Ah.mad ibn `Abd al-H.alîm ibn `Abd Allâh ibn Abî al-Qâsim ibn Taymiyya, Taqî al-Dîn Abû al-`Abbâs ibn Shihâb al-Dîn ibn Majd al-Dîn al-H.arrânî al-Dimashqî al-H.anbalî (661-728) was one of the most influential scholars of the late H.anbalî school, praised by the h.adîth Master S.alâh. al-Dîn al-`Alâ'î as "Our shaykh, master, and Imâm between us and Allâh 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 Imâm and faithful servant of his Lord, the doctor in the Religion, the Ocean, the light-giving Pole of spirituality, the leader of Imâms, 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-Islâm..."
A student of Ibn `Abd al-Dâ'im, al-Qâsim al-Irbilî, Ibn `Allân, Ibn Abî `Amr al-Fakhr, Ibn Taymiyya mostly read by himself until he achieved great learning. Shaykh al-Islâm, al-H.âfiz. al-Taqî al-Subkî 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.adîth masters Ibn al-Qayyim, al-Dhahabî, Ibn Kathîr, and Muh.ammad ibn Ah.mad ibn `Abd al-Hâdî al-Maqdisî (705-744) as well as the H.anbalî jurist and h.adîth narrator Sirâj al-Dîn Abû H.afs. `Umar ibn `Alî ibn Mûsâ al-Azjî al-Bazzâr (688-749) who should not be confused with the h.âfiz. Abû Bakr al-Bazzâr (215-292)!
Ibn Taymiyya's views and manners created intense controversy both in his life and after his death. Al-Sakhâwî in al-Tawbîkh (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 Shâfi`î h.adîth Master al-Mizzî did not call anyone else Shaykh al-Islâm in his time besides Ibn Taymiyya, Ibn Abî `Umar al-H.anbalî, and Imâm Taqî al-Dîn al-Subkî, yet the H.anafî scholar `Alâ' al-Dîn al-Bukhârî issued a fatwâ that if anyone called Ibn Taymiyya Shaykh al-Islâm they would commit disbelief and authored against the latter a book entitled al-Muljima li al-Mujassima ("Curbing the Anthropomorphists").
Ibn Nâs.ir al-Dîn al-Dimashqî countered this fatwa by authoring al-Radd al-Wâfir, in which he listed all the authorities who had ever written in praise of Ibn Taymiyya or called him Shaykh al-Islâm. Shaykh `Abd al-Fattâh. Abû Ghudda includes Ibn Taymiyya among the scholars who never married and extravagantly names him "Shaykh al-Islâm and the Standard-Bearer of all standard-bearers" in his book al-`Ulamâ' al-`Uzzâb, which he wrote after he took up residence in Najd.
In Bayân Zaghl al-`Ilm al-Dhahabî states:
In the `Ibar al-Dhahabî, after praising his teacher, states: "He also had some strange opinions on account of which he was attacked." Ibn `Abd al-Hâdî in al-`Uqûd 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-Yatîmiyya fî al-Sîrati al-Taymiyya, al-Dhahabî reports that Ibn Daqîq al-`îd 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 Daqîq al-`îd answered: "Because he loves to speak (yuh.ibbu al-kalâm) and I love silence."
Imâm S.alâh. al-Dîn al-S.afadî said: "The Shaykh, Imâm, and erudite scholar Taqî al-Dîn Ah.mad ibn Taymiyya - Allâh have mercy on him! - was immensely learned but he had a defective intelligence (`aqluhu nâqis.) 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 Fatwâ H.amawiyya in which he unambiguously attributes literal upward direction to Allâh (swt). He was refuted by his contemporary, Imâm Ibn Jahbal al-Kilâbî (d. 733), in a lengthy reply which Tâj al-Dîn al-Subkî reproduced in full in his T.abaqât al-Shâfi`iyya al-Kubrâ. Ibn Jahbal wrote: "How can you say that Allâh is literally (h.aqîqatan) in (fî) the heaven, and literally above (fawq) the heaven, and literally in (fî) the Throne, and literally on (`alâ) the Throne?!"
Qâd.î Yûsuf al-Nabahânî also refuted the H.amawiyya in his magnificent epistle Raf` al-Ishtibâh fî Istih.âlat al-Jiha `alâ Allâh ("The Removal of Uncertainty Concerning the Impossibility of Direction for Allah (swt)") cited in full in his Shawâhid 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 `Aqîda Wâsit.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-`Asqalânî. 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 Imâm Taqî al-Dîn al-H.is.nî's Daf`u Shubahi Man Shabbaha wa Tamarrad wa Nasâba Dhâlika ilâ al-Sayyid al-Jalîl al-Imâm Ah.mad ("Repelling the Sophistries of the Rebel who Likens Allâh to Creation, Then Attributes This Doctrine to Imâm Ah.mad").
Ibn Taymiyya at various times declared himself a follower of the Shâfi`î school - as did many H.anbalîs in Damascus - and an Ash`arî. Ibn H.ajar wrote in al-Durar al-Kâmina:
Another reason why Ibn Taymiyya was opposed was his criticism of S.ûfîs, particularly Shaykh Muh.yî al-Dîn Ibn `Arabî, although he described himself, in his letter to Abû al-Fath. Nas.r al-Munayjî, as a former admirer of the Shaykh al-Akbar:
According to the S.ûfî Ibn `Abd al-Hâdî in his Bad' al `Ilqa bi Labs al Khirqa, Ibn Taymiyya also declared himself a follower of several S.ûfî orders, among them the Qâdirî path of Shaykh `Abd al-Qâdir al-Gîlânî on whose book Futûh. 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-Tabrîziyya Ibn Taymiyya declares: "Labistu al khirqa al-mubâraka li al Shaykh `Abd al-Qâdir wa baynî wa baynahu ithnân - I wore the blessed S.ûfî cloak of `Abd al-Qâdir, 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 (kaffâra), all in violation of the Consensus of the Four Imâms and others of the Salaf.
Shaykh al-Islâm al-Taqî al-Subkî 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 Islâm. ... It has been affirmed by many of the scholars that he who opposes the Consensus (al-ijmâ`) of the Community is a disbeliever (kâfir)."
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.arâm), a sin (ma`s.iya), and an innovation (bid`a).
Al-Mardâwî, Ibn Hubayra, and others stated that the entirety of the early and late authorities in the H.anbalî Madhhab stipulate the desirability (istih.bâb) of visiting the grave of the Prophet ﷺ in Madîna, most especially after H.ajj, and/or travelling to do so. Ibn Muflih., al-Mardâwî, and Mar`î ibn Yûsuf in Ghâyat al-Muntahâ stated the Sunnî character of visiting the graves of the Muslims and the permissibility (ibâh.a) of travelling to do so. Mar`î reiterates this ruling in his unpublished monograph on the ethics of graves and visitation, Shifâ' al-S.udûr fî Ziyârat al-Mashâhid wal-Qubûr.
This most notorious of all fatwas was refuted by his contemporary the h.adîth Master and Shaykh al-Islâm Taqî al-Dîn al-Subkî in his landmark book Shifâ' al-Siqâm fî Ziyârati Khayri al-Anam ("The Healing of Sickness Concerning the Visitation to the Best of Creatures") , also titled Shann al-Ghâra `alâ man Ankara al-Safar li al-Ziyâra ("The Raid Against Him Who Denied the Lawfulness of Travel for the Purpose of Visitation"). Shaykh al-Islâm adduced the h.adîth "Whoever visits my grave, my intercession will be guaranteed for him" as proof against Ibn Taymiyya's claim that "all the h.adîths that concern the merit of visitation are weak or rather forged" and denounced Ibn Taymiyya's unprecedented fatwâ as a flagrant innovation.
Imâm Abû al-Fad.l Zayn al-Dîn `Abd al-Rahim ibn al-H.usayn al-`Irâqî al-Mis.rî (725-806), Shaykh al-Islâm, the Imâm, Qâd.î of Cairo, h.adîth Master of his time, and principal teacher to the h.adîth Master Ibn H.ajar al-`Asqalânî, said in al-Ajwiba al-Makkiyya, a refutation of Ibn Taymiyya's fatwâ claiming the prohibition of travel to visit the Prophet ﷺ : "There is no tah.rîm (prohibition) of an act of travel in the h.adîth ["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-`Irâqî 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 `Âshûrâ' with the words: "I find it strange that such words should come from this Imâm, 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-`Irâqî 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 Imâms of the Successors and the succeeding generations.
Imâm Ibn H.ajar al-`Asqalânî in Fath. al-Bârî 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 "Salafî" scholar Bin Baz comments: "This was not an ugly thing but a correct thing for Ibn Taymiyya to say"!
Al-Qârî said in his commentary on `Iyâd.'s al-Shifâ':
Another H.anafî Imâm who wrote a major commentary on `Iyâd.'s Shifâ', al-Khafâjî, 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 - Allâh forgive him!"
Also rejecting Ibn Taymiyya's fatwa as invalid are Shaykh al-Islâm Ah.mad Zaynî Dah.lân in his books, Abû `Abd Allâh ibn al-Nu`mân al-Maghribî al-Tilimsânî al-Mâlikî in his Mis.bâh. al-Anâm fî al-Mustaghîthîn bi Khayr al-Anâm, Nûr al-Dîn `Alî al-H.alabî al-Shâfi`î - the author of the S.îra H.alabiyya - in his Bughyat al-Ah.lâm, both of them included in al-Nabahânî's H.ujjat Allâh `alâ al-`âlamîn among many other works on the topic of seeking means and asking the Prophet ﷺ (al-tawassul wa al-istighâtha), al-Nabahânî with his Shawâhid al-H.aqq, Shaykh Muh.ammad ibn `Alawî al-Mâlikî in Shifâ' al-Fu'âd fî Ziyârati Khayr al-`Ibâd, al-Lacknawî's Ibrâz al-Ghay fî Shifâ' al-`Ay ("The Exposure of Deviation for the Healing of the Sick"), Shaykh `Îsâ al-H.ymiarî of Dubai, al-Sayyid Yûsuf al-Rifâ`î of Kuwait, and others.
A S.ûfî but anti-Ash`arî student of Ibn Taymiyya and al-Dhahabî, Ibn `Abd al-Hâdî, violently attacked Shaykh al-Islâm al-Subkî in a refutation titled al-S.ârim al-Munkî fî Nah.r al-Subkî ("The Hurtful Blade in the Throat of al-Subkî") in which he "adopted the manner of fanatics and departed from the norms of the scholars of h.adîth" according to Shaykh `Abd al-`Azîz ibn al-S.iddîq al-Ghumârî. Ibn `Abd al-Hâdî filled his book with unfounded accusations "in order to defend the innovations of his teacher.... It would have better been titled al-Shâtim al-Ifkî ('The Mendacious Abuser')." Ibn `Abd al-Hâdî falsely accuses al-Subkî 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 Allâh (swt)!
Nu`mân al-Alûsî also wrote an attack on both al-Haytamî and al-Subkî in his Jalâ' al-`Aynayn which he dedicated to the Indian Wahhâbî S.ûfî, S.iddîq H.asan Khân, and in which, according to al-Nabahânî, he went even further than Ibn `Abd al-Hâdî. Among the counter-refutations of these two works: al-Samannûdî's Nus.rat al-Imâm al-Subkî, a monograph by al-Akhnâ'î, and al-Nabahânî's Shawâhid al-H.aqq. The latter cites the poems of two other critics of al-Subkî - the H.anbalî Abû al-Muzaffar Yûsuf ibn Muh.ammad ibn Mas`ûd al-`Ubadî al-`Uqaylî al-Saramrî and Muh.ammad ibn Yûsuf al-Yumni al-Yâfi`î, "who claimed to follow the Shâfi`î school" - then proceeds to refute them together with Ibn `Abd al-Hâdî's book.
The h.adîth "Whoever visits my grave, my intercession will be guaranteed for him" (Man zâra qabrî wajabat lahu shafâ`atî) is a fair (h.asan) narration as concluded by Imâm Abû al-H.asanât al-Lacknawî and his editor `Abd al-Fattâh. Abû Ghudda in the latter's notes on Mâlik'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.mûd Mamdûh., although some early scholars had declared it sound (s.ah.îh.) such as Ibn al-Sakan in al-Sunan al-S.ih.âh. and `Abd al-H.aqq al-Ishbîlî in al-Ah.kâm, followed by Shaykh al-Islâm al-Taqî al-Subkî in Shifâ' al-Siqâm in view of the totality of the chains. Other h.adîth scholars who considered it authentic are Ibn H.ajar's student the h.adîth Master al-Sakhâwî, the h.adîth Master of Madîna Imâm al-Samhudi and Shaykh al-Islâm al-Haytamî in al-Jawhar al-Munaz.z.am. Al-Ghassâni (d. 682) did not include it in his compendium of al-Dâraqut.nî's weak narrations entitled Takhrîj al-Ahâdîth al-D.i`âf min Sunan al-Dâraqut.nî. Some late scholars, beginning with Ibn Taymiyya, remained undecided whether to grade this h.adîth weak or forged.
Imâm al-Lacknawî said about this h.adîth:
There are some who declared it weak [e.g. al-Bayhaqî, Ibn Khuzayma, and al-Suyût.î], and others who asserted that all the h.adîths 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.adîth is h.asan, as Taqî al-Dîn al-Subkî has expounded in his book Shifâ' al-Siqâm."
Ibn `Abd al-Hâdî who wrote al-S.ârim al-Munkî in violent refutation of al-Subkî's book on visitation but contradicted his own position in another book of his: he makes much ado about the reliability of `Abd Allâh ibn `Umar al-`Umarî in al-S.ârim al-Munkî, but relies upon him in another book, al-Tanqîh.! Shaykh Mah.mûd Mamdûh. refuted his weakening of this h.adîth in great detail and stated that al-S.ârim al-Munkî is at the root of all subsequent generalizations in weakening the h.adîths that concern the desirability of visitation.
The late Wahhâbî "Desert Storm" Shaykh, `Abd al-`Azîz Bin Baz, who reiterated Ibn Taymiyya's imprudent verdict: "The h.adîths that concern the visitation of the grave of the Prophet ﷺ are all weak, indeed forged";
and Nasir al-Jadya`, who in 1993 obtained his Ph.D. with First Honors from the University of Muh.ammad ibn Sa`ud 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 `Umar, as it is adduced time and again by the jurists to support the strong desirability of visiting the Prophet ﷺ in Madîna. See, for example, among H.anbalî 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 Bilâl ibn Rabâh. al-H.abashî ? all the way from Shâm, as well as the Companions' practice of seeking the Prophet ﷺ as a means for their needs by visiting his grave, such as Bilâl ibn al-H.ârith al-Muzanî, Abû Ayyûb al-Ans.âri, `â'isha, and Fât.ima ?, all as cited in the sections on Tawassul and Visitation in Shaykh Hishâm Kabbânî's Encyclopedia of Islamic Doctrine. And Allâh 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'ân and repented from having spent time writing doctrinal refutations instead of focussing on the commentary of the Qur'ân. 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.afadî said: "He wasted his time refuting the Christians and the Râfid.a, or whoever objected to the Religion or contradicted it, but if he had devoted himself to explaining al-Bukhârî or the Noble Qur'ân, he would have placed the guarland of his well-ordered speech on the necks of the people of knowledge." Al-Nabahânî said in Shawâhid al-H.aqq: "He refuted the Christians, the Shî`îs, the logicians, then the Ash`arîs and Ahl al-Sunna, in short, sparing no one whether Muslim or non-Muslim, Sunni or otherwise."
His student al-Dhahabî praised him lavishly as "the brilliant shaykh, imâm, erudite scholar, censor, jurist, mujtahid, and commentator of the Qur'ân," but acknowledged that Ibn Taymiyya's disparaging manners alienated even his admirers.
For example, the grammarian Abû H.ayyân praised Ibn Taymiyya until he found out that he believed himself a greater expert in the Arabic language than Sîbawayh, whereupon he retracted his previous praise and dissociated himself from him.
Other former admirers turned critics were the Qâd.î al-Zamalkânî, Jalâl al-Dîn al-Qazwînî, al-Qûnawî, al-Jarîrî, and al-Dhahabî himself, in whose Nas.îh.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.afadî said: "He adorned himself with [Ibn H.azm's] al-Muh.allâ, 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-Dhahabî 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 Allâh 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. Sa`îd al-Bût.î pointed out that although Ibn Taymiyya blamed al-Ghazzâlî and other Ash`arî scholars for involving themselves in philosophical or dialectical disputations, yet he went much further than most into kalâm and philosophy. This is several battlesn by his books in kalâm and philosophy such as Muwâfaqât al-Manqûl wa al-Ma`qûl, al-Ta'sîs Radd al-Asâs, and most notably by his positions in al-Radd `alâ al-Mant.iqiyyîn ("Against the Logicians") on the "generic beginninglessness" of created matters and Aristotelian causality (al-`illa al-arist.iyya).
Al-Dhahabî 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-Dhahabî's Bayân Zaghl al-`Ilm wa al-T.alab is a brief epistle in which al-Dhahabî lists the different disciplines and sciences of Islâm then proceeds to describe them briefly, includikng the Four Sunnî 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 (mubtadi` fâd.il muh.aqqiq bâri`)."
Al-Nas.îh.a al-Dhahabiyya li Ibn Taymiyya is an epistle written when al-Dhahabî 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 "Salafî" apologist recently cast doubt on the authenticity of al-Dhahabî's authorship of this epistle, also claiming that, even if al-Dhahabî wrote it, then it is directed to someone other than Ibn Taymiyya. However, Ibn H.ajar cites the Nas.îh.a in al-Durar al-Kâmina and does not doubt its authenticity as attributed to al-Dhahabî, nor his student al-Sakhâwî who calls it "a glorious statement of doctrine" in al-I`lân wa al-Tawbikh. And the two greatest experts on al-Dhahabî's works, S.alâh. al-Dîn al-Munajjid and Bashshâr `Awwâd Ma`rûf, declared there was no doubt al-Dhahabî wrote it towards the end of his life and addressed Ibn Taymiyya.
Shaykh al-Islâm al-Subkî 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.awâdith) subsist in the Essence of Allâh (swt); that the Qur'ân is originated, Allâh speaking it after its nonexistence; that He speaks, falls silent, and originates in His Essence the volitions (al-irâdât) according to created things, in the process arriving at the necessary pre-eternity of the world (istilzâm qidam al-`âlam) by stating that there is no beginning for created entities. So he claimed the existence of originated entities without beginning (h.awâdith lâ awwala lahâ), 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 shanî`an), yet it is little compared to what he innovated in the branches!
Another Shâfi`î jurist, al-Haytamî, similarly wrote in his Fatâwâ H.adîthiyya:
that our Lord is subject to created events (mah.allun li al-h.awâdith) - 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'ân is created in the Essence of Allâh (muh.dath fî dhâtillâh), elevated is He beyond that!
that the world is of a pre-eternal nature and exists with Allâh since pre-eternity as an "ever-abiding created object" (makhlûqan dâ'îman), thus making it necessarily existent in His Essence (mûjaban bi al-dhât) and [making Him] not acting deliberately (la fâ`ilan bi al-ikhtyâr), elevated is He beyond that!
his suggestions of the corporeality, direction, and displacement [of Allâh (swt)] (al-jismiyya wa al-jiha wa al-intiqâl), 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-anbiyâ' ghayr ma`s.ûmîn),
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 (alfâz.) of the Torah and the Gospel were not substituted, but their meanings (ma`ânî) 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 Allâh (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.âdhât), and settledness (istiqrâr)." 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 Imâms of Islâm 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 Allâh will deal with him with His justice, and other than that He will forgive us and him.
The "Salafî" Nu`mân al-Alûsî responded to the above condemnations and took the side of Ibn Taymiyya in his Jalâ' al-`Aynayn bi Muh.âkamat al-Ah.madayn ("The Arbitration Between the Two Ah.madsî), which Shaykh Yûsuf al-Nabahânî refuted in turn in his Shawâhid al-H.aqq fil-Istighâtha bi Sayyid al-Khalq ? ("The Witnesses to Truth Concerning the Obtainment of Aid through the Master of Creatures").
The Renewer of Islâm in the previous century, Imâm Muh.ammad Zâhid al-Kawtharî also stated in strong terms that Ibn Taymiyya's position on the Divine Attributes is tantamount to disbelief and apostasy because it reduces Allâh to a corporeal body. He states in his Maqâlât:
He also says: "It is well-known that the Book, the Sunna, and the Consensus nowhere say that all bodies (ajsâm) are created, and nowhere say that Allâh Himself is not a body. None of the Imâms 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 Sharî`a." These words are complete impudence. What did he do with all the verses declaring Allâh (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 Allâh (swt) said: ?There is nothing whatsoever like Him? (42:11)? Or does he consider it permissible for someone to say: Allâh (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 [Ash`arîs] 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 Allâh is neither divisible nor made of parts and that He has neither limit (h.add) nor end (ghâya), 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 Allâh did not mean by the name of "the One" (al-Wâh.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, Muwâfaqât al-Ma`qûl, which is in the margin of his Minhâj, Ibn Taymiyya asserts that things occur newly in relation to Allâh and that He has a direction according to two kinds of conjecture. And you know, O reader, what the Imâms say concerning him who deliberately and intently establishes that Allâh 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 Allâh, 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-naw`î).
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.adîth Muh.ammad ibn Ismâ'îl al-S.an`ânî in his Raf` al-Astâr li-Ibt.âl Adillat al-Qâ'ilîn bi Fanâ' al-Nâr ("Exposing the Nullity of the Proofs of those that Claim that Hell-Fire Shall Pass Away") and by Shaykh al-Islâm Taqî al-Dîn al-Subkî in his epistle al-I`tibâr bi Baqâ' al-Jannati wa al-Nâr published as part of his book al-Durra al-Mud.iyya fî al-Radd `alâ Ibn Taymiyya, which also contains two epistles refuting the latter's positions on divorce. In al-I`tibâr al-Subkî states:
This heretical doctrine was endorsed by Ibn Taymiyya's admirer Ibn Abî al-`Izz in his commentary on al-T.ah.âwî, 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 kalâm innovations was his division of tawh.îd into two types: tawh.îd al-rubûbiyya and tawh.îd al-ulûhiyya, respectively, Oneness of Lordship and Oneness of Godhead. The first, he said, consisted in the acknowledgment of Allâh as the Creator of all, a belief shared by believers and non-believers alike. The second, he said, was the affirmation of Allâh 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.îd al-ulûhiyya, his knowledge of tawh.îd al-rubûbiyya is not taken into account because the idolaters also had such knowledge." He then compared the scholars of kalâm to the Arab idol-worshippers who accepted tawh.îd al-rubûbiyya but ignored tawh.îd al-ulûhiyya! This dialectic was imitated by Ibn Abî al-`Izz in his commentary on al-T.ah.âwî's `Aqîda.
Abû H.âmid Ibn Marzûq [Imâm al-`Arabî al-Tubbânî] wrote:
Imâm Ah.mad ibn H.anbal... never said that tawh.îd consisted in two parts, one being tawh.îd al-rubûbiyya and the other tawh.îd al-ulûhiyya. Nor did he ever say that "whoever does not know tawh.îd al-ulûhiyya, his knowledge of tawh.îd al-rubûbiyya 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.îd consisted in two parts, one being tawh.îd al-rubûbiyya and the other tawh.îd al-ulûhiyya, nor did any of them ever say that "whoever does not know tawh.îd al-ulûhiyya, his knowledge of tawh.îd al-rubûbiyya 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.îd consists in two parts, one being tawh.îd al-rubûbiyya and the other tawh.îd al-ulûhiyya, nor that "whoever does not know tawh.îd al-ulûhiyya, his knowledge of tawh.îd al-rubûbiyya 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 Allâh was in order that they witness that there is no God except Allâh alone and that Muh.ammad is the Messenger of Allâh, and in order that they repudiate idol-worship. One of the most famous illustrations of this is the narration of Mu`âdh 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 Allâh and Muh.ammad is the Messenger of Allâh...." And it is narrated in five of the six books of authentic traditions - and Ibn H.ibbân 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.îd al-ulûhiyya of which they were ignorant - since tawh.îd al-rubûbiyya they knew already - and he should have said to Mu`âdh: "Invite them to tawh.îd al-ulûhiyyaî; and he should have asked the Bedouin who had sighted the new moon of Ramadan: "Do you know tawh.îd al-ulûhiyya?"
Finally, in His precious Book which falsehood cannot approach whether from the front or from the back, Allâh never ordered tawh.îd al-ulûhiyya to His servants, nor did He ever say that "whoever does not know this tawh.îd, his knowledge of tawh.îd al-rubûbiyya is not taken into account."
Ibn Marzûq is the pseudonym of Shaykh Muh.ammad ibn `Alawî's Shaykh, Muh.ammad al-`Arabî ibn al-Tubbânî al-Maghribî al-Mâlikî al-Makkî (d. 1390) who authored both Barâ'at al-Ash`ariyyîn and al-Ta`qîb al-Mufîd `alâ Hady al-Zura`î al-Shadîd in refutation of Ibn Taymiyya, Ibn al-Qayyim, and the Wahhâbî movement's insinuations against the Ash`arîs.
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.ammâd 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 makân ilâ makân?)" H.ammâd replied: "He Himself is in His place, and He comes near His creation in the way that He likes (huwa fî makânihi yaqrabu min khalqihi kayfa shâ')." 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 Allâh (swt) is unheard of among the Salaf.
His report from Ish.âq ibn Râhûyah's words to the Emir `Abd Allâh ibn T.âhir: "He is able to descend without the Throne being vacant of Him" (yaqdiru an yanzila min ghayri an yakhlua al-`arshu minh). Such a statement leaves nothing of the characteristics of creatures except it attributed it to the Creator: body, place, surface, and displacement!
Al-Bayhaqî in al-Asmâ' wa al-S.ifât narrates the reports of Ish.âq's encounter with the Emir `Abd Allâh ibn T.âhir with five chains (three of them sound according to al-H.âshidî), 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.adîth al-Nuzûl (p. 42-59) that Allâh Most High descends "in person" yet remains above the Throne "in person"! That position has been characterized by Imâm Abû Zahra (see further below) as a dual assertion of the aboveness and belowness of Allâh Most High on the part of Ibn Taymiyya, although strenuously denied by Ibn Taymiyya himself in Minhâj al-Sunna and by al-Albânî who defends the latter against Abû Zahra's conclusion in his introduction to Mukhtas.ar al-`Uluw!
His report from Abû `Umar al-T.alamankî's book al-Wus.ûl ilâ Ma`rifat al-Us.ûl: "Ahl al-Sunna wa al-Jamâ`a are in agreement (muttafiqûn) that Allâh established Himself in person (bi dhâtihi) on the Throne." Note that Ibn Taymiyya quotes inaccurately, as al-Dhahabî quotes from the same book the following passage: "The Muslims of Ahl al-Sunna wa al-Jamâ`a have reached consensus (ajma`[û]) that Allâh is above the heavens in person (bi dhâtihi) and is established over His Throne in the mode that He pleases (kayfa shâ')." Of course, both assertions are false since no such consensus exists; and the position of Ahl al-Sunna is that whoever attributes direction to Allâh commits apostasy.
His statement: "The scholars approved by Allâh and His accepted Friends have narrated that Muh.ammad the Messenger of Allâh (swt) will be seated by His Lord on the Throne next to Him." By "the scholars approved by Allâh and His accepted Friendsî here he means a minority of H.anbalî scholars with anthropomorphist convictions.
His claim regarding the narration of `Abd Allâh ibn Khalîfa from `Umar whereby "the Prophet ﷺ glorified Allâh and said: `Verily, His Seat of Authority (kursî) encompasses the heavens and the earth, and verily He sits on it (innahu yajlisu `alayh) 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-Dhahabî and Ibn Kathîr - grade it "denounced" (munkar), and he himself acknowledge Abû Bakr al-Ismâ`îlî's rejection of it among others.
His statement that "I do not know any of the Salaf of the Community nor any of the Imâms, neither Ah.mad ibn H.anbal nor other than him, that considered these [verses on the Divine Names and Attributes] as part of the mutashâbih" when everyone has heard the statement of Imâm Mâlik on istiwâ' whereby "its modality is inconceivable" (al-kayfu ghayr ma`qûl)! Al-Baghdâdî in Us.ûl al-Dîn cites, among those who consider the verse of istiwâ' one of the mutashâbihât, Mâlik ibn Anas, the seven jurists of Madîna, and al-As.mâ'î while Imâm al-Ghazzâlî counted the verses and narrations on the Divine Attributes among the mutashâbihât in al-Mustas.fâ and Imâm al-Nawawî concurred with him.
His statements: "The elevation of Allâh (swt) over the Throne is literal, and the elevation of the creature over the ship is literal" (lillâhi ta`âla istiwâ'un `alâ `arshihi h.aqîqatan wa li al-`abdi istiwâ'un `alâ al-fulki h.aqîqatan). "Allâh is with us literally, and He is above His Throne literally (Allâhu ma`ana h.aqîqatan wa huwa fawqa al-`arshi h.aqîqatan). ... Allâh is with His creation literally and He is above His Throne literally (Allâhu ma`a khalqihi h.aqîqatan wa huwa fawqa al-`arshi h.aqîqatan)."
The above statements all undoubtedly corroborate Ibn H.ajar's and Ibn Bat.t.ût.a's reports whereby he once climbed down the minbar in purported illustration of the descent of Allâh (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 `Abd al-Wahhâb al-Najdî brought them back from oblivion. Later, the "Salafî" movement revived them through a large-scale publication campaign backed up by political and financial activism from the 1930s to our day.
Imâm Muh.ammad Abû Zahra said in his book on the history of the madhâhib in Islâm:
The Wahhâbîs appeared in the Arabian desert [...] and revived the School of Ibn Taymiyya. The founder of the Wahhâbiyya is Muh.ammad ibn `Abd al-Wahhâb 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 Wahhâbîs 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 (`ibâda) in the same way that Islâm had stipulated in the Qur'ân and Sunna and as Ibn Taymiyya had mentioned, but they wished to include customs (`âdât) also into the province of Islâm 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 Khawârij 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 Wahhâbis 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 Wahhâbî thought in the field of war and battle was Muh.ammad ibn Sa`ûd, the ancestor of the ruling Sa`ûdî family in the Arabian lands. He was a brother-in-law to Shaykh Muh.ammad ibn `Abd al-Wahhâb 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 bid`a. Perhaps, this religious mission that took a violent turn was carrying with itself a rebellion against Ottoman rule. [...] Until the governor of Egypt, Muhammad `Alî, faced them and pounced on the Wahhâbîs 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 da`wa 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.ijâz 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 bid`a 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.ammadî (sayyiduna Muh.ammad) is an impermissible bid`a 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 Wahhâbîs 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 bid`a and construed as innovations things that have no relation to worship. [...] In fact, it has been noticed that the Ulema of the Wahhâbîs 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 Khawârij 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.ijâz country was in the hand of the Sa`ûd family, the matter became of the utmost gravity. This is why the late King `Abd al-`Azîz of the Sa`ûd family opposed them, and treated their opinions as confined to themselves and irrelevant to others."
The Mauritanian Shaykh Muh.ammad Miska al-Ya`qûbî's Fatâwâ Ibn Taymiyya fîl-Mîzân 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-Jamâ`a
Al-Ghazzâlî's Qawâ`id al-Ah.kâm Ibn `Abd al-Salâm's Mulh.a
Chapter One: Salient Characteristics of IT's Fatâwâ
1. The Prevalence of Tashbîh and Tajsîm in the Fatâwâ 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'ân and Sunna
2. Refutation of direction by rational proofs
Second corollary: IT's virulent denial of kalâm 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 Allâh (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'ân is created and that Allâh speaks with a voice
1. Establishing his creed in this from his own words
2. Refutation of his creed that the Qur'ân is created and his attribution of voice and silence to Allâh Most High
Chapter Five: His creed in the non-`is.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 Allâh
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-Dhahabî, Tadhkirat al-H.uffâz. 4:1496 #1177; Ibn Kathîr, al-Bidâya wa al-Nihâya 14:5, 14:42-48; Ibn H.ajar, al-Durar al-Kâmina 1:144-160 #409; al-Haytamî, Fatâwâ H.adîthiyya; al-Kawtharî, Maqâlât.
The Refutation of he who attributes direction to Allah, by Sh. G F Haddad
publ. at: Aqsa Publications, x L 20120703
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Ibn Jahbal on Ibn Taymiyya
Ibn Taymiyya/Shah Wali Allah/Ibn `Abd al-Barr
Missed Prayers & Ibn Taymiyyah
Ibn Taymiyah within the Hanbali madhab
Imâm Ahmad's `Aqîda and Pseudo-H. anbal `Aqîda
Debate with Ibn Taymiyya: ON TASAWWUF Ibn Ata Allah al-Iskandari