.adīth Master Ibn H.ajar al-ʿAsqalānī, said in al-Ajwiba al-Makkiyya, a refutation of Ibn Taymiyya's fatwā claiming the prohibition of travel to visit the Prophet ﷺ : "There is no tah.rīm (prohibition) of an act of travel in the h.adīth ["Mounts are not to be saddled except to travel to three mosques"]; rather, it is an emphasis on the importance of traveling to these three mosques in particular, and the emphasis becomes an obligation in case of vow (nadhr), which is not the case for a vow to pray in any mosque other than these three."
Al-ʿIrāqī further reacted to Ibn Taymiyya's claim that it was an innovation in the Religion to several battles generosity to relatives on the day of ʿāshūrā' with the words: "I find it strange that such words should come from this Imām, whose followers say that he has encompassed the Sunna in knowledge and practice.... One who has not heard of something should not deny that it exists!" Al-ʿIrāqī then proceeded to several battles that, on the contrary, it was a Sunna based on sound narrations from the Prophet ﷺ as well as the Companions and the Imāms of the Successors and the succeeding generations.
Imām Ibn H.ajar al-ʿAsqalānī in Fath. al-Bārī said of Ibn Taymiyya's fatwa prohibition to travel in order to visit the Prophet ﷺ : "This is one of the ugliest matters ever reported from him." In his marginalia on that work the "Salafī" scholar Bin Baz comments: "This was not an ugly thing but a correct thing for Ibn Taymiyya to say"!
Al-Qārī said in his commentary on ʿIyād.'s al-Shifā':
Another H.anafī Imām who wrote a major commentary on ʿIyād.'s Shifā', al-Khafājī, said of Ibn Taymiyya in relation to his heretical fatwa: "He imagined that he was defending monotheism with all kinds of nonsense which do not deserve mention for they do not originate from the mind of a rational person let alone an eminent one - Allāh forgive him!"
Also rejecting Ibn Taymiyya's fatwa as invalid are Shaykh al-Islām Ah.mad Zaynī Dah.lān in his books, Abū ʿAbd Allāh ibn al-Nuʿmān al-Maghribī al-Tilimsānī al-Mālikī in his Mis.bāh. al-Anām fī al-Mustaghīthīn bi Khayr al-Anām, Nūr al-Dīn ʿAlī al-H.alabī al-Shāfiʿī - the author of the S.īra H.alabiyya - in his Bughyat al-Ah.lām, both of them included in al-Nabahānī's H.ujjat Allāh ʿalā al-ʿālamīn among many other works on the topic of seeking means and asking the Prophet ﷺ (al-tawassul wa al-istighātha), al-Nabahānī with his Shawāhid al-H.aqq, Shaykh Muh.ammad ibn ʿAlawī al-Mālikī in Shifā' al-Fu'ād fī Ziyārati Khayr al-ʿIbād, al-Lacknawī's Ibrāz al-Ghay fī Shifā' al-ʿAy ("The Exposure of Deviation for the Healing of the Sick"), Shaykh ʿīsā al-H.ymiarī of Dubai, al-Sayyid Yūsuf al-Rifāʿī of Kuwait, and others.
A S.ūfī but anti-Ashʿarī student of Ibn Taymiyya and al-Dhahabī, Ibn ʿAbd al-Hādī, violently attacked Shaykh al-Islām al-Subkī in a refutation titled al-S.ārim al-Munkī fī Nah.r al-Subkī ("The Hurtful Blade in the Throat of al-Subkī") in which he "adopted the manner of fanatics and departed from the norms of the scholars of h.adīth" according to Shaykh ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz ibn al-S.iddīq al-Ghumārī. Ibn ʿAbd al-Hādī filled his book with unfounded accusations "in order to defend the innovations of his teacher.... It would have better been titled al-Shātim al-Ifkī ('The Mendacious Abuser')." Ibn ʿAbd al-Hādī falsely accuses al-Subkī of encouraging pilgrimage to the Prophet's ﷺ grave, prostration to it, circumambulating around it, and the belief that the Prophet ﷺ removes difficulty, grants ease, and causes whoever he wishes to enter into Paradise, all independently of Allāh (swt)!
Nuʿmān al-Alūsī also wrote an attack on both al-Haytamī and al-Subkī in his Jalā' al-ʿAynayn which he dedicated to the Indian Wahhābī S.ūfī, S.iddīq H.asan Khān, and in which, according to al-Nabahānī, he went even further than Ibn ʿAbd al-Hādī. Among the counter-refutations of these two works: al-Samannūdī's Nus.rat al-Imām al-Subkī, a monograph by al-Akhnā'ī, and al-Nabahānī's Shawāhid al-H.aqq. The latter cites the poems of two other critics of al-Subkī - the H.anbalī Abū al-Muzaffar Yūsuf ibn Muh.ammad ibn Masʿūd al-ʿUbadī al-ʿUqaylī al-Saramrī and Muh.ammad ibn Yūsuf al-Yumni al-Yāfiʿī, "who claimed to follow the Shāfiʿī school" - then proceeds to refute them together with Ibn ʿAbd al-Hādī's book.
The h.adīth "Whoever visits my grave, my intercession will be guaranteed for him" (Man zāra qabrī wajabat lahu shafāʿatī) is a fair (h.asan) narration as concluded by Imām Abū al-H.asanāt al-Lacknawī and his editor ʿAbd al-Fattāh. Abū Ghudda in the latter's notes on Mālik's Muwat.t.a' as per Muh.ammad ibn al-H.asan's narration (chapter 49: On the Prophet's ﷺ grave) as well as Shaykh Mah.mūd Mamdūh., although some early scholars had declared it sound (s.ah.īh.) such as Ibn al-Sakan in al-Sunan al-S.ih.āh. and ʿAbd al-H.aqq al-Ishbīlī in al-Ah.kām, followed by Shaykh al-Islām al-Taqī al-Subkī in Shifā' al-Siqām in view of the totality of the chains. Other h.adīth scholars who considered it authentic are Ibn H.ajar's student the h.adīth Master al-Sakhāwī, the h.adīth Master of Madīna Imām al-Samhudi and Shaykh al-Islām al-Haytamī in al-Jawhar al-Munaz.z.am. Al-Ghassāni (d. 682) did not include it in his compendium of al-Dāraqut.nī's weak narrations entitled Takhrīj al-Ahādīth al-D.iʿāf min Sunan al-Dāraqut.nī. Some late scholars, beginning with Ibn Taymiyya, remained undecided whether to grade this h.adīth weak or forged.
Imām al-Lacknawī said about this h.adīth:
There are some who declared it weak [e.g. al-Bayhaqī, Ibn Khuzayma, and al-Suyūt.ī], and others who asserted that all the h.adīths on visitation of the Prophet ﷺ are forged, such as Ibn Taymiyya and his followers, but both positions are false for those who were given right understanding, for verification of the case dictates that the h.adīth is h.asan, as Taqī al-Dīn al-Subkī has expounded in his book Shifā' al-Siqām."
• Ibn ʿAbd al-Hādī who wrote al-S.ārim al-Munkī in violent refutation of al-Subkī's book on visitation but contradicted his own position in another book of his: he makes much ado about the reliability of ʿAbd Allāh ibn ʿUmar al-ʿUmarī in al-S.ārim al-Munkī, but relies upon him in another book, al-Tanqīh.! Shaykh Mah.mūd Mamdūh. refuted his weakening of this h.adīth in great detail and stated that al-S.ārim al-Munkī is at the root of all subsequent generalizations in weakening the h.adīths that concern the desirability of visitation.
• The late Wahhābī "Desert Storm" Shaykh, ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz Bin Baz, who reiterated Ibn Taymiyya's imprudent verdict: "The h.adīths that concern the visitation of the grave of the Prophet ﷺ are all weak, indeed forged";
• and Nasir al-Jadyaʿ, who in 1993 obtained his Ph.D. with First Honors from the University of Muh.ammad ibn Saʿud after writing a 600-page book entitled al-Tabarruk in which he perpetuates the same aberrant claim.
There is no contest among the jurists of the Four Schools as to the probative force of the narration of Ibn ʿUmar, as it is adduced time and again by the jurists to support the strong desirability of visiting the Prophet ﷺ in Madīna. See, for example, among H.anbalī sources alone, the textbooks cited above. See also the additional sound texts illustrating the visit to the Prophet ﷺ , among them that of the Companion Bilāl ibn Rabāh. al-H.abashī ? all the way from Shām, as well as the Companions' practice of seeking the Prophet ﷺ as a means for their needs by visiting his grave, such as Bilāl ibn al-H.ārith al-Muzanī, Abū Ayyūb al-Ans.āri, ʿā'isha, and Fāt.ima ?, all as cited in the sections on Tawassul and Visitation in Shaykh Hishām Kabbānī's Encyclopedia of Islamic Doctrine. And Allāh knows best.
In the final five months of his last two-year period in jail Ibn Taymiyya was prevented from writing, at which time he turned to prayer and the intensive recitation of the Qur'ān and repented from having spent time writing doctrinal refutations instead of focussing on the commentary of the Qur'ān. At that time he confided to his faithful student Ibn al-Qayyim: "My Paradise and my Garden are in my breast - meaning his faith and knowledge - and wherever I go they never depart from me. My prison is seclusion, my execution is martyrdom, and my exile is an excursion."
Al-S.afadī said: "He wasted his time refuting the Christians and the Rāfid.a, or whoever objected to the Religion or contradicted it, but if he had devoted himself to explaining al-Bukhārī or the Noble Qur'ān, he would have placed the guarland of his well-ordered speech on the necks of the people of knowledge." Al-Nabahānī said in Shawāhid al-H.aqq: "He refuted the Christians, the Shīʿīs, the logicians, then the Ashʿarīs and Ahl al-Sunna, in short, sparing no one whether Muslim or non-Muslim, Sunni or otherwise."
His student al-Dhahabī praised him lavishly as "the brilliant shaykh, imām, erudite scholar, censor, jurist, mujtahid, and commentator of the Qur'ān," but acknowledged that Ibn Taymiyya's disparaging manners alienated even his admirers.
For example, the grammarian Abū H.ayyān praised Ibn Taymiyya until he found out that he believed himself a greater expert in the Arabic language than Sībawayh, whereupon he retracted his previous praise and dissociated himself from him.
Other former admirers turned critics were the Qād.ī al-Zamalkānī, Jalāl al-Dīn al-Qazwīnī, al-Qūnawī, al-Jarīrī, and al-Dhahabī himself, in whose Nas.īh.a he addresses Ibn Taymiyya with the words: "When will you stop criticizing the scholars and finding fault with the people?"
The Ulema saw the influence of Ibn H.azm in Ibn Taymiyya's poisoned quill. Al-S.afadī said: "He adorned himself with [Ibn H.azm's] al-Muh.allā, imitating whatever he wished from it - if he wished, he could cite it from memory - and adducing from it a number of attacks and disparagements."
Al-Dhahabī said: "I do not consider him sinless, and I even disagree with him on a number of questions in both the foundations and the branches, for, despite his vast knowledge, great courage, abundant wit, and staunch defense of what Allāh had prohibited, he was nevertheless a human being among other human beings, hot-tempered in his manner of debate, given to anger and outbursts against his opponents. This would sow enmity toward him in people's hearts. If he had several battlesn kindness towards his opponents he would have been the pivot of consensus."
Dr. Saʿīd al-Būt.ī pointed out that although Ibn Taymiyya blamed al-Ghazzālī and other Ashʿarī scholars for involving themselves in philosophical or dialectical disputations, yet he went much further than most into kalām and philosophy. This is several battlesn by his books in kalām and philosophy such as Muwāfaqāt al-Manqūl wa al-Maʿqūl, al-Ta'sīs Radd al-Asās, and most notably by his positions in al-Radd ʿalā al-Mant.iqiyyīn ("Against the Logicians") on the "generic beginninglessness" of created matters and Aristotelian causality (al-ʿilla al-arist.iyya).
Al-Dhahabī alluded to this in his epistle to Ibn Taymiyya: "When will you stop investigating the poisoned minutiae of philosophical disbelief, so that we have to refute them with our minds? You have swallowed the poisons of the philosophers and their treatises, not once, but several times!"
Al-Dhahabī's Bayān Zaghl al-ʿIlm wa al-T.alab is a brief epistle in which al-Dhahabī lists the different disciplines and sciences of Islām then proceeds to describe them briefly, includikng the Four Sunnī Schools. In his chapter on doctrine, he mentions his teacher: "Ibn Taymiyya was considered by his enemies to be a wicked Anti-Christ and disbeliever, while great numbers of the wise and the elite considered him an eminent, brilliant, and scholarly innovator (mubtadiʿ fād.il muh.aqqiq bāriʿ)."
Al-Nas.īh.a al-Dhahabiyya li Ibn Taymiyya is an epistle written when al-Dhahabī was around fifty-five years of age and addressed to Ibn Taymiyya towards the end of his life. In this brief but scathing epistle the author distances himself from his contemporary and admonishes him without naming him, calling him "an eloquent polemicist who neither rests nor sleeps."
A "Salafī" apologist recently cast doubt on the authenticity of al-Dhahabī's authorship of this epistle, also claiming that, even if al-Dhahabī wrote it, then it is directed to someone other than Ibn Taymiyya. However, Ibn H.ajar cites the Nas.īh.a in al-Durar al-Kāmina and does not doubt its authenticity as attributed to al-Dhahabī, nor his student al-Sakhāwī who calls it "a glorious statement of doctrine" in al-Iʿlān wa al-Tawbikh. And the two greatest experts on al-Dhahabī's works, S.alāh. al-Dīn al-Munajjid and Bashshār ʿAwwād Maʿrūf, declared there was no doubt al-Dhahabī wrote it towards the end of his life and addressed Ibn Taymiyya.
Shaykh al-Islām al-Subkī wrote in his introduction to the first epistle of his threefold refutation of Ibn Taymiyya:
He claimed that dependency on composite parts is not an impossibility; that created entities (al-h.awādith) subsist in the Essence of Allāh (swt); that the Qur'ān is originated, Allāh speaking it after its nonexistence; that He speaks, falls silent, and originates in His Essence the volitions (al-irādāt) according to created things, in the process arriving at the necessary pre-eternity of the world (istilzām qidam al-ʿālam) by stating that there is no beginning for created entities. So he claimed the existence of originated entities without beginning (h.awādith lā awwala lahā), affirming the pre-eternal attribute to be originated and the created and originated to be without beginning. And none ever held these two doctrines at one and the same time in any society nor in any religious community, so he is not part of any of the seventy-three sects into which the Umma split, nor can there be any ground for him to stand with any particular umma. And even if all this constitutes the foulest disbelief (kufran shanīʿan), yet it is little compared to what he innovated in the branches!
Another Shāfiʿī jurist, al-Haytamī, similarly wrote in his Fatāwā H.adīthiyya:
• that our Lord is subject to created events (mah.allun li al-h.awādith) - glorified, exalted, and sanctified is He far beyond what the depraved ascribe to Him!
• that He is complex or made of parts (murakkab), His Essence standing in need similarly to the way the whole stands in need of the parts, elevated is He and sanctified beyond that!
• that the Qur'ān is created in the Essence of Allāh (muh.dath fī dhātillāh), elevated is He beyond that!
• that the world is of a pre-eternal nature and exists with Allāh since pre-eternity as an "ever-abiding created object" (makhlūqan dā'īman), thus making it necessarily existent in His Essence (mūjaban bi al-dhāt) and [making Him] not acting deliberately (la fāʿilan bi al-ikhtyār), elevated is He beyond that!
• his suggestions of the corporeality, direction, and displacement [of Allāh (swt)] (al-jismiyya wa al-jiha wa al-intiqāl), and that He fits the size of the Throne, being neither bigger nor smaller, exalted is He from such a hideous invention and wide-open disbelief, and may He forsake all his followers, and may all his beliefs be scattered and lost!
• and that Prophets are not sinless (al-anbiyā' ghayr maʿs.ūmīn),
• and that the undertaking of travel (al-safar) to the Prophet ﷺ in order to perform his visitation is a sin, for which it is unlawful to shorten the prayers, and that it is forbidden to ask for his intercession in view of the Day of Need,
• and that the words (alfāz.) of the Torah and the Gospel were not substituted, but their meanings (maʿānī) were.
Some said: "Whoever looks at his books does not attribute to him most of these positions, except that whereby he holds the view that Allāh (swt) has a direction, and that he authored a book to establish this, and forces the proof upon the people who follow this school of thought that they are believers in Divine corporeality (jismiyya), dimensionality (muh.ādhāt), and settledness (istiqrār)." That is, it may be that at times he used to assert these proofs and that they were consequently attributed to him in particular.
But whoever attributed this to him from among the Imāms of Islām upon whose greatness, leadership, religion, trustworthiness, fairness, acceptance, insight, and meticulousness there is agreement - then they do not say anything except what has been duly established with added precautions and repeated inquiry. This is especially true when a Muslim is attributed a view which necessitates his disbelief, apostasy, misguidance, and execution. Therefore if it is true of him that he is a disbeliever and an innovator, then Allāh will deal with him with His justice, and other than that He will forgive us and him.
The "Salafī" Nuʿmān al-Alūsī responded to the above condemnations and took the side of Ibn Taymiyya in his Jalā' al-ʿAynayn bi Muh.ākamat al-Ah.madayn ("The Arbitration Between the Two Ah.madsī), which Shaykh Yūsuf al-Nabahānī refuted in turn in his Shawāhid al-H.aqq fil-Istighātha bi Sayyid al-Khalq ? ("The Witnesses to Truth Concerning the Obtainment of Aid through the Master of Creatures").
The Renewer of Islām in the previous century, Imām Muh.ammad Zāhid al-Kawtharī also stated in strong terms that Ibn Taymiyya's position on the Divine Attributes is tantamount to disbelief and apostasy because it reduces Allāh to a corporeal body. He states in his Maqālāt:
He also says: "It is well-known that the Book, the Sunna, and the Consensus nowhere say that all bodies (ajsām) are created, and nowhere say that Allāh Himself is not a body. None of the Imāms of the Muslims ever said such a thing. Therefore if I also choose not to say it, it does not expel me from religion nor from Sharīʿa." These words are complete impudence. What did he do with all the verses declaring Allāh (swt) to be far removed from anything like unto Him? Does he expect that the idiocy that every single idiot can come up with be addressed with a specific text? Is it not enough that Allāh (swt) said: ?There is nothing whatsoever like Him? (42:11)? Or does he consider it permissible for someone to say: Allāh (swt) eats this, chews that, and tastes this, just because no text mentions the opposite? This is disbelief laid bare and pure anthropomorphism.
In another passage of the same book he says: "You [Ashʿarīs] say that He is neither a body, nor an atom (jawhar), nor spatially bounded (mutah.ayyiz), and that He has no direction, and that He cannot be pointed to as an object of sensory perception, and that nothing of Him can be considered distinct from Him. You have asserted this on the grounds that Allāh is neither divisible nor made of parts and that He has neither limit (h.add) nor end (ghāya), with your view thereby to forbid one to say that He has any limit or measure (qadr), or that He even has a dimension that is unlimited. But how do you allow yourselves to do this without evidence from the Book and the Sunna?" The reader's intelligence suffices to comment on these heretical statements. Can you imagine for an apostate to be more brazen than this, right in the midst of Muslim society?
In another place of the same book he says: "It is obligatorily known that Allāh did not mean by the name of "the One" (al-Wāh.id) the negation of the Attributes." He is here alluding to all that entails His "coming" to a place and the like. He continues: "Nor did He mean by it the negation that He can be perceived with the senses, nor the denial of limit and dimension and all such interpretations which were innovated by the Jahmiyya and their followers. Negation or denial of the above is not found in the Book nor the Sunna." And this is on an equal footing with what came before with regard to pure anthropomorphism and plain apostasy.
In another book of his, Muwāfaqāt al-Maʿqūl, which is in the margin of his Minhāj, Ibn Taymiyya asserts that things occur newly in relation to Allāh and that He has a direction according to two kinds of conjecture. And you know, O reader, what the Imāms say concerning him who deliberately and intently establishes that Allāh has a direction, unless his saying such a thing is a slip of the tongue or a slip of the pen. Then there is his establishing that the concept of movement applies to Allāh, along with all the others who establish such a thing; his denial that there is an eternal sojourn in hellfire has filled creation; and his doctrine of the "generic pre-existence" of the world (al-qidam al-nawʿī).
Ibn Taymiyya's affirmed and denied the eternality of hellfire intermittently, in the same way as he intermittently affirmed and denied the corporeality of the Divine, the beginninglessness of the world, and other things. His denial of the eternality of hellfire and his suggestion of its eventual extinction was refuted, among others, by the Commander of the Believers in H.adīth Muh.ammad ibn Ismā'īl al-S.anʿānī in his Rafʿ al-Astār li-Ibt.āl Adillat al-Qā'ilīn bi Fanā' al-Nār ("Exposing the Nullity of the Proofs of those that Claim that Hell-Fire Shall Pass Away") and by Shaykh al-Islām Taqī al-Dīn al-Subkī in his epistle al-Iʿtibār bi Baqā' al-Jannati wa al-Nār published as part of his book al-Durra al-Mud.iyya fī al-Radd ʿalā Ibn Taymiyya, which also contains two epistles refuting the latter's positions on divorce. In al-Iʿtibār al-Subkī states:
This heretical doctrine was endorsed by Ibn Taymiyya's admirer Ibn Abī al-ʿIzz in his commentary on al-T.ah.āwī, in flat contradiction of the latter's statement, §83. "The Garden and the Fire are created and shall never be extinguished nor come to an end."
Also among Ibn Taymiyya's kalām innovations was his division of tawh.īd into two types: tawh.īd al-rubūbiyya and tawh.īd al-ulūhiyya, respectively, Oneness of Lordship and Oneness of Godhead. The first, he said, consisted in the acknowledgment of Allāh as the Creator of all, a belief shared by believers and non-believers alike. The second, he said, was the affirmation of Allāh as the one true deity and only object of worship, a belief exclusive to believers. His natural conclusion was that "whoever does not know tawh.īd al-ulūhiyya, his knowledge of tawh.īd al-rubūbiyya is not taken into account because the idolaters also had such knowledge." He then compared the scholars of kalām to the Arab idol-worshippers who accepted tawh.īd al-rubūbiyya but ignored tawh.īd al-ulūhiyya! This dialectic was imitated by Ibn Abī al-ʿIzz in his commentary on al-T.ah.āwī's ʿAqīda.
Abū H.āmid Ibn Marzūq [Imām al-ʿArabī al-Tubbānī] wrote:
Imām Ah.mad ibn H.anbal... never said that tawh.īd consisted in two parts, one being tawh.īd al-rubūbiyya and the other tawh.īd al-ulūhiyya. Nor did he ever say that "whoever does not know tawh.īd al-ulūhiyya, his knowledge of tawh.īd al-rubūbiyya is not taken into account because the idolaters also had such knowledge."... None of the followers of the Followers... none of the Successors... none of the Companions of the Prophet ﷺ ever said that tawh.īd consisted in two parts, one being tawh.īd al-rubūbiyya and the other tawh.īd al-ulūhiyya, nor did any of them ever say that "whoever does not know tawh.īd al-ulūhiyya, his knowledge of tawh.īd al-rubūbiyya is not taken into account because the idolaters also had such knowledge."... Nowhere in all the Sunna of the Prophet ﷺ ... is it related that the Prophet ﷺ ever said or ever taught his Companions that tawh.īd consists in two parts, one being tawh.īd al-rubūbiyya and the other tawh.īd al-ulūhiyya, nor that "whoever does not know tawh.īd al-ulūhiyya, his knowledge of tawh.īd al-rubūbiyya is not taken into account because the idolaters also had such knowledge." If mankind and jinn joined together to establish that the Prophet ﷺ ever said such a thing, even with an inauthentic chain of transmission, they would not succeed.
The books of the Sunna of the Prophet ﷺ overflow with the fact that the call of the Prophet ﷺ to the people unto Allāh was in order that they witness that there is no God except Allāh alone and that Muh.ammad is the Messenger of Allāh, and in order that they repudiate idol-worship. One of the most famous illustrations of this is the narration of Muʿādh ibn Jabal when the Prophet ﷺ sent him to Yemen and said to him: "Invite them to the testimony that there is no God but Allāh and Muh.ammad is the Messenger of Allāh...." And it is narrated in five of the six books of authentic traditions - and Ibn H.ibbān declared it sound - that a Bedouin Arab reported the sighting of the new moon to the Prophet ﷺ and the latter ordered the people to fast without asking this man other than to confirm his testimony of faith. According to this drivel of Ibn Taymiyya, it would have been necessary for the Prophet ﷺ to call all people to the tawh.īd al-ulūhiyya of which they were ignorant - since tawh.īd al-rubūbiyya they knew already - and he should have said to Muʿādh: "Invite them to tawh.īd al-ulūhiyyaī; and he should have asked the Bedouin who had sighted the new moon of Ramadan: "Do you know tawh.īd al-ulūhiyya?"
Finally, in His precious Book which falsehood cannot approach whether from the front or from the back, Allāh never ordered tawh.īd al-ulūhiyya to His servants, nor did He ever say that "whoever does not know this tawh.īd, his knowledge of tawh.īd al-rubūbiyya is not taken into account."
Ibn Marzūq is the pseudonym of Shaykh Muh.ammad ibn ʿAlawī's Shaykh, Muh.ammad al-ʿArabī ibn al-Tubbānī al-Maghribī al-Mālikī al-Makkī (d. 1390) who authored both Barā'at al-Ashʿariyyīn and al-Taʿqīb al-Mufīd ʿalā Hady al-Zuraʿī al-Shadīd in refutation of Ibn Taymiyya, Ibn al-Qayyim, and the Wahhābī movement's insinuations against the Ashʿarīs.
Ibn Taymiyya's method in debate was to provide a barrage of quotes and citations in support of his positions. In the process he often mentioned reports or stated positions which, upon closer examination, are dubious either from the viewpoint of transmission or from that of content. For example:
• His report of Ibn Bat.t.a's narration whereby H.ammād ibn Zayd was asked by a man: "Our Lord descends to the heaven of the earth - does that mean that he removes Himself from one place to another place? (yatah.awwalu min makān ilā makān?)" H.ammād replied: "He Himself is in His place, and He comes near His creation in the way that He likes (huwa fī makānihi yaqrabu min khalqihi kayfa shā')." Even if the question and its answer can be authentically established to have taken place - since Ibn Bat.t.a's reliability was questioned -, the doctrine of attributing place to Allāh (swt) is unheard of among the Salaf.
• His report from Ish.āq ibn Rāhūyah's words to the Emir ʿAbd Allāh ibn T.āhir: "He is able to descend without the Throne being vacant of Him" (yaqdiru an yanzila min ghayri an yakhlua al-ʿarshu minh). Such a statement leaves nothing of the characteristics of creatures except it attributed it to the Creator: body, place, surface, and displacement!
• Al-Bayhaqī in al-Asmā' wa al-S.ifāt narrates the reports of Ish.āq's encounter with the Emir ʿAbd Allāh ibn T.āhir with five chains (three of them sound according to al-H.āshidī), none of them mentioning the words "without the Throne being vacant of Him." This apparent interpolation is nevertheless the foundation of Ibn Taymiyya's position in Sharh. H.adīth al-Nuzūl (p. 42-59) that Allāh Most High descends "in person" yet remains above the Throne "in person"! That position has been characterized by Imām Abū Zahra (see further below) as a dual assertion of the aboveness and belowness of Allāh Most High on the part of Ibn Taymiyya, although strenuously denied by Ibn Taymiyya himself in Minhāj al-Sunna and by al-Albānī who defends the latter against Abū Zahra's conclusion in his introduction to Mukhtas.ar al-ʿUluw!
• His report from Abū ʿUmar al-T.alamankī's book al-Wus.ūl ilā Maʿrifat al-Us.ūl: "Ahl al-Sunna wa al-Jamāʿa are in agreement (muttafiqūn) that Allāh established Himself in person (bi dhātihi) on the Throne." Note that Ibn Taymiyya quotes inaccurately, as al-Dhahabī quotes from the same book the following passage: "The Muslims of Ahl al-Sunna wa al-Jamāʿa have reached consensus (ajmaʿ[ū]) that Allāh is above the heavens in person (bi dhātihi) and is established over His Throne in the mode that He pleases (kayfa shā')." Of course, both assertions are false since no such consensus exists; and the position of Ahl al-Sunna is that whoever attributes direction to Allāh commits apostasy.
• His statement: "The scholars approved by Allāh and His accepted Friends have narrated that Muh.ammad the Messenger of Allāh (swt) will be seated by His Lord on the Throne next to Him." By "the scholars approved by Allāh and His accepted Friendsī here he means a minority of H.anbalī scholars with anthropomorphist convictions.
• His claim regarding the narration of ʿAbd Allāh ibn Khalīfa from ʿUmar whereby "the Prophet ﷺ glorified Allāh and said: ʿVerily, His Seat of Authority (kursī) encompasses the heavens and the earth, and verily He sits on it (innahu yajlisu ʿalayh) and there does not remain of it [but] a space of four fingers, and verily it groans like the sound of the new saddle when one mounts it, due to His weight pressing down on it'" that "most of Ahl al-Sunna accept [this narration]" when their near-totality - including his own students al-Dhahabī and Ibn Kathīr - grade it "denounced" (munkar), and he himself acknowledge Abū Bakr al-Ismāʿīlī's rejection of it among others.
• His statement that "I do not know any of the Salaf of the Community nor any of the Imāms, neither Ah.mad ibn H.anbal nor other than him, that considered these [verses on the Divine Names and Attributes] as part of the mutashābih" when everyone has heard the statement of Imām Mālik on istiwā' whereby "its modality is inconceivable" (al-kayfu ghayr maʿqūl)! Al-Baghdādī in Us.ūl al-Dīn cites, among those who consider the verse of istiwā' one of the mutashābihāt, Mālik ibn Anas, the seven jurists of Madīna, and al-As.mā'ī while Imām al-Ghazzālī counted the verses and narrations on the Divine Attributes among the mutashābihāt in al-Mustas.fā and Imām al-Nawawī concurred with him.
• His statements: "The elevation of Allāh (swt) over the Throne is literal, and the elevation of the creature over the ship is literal" (lillāhi taʿāla istiwā'un ʿalā ʿarshihi h.aqīqatan wa li al-ʿabdi istiwā'un ʿalā al-fulki h.aqīqatan). "Allāh is with us literally, and He is above His Throne literally (Allāhu maʿana h.aqīqatan wa huwa fawqa al-ʿarshi h.aqīqatan). ... Allāh is with His creation literally and He is above His Throne literally (Allāhu maʿa khalqihi h.aqīqatan wa huwa fawqa al-ʿarshi h.aqīqatan)."
The above statements all undoubtedly corroborate Ibn H.ajar's and Ibn Bat.t.ūt.a's reports whereby he once climbed down the minbar in purported illustration of the descent of Allāh (swt) to the nearest heaven, saying: "Just like the descent I just made"!
Ibn Taymiyya's burial was attended by about 50,000 people. His teachings were by and large forgotten until Muh.ammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb al-Najdī brought them back from oblivion. Later, the "Salafī" movement revived them through a large-scale publication campaign backed up by political and financial activism from the 1930s to our day.
Imām Muh.ammad Abū Zahra said in his book on the history of the madhāhib in Islām:
The Wahhābīs appeared in the Arabian desert [...] and revived the School of Ibn Taymiyya. The founder of the Wahhābiyya is Muh.ammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb who died in 1786. He had studied the books of Ibn Taymiyya which became inestimable in his sight, deepening his involvement in them until he brought them out from the realm of opinion into the realm of practice. In reality, the Wahhābīs did not add anything to what Ibn Taymiyya had brought but they exaggerated it more than he had, instituting practical matters which Ibn Taymiyya had not addressed because they were not widespread in his time. These can be summarized thus:
1. They did not restrain themselves to view worship (ʿibāda) in the same way that Islām had stipulated in the Qur'ān and Sunna and as Ibn Taymiyya had mentioned, but they wished to include customs (ʿādāt) also into the province of Islām so that Muslims would be bound by them. Thus they declared cigarette smoking haram and exaggerated this ruling to the point that their general public considered the smoker a mushrik. As a result they resembled the Khawārij who used to declare apostate whoever committed a sin.
2. In the beginning of their matter they would also declare coffee and whatever resembled it as haram to themselves but it seems that they became more indulgent on this point as time went by.
3. The Wahhābis did not restrain themselves to proselytism only, but resorted to warmongering against whoever disagreed with them on the grounds that they were fighting innovations, and innovations are an evil that must be fought, and it is obligatory to command good and forbid evil. [...] The leader of Wahhābī thought in the field of war and battle was Muh.ammad ibn Saʿūd, the ancestor of the ruling Saʿūdī family in the Arabian lands. He was a brother-in-law to Shaykh Muh.ammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb and embraced his madhhab, defending it fervently and calling unto it by force of arms. He announced that he was doing this so as to uphold the Sunna and eradicate bidʿa. Perhaps, this religious mission that took a violent turn was carrying with itself a rebellion against Ottoman rule. [...] Until the governor of Egypt, Muhammad ʿAlī, faced them and pounced on the Wahhābīs with his strong army, routing them in the course of several battles. At that time their military force was reduced and confined to the Arabi tribes. Ryadh and its vicinity was the center for this permanent daʿwa that would turn violent whenver they found the strength and then lie still whenever they found violent opposition.
4. Whenever they were able to seize a town or city they would come to the tombs and turn them into ruins and destruction [...] several battles would destroy whatever mosques were with the tombs also. [...]
5. Their brutality did not stop there but they also came to whatever graves were visible and destroyed them also. And when the ruler of the H.ijāz regions caved in to them they destroyed all the graves of the Companions and razed them to the ground. [...]
6. They would cling to small matters which they condemned although they had nothing to do with idolatry nor with whatever leads to idolatry, such as photography. We found this in their fatwas and epistles at the hands of their Ulema, although their rulers ignore this saying of theirs completely and cast it by the wayside.
7. They expanded the meaning of bidʿa to strange proportions, to the point that they actually claimed that draping the walls of the noble Rawd.a is an innovated matter. Hence they forbade the renewal of the drapes that were in it, until they fell in tatters and became unsightly, were it not for the light that pours out to all that are in the presence of the Prophet ﷺ or feels that in this place was the abode of Revelation on the Master of Messengers. In fact, we find among them, on top of this, those who consider that the Muslim's expression "our Master Muh.ammadī (sayyiduna Muh.ammad) is an impermissible bidʿa and they show true extremism about this and, for the sake of their mission, use foul and furious language until most people actually flee from them as fast as they can.
8. To tell the truth, the Wahhābīs have actualized the opinions of Ibn Taymiyya and are extremely zealous followers and supporters of those views. They adopted the positions of Ibn Taymiyya that we explained in our previous discussion of those who call themselves "Salafiyya". However, they expanded the meaning of bidʿa and construed as innovations things that have no relation to worship. [...] In fact, it has been noticed that the Ulema of the Wahhābīs consider their own opinions correct and not possibly wrong, while they consider the opinions of others wrong and not possibly correct. More than that, they consider what others than themselves do in the way of erecting tombs and circumambulating them, as near to idolatry. In this respect they are near the Khawārij who used to declare those who dissented with them apostate and fight them as we already mentioned. This was a relatively harmless matter in the days when they were cloistered in the desert and not trespassing its boundaries; but when they mixed with others until the H.ijāz country was in the hand of the Saʿūd family, the matter became of the utmost gravity. This is why the late King ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz of the Saʿūd family opposed them, and treated their opinions as confined to themselves and irrelevant to others."
The Mauritanian Shaykh Muh.ammad Miska al-Yaʿqūbī's Fatāwā Ibn Taymiyya fīl-Mīzān mostly cites and sources Ibn Taymiyya verbatim in the following chapters:
1. Sayings of the Scholars on IT
2. The H.ashwiyya, IT's group
3. The doctrine of Ahl al-Sunna wal-Jamāʿa
Al-Ghazzālī's Qawāʿid al-Ah.kām Ibn ʿAbd al-Salām's Mulh.a
Chapter One: Salient Characteristics of IT's Fatāwā
1. The Prevalence of Tashbīh and Tajsīm in the Fatāwā of IT
2. IT's aggressiveness against his opponents and his manipulating their words
3. His style of verbose argumentation
4. Concerning his scholarly trustworthiness
5. Concerning his program
Chapter Two: Refutation of IT's position on the direction [of the Deity]
1. Refutation of direction in the Qur'ān and Sunna
2. Refutation of direction by rational proofs
Second corollary: IT's virulent denial of kalām terminology
3. Refuting the sayings of those who affirm direction
4. Status of those who affirm direction according to Ahl al-Sunna
Chapter Three: Refutation of IT's creed of contingencies subsisting in Allāh (swt) and his belief in the pre-existence of the world
1. Establishing his creed in this from his own words
2. Refutation of his creed in the pre-existence of the world
3. The Divine transcendence beyond the subsistence of contingencies in him
Chapter Four: Refutation of IT's statement that the Qur'ān is created and that Allāh speaks with a voice
1. Establishing his creed in this from his own words
2. Refutation of his creed that the Qur'ān is created and his attribution of voice and silence to Allāh Most High
Chapter Five: His creed in the non-ʿis.ma of the Prophets, upon them blessings and peace
Chapter Six: His statement that travel to visit the grave of the Prophet ﷺ is a sin and that tawassul through him is shirk or leads to shirk.
Chapter Seven: His statement that Hellfire comes to an end and his opinion on resurrection
Chapter Eight: His proclivity for insulting the pious servants of Allāh
Chapter Nine: His probing the positions of the philosophers and their influence on him and that of other non-believers
Chapter Ten: Some of the issues in which he violated the Consensus.
Main Sources: al-Dhahabī, Tadhkirat al-H.uffāz. 4:1496 #1177; Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāya wa al-Nihāya 14:5, 14:42-48; Ibn H.ajar, al-Durar al-Kāmina 1:144-160 #409; al-Haytamī, Fatāwā H.adīthiyya; al-Kawtharī, Maqālāt.
The Refutation of he who attributes direction to Allah, by Sh. G F Haddad
publ. at: Aqsa Publications, x L 20120703
"In any case, what Westerners call civilization, the others would call barbarity, because it is precisely lacking in the essential, that is to say, a principle of a higher order."
René Guénon, East And West, 1924
صلّى الله على سيّدنا محمّد و على آله و صحبه و سلّم
The blessings and peace of Allah on the Prophet, his Family, and his Companions, ( sallAllahu `aleihi wa sallam ) .
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