by Sh. G. F. Haddad

If-on-the-path-tow-Allah-run-Imam-Shafii Ibn Fûrâk, Muh.ammad ibn al-H.asan ibn Fûrâk, Abû Bakr al-As.bahânî al-Shâfi`î (d. 406), the Imâm and foremost specialist of kalâm and us.ûl, transmitter of al-Ash`arî's school, specialist of Arabic language, grammar and poetry, orator, jurist, and h.adîth scholar. He studied doctrine under al-Ash`arî's companion, Abû al-H.asan al-Bâhilî, and Abû `Uthmân al-Maghribî who stipulated, before his death, that Ibn Fûrâk lead the funeral prayer over him.
Ibn Fûrâk taught al-Qushayrî and al-Bayhaqî who cite him frequently in al-Risâla and al-Asmâ' wa al-S.ifât respectively. He fought and defeated the anthropomorphist Karrâmiyya in Rayy then went to Naysabûr where he trained generations of fuqahâ' at a school founded for him, an expansion of Abû al-H.asan al-Bushanji's earlier S.ûfî school (khânqah). He brought to Naysabûr the transmissions of the narrators of Bas.ra and Baghdâd and authored numerous books in various disciplines.

`Abd al-Ghaffâr ibn Ismâ`îl said: "Ibn Fûrâk's works in us.ûl al-dîn, us.ûl al-fiqh, and the meanings of the Qur'ân count nearly one hundred volumes." Among them: Mujarrad Maqâlât al-Ash`arî and Mushkal al-H.adîth wa Bayanuh, in which he refuted both the anthropomorphist tendencies of H.anbalî literalists and the over-interpretation of the Mu`tazila.
Ibn Fûrâk said that he embarked on the study of kalâm because of the h.adîth reported from the Prophet : "The Black Stone is the right hand of Allâh Most High"1 which a mutakallim explained to his satisfaction in contrast to the fuqahâ'.

Upon returning from Ghazna after the failure of the Karrâmiyya to have him executed by the Sultan - after the latter questioned him then exonerated him of the charges they had brought against him - he fell on the road, poisoned. He was carried back to Naysabûr and buried in al-Hira. Ibn `Asâkir relates that his grave is a place of visitation where one seeks healing (istishfâ') and one's prayer is answered.
Abû `Alî al-Daqqâq was heard supplicating on behalf of a number of a people and was asked: "Why do you not supplicate on behalf of Ibn Fûrâk?" He replied: "How can I supplicate on his behalf when only yesterday I implored Allâh to cure me for the sake of Ibn Fûrâk!"

Al-Dhahabî in his cursory notice on Ibn Fûrâk mentioned spurious derogatory reports from Ibn H.azm - without questioning nor commenting them in the least - whereby Ibn Fûrâk said that the Prophet is no longer a Prophet after his death and other things which entail disbelief then stated: "But Ibn Fûrâk was better than Ibn H.azm, of greater stature, and better belief."2
Ibn al-Subkî showed that these were anti-Ash`arî fabrications falsely attributed to Ibn Fûrâk, al-Ash`arî, and his companions and declared false by al-Qushayrî and Ibn al-S.alâh..3
Ibn al-Subkî further relates that Ibn Fûrâk considered a disbeliever whoever said that the Prophet is no longer a Prophet.

Furthermore Ibn Fûrâk said: "The Ash`arî doctrine is that our Prophet is alive in his grave and is the Messenger of Allâh forever until the end of time, literally, not metaphorically, and that he was a Prophet when Adam was between water and clay, and his prophethood remains until now, and shall ever remain."4
Finally, Ibn al-Subkî took al-Dhahabî to task for his ambiguity: "As for his declaring that Ibn Fûrâk was better than Ibn H.azm, it is a matter for Allâh Most High, and we ask our Shaykh: If Ibn Fûrâk truly said this, then there is no good in him at all; and if he did not, then why did you not clarify it lest someone be misled by this report?!"

The martyred Imâm Abû al-H.ajjâj Yûsuf ibn Dûnas al-Findalawî al-Mâlikî mentioned that Ibn Fûrâk never slept in a house that contained a volume of the Qur'ân, but would go and sleep somewhere else out of respect. Among his sayings:

* "Every instance in which you see scholarly endeavor but upon which there is no light: know that it is a hidden innovation (bid`a khafiyya)." Ibn al-Subkî said: "This is truly well-said and shows the great refinement of the Teacher. Its foundation is the saying of the Prophet : `Virtue is what sets the soul at rest."5

* "It is impermissible for the walî to know that he is a walî because it annuls his fear and imposes self-security upon him." Abû `Alî al-Daqqâq considered it permissible. Al-Qushayrî said: "And this is what we prefer, and choose, and declare." Ibn al-Subkî said: "Abû al-Qâsim is right without the shadow of a doubt, for knowledge of one's wilâya does not do away with one's fear of Allâh, nor knowledge of one's Prophethood. Indeed, Prophets are the most fearful of Allâh of all people, yet they know that they are Prophets.
And the walî does not cease to fear the design of Allâh as long as he lives, and this is the greatest proof of fear. `Umar said: 'If one of my feet were inside Paradise and the other still outside, I would not feel secure from the design of Allâh Most High.'"6

The Prophet described the "friends of Allâh" (awliyâ') as "Those who, when you see them, remind you of Allâh"7
while `Alî ( exclaimed: "Ah! how one yearns to see them!"8
Al-Qushayrî defined the walî as "One whose obedience attains permanence without the interference of sin; or one whom Allâh Most High preserves and guards, in permanent fashion, from the failures of sin through the power of acts of obedience: {He befriends the righteous} (7:196)."9
Their position in relation to Allâh on the Day of Judgment is described as an object of desire for the Prophets in the authentic narrations. One h.adîth qudsî states:
"Those who love one another for the sake of My Majesty shall have pulpits of light and the Prophets and martyrs shall yearn to be in their position."10
Another narration states:
"Truly Allâh has servants whom He shall seat on pulpits of light, and their faces shall completely overcome the fire of hell until the judgment of creatures is concluded."11
The following are longer versions of the same h.adîth as narrated respectively by Abû Hurayra and Abû Mâlik al-Ash`arî:

[Abû Hurayra:] The Prophet said: "Truly there are servants, among the servants of Allâh, that are not Prophets but whom the Prophets and martyrs yearn to be like." Someone asked: "Who are they so that we may love them?" He said: "They are a folk who loved one another with the light of Allâh, without kinship nor affiliation. Their faces are light on pulpits of light. They shall not fear when all people fear, nor shall they grieve when all people grieve." Then he recited: {The Friends of Allâh! Truly no fear shall there be for them, nor shall they grieve} (10:62).

[Abû Mâlik:] When the Prophet finished his prayer he turned facing the people and said: "O people! Listen to this, understand it, and know it. Allâh has servants who are neither Prophets nor martyrs and whom the Prophets and martyrs yearn to be like, due to their seat and proximity in relation to Allâh.
" One of the Bedouin Arabs who came from among the most isolated of people twisted his hand at the Prophet and said: "O Messenger of Allâh! People from humankind who are neither Prophets nor martyrs and yet the Prophets and the martyrs yearn to be like them due to their seat and proximity in relation to Allâh? Describe them for us!" The face of the Prophet showed delight at the question and he said:
"They are of the strangers from here and there. They frequent this tribe or that without belonging to any of them. They do not have family connections with each other. They love one another for the sake of Allâh. They are of pure intent towards one another. On the Day of Resurrection Allâh shall place for them pedestals of light upon which He shall seat them, and He will turn their faces and clothes into light. On the Day of Resurrection the people will be terrified but not those. They are {the Friends of Allâh upon whom fear comes not, nor do they grieve} (10:62)."12


1 Narrated from Ibn `Abbâs, Jâbir, Anas, and others by Ibn Abî `Umar al-Ma`danî in his Musnad, al-T.abarânî, al-Suyût.î in his Jâmi` al-Saghîr (1:516 #3804-3805), Ibn `Asâkir in Târîkh Dimashq (15:90- 92), al-Khat.îb in Târîkh Baghdâd (6:328), and others. It is considered forged by Ibn al-Jawzî and Ibn `Adî (al-Kâmil 1:342). Cf. al-Ah.dab, Zawâ'id Târîkh Baghdâd (5:321-323 #949). However, al-`Ajlûnî stated that it is s.ah.îh. as a halted report from Ibn `Abbâs as narrated by al-Qud.â`î with the wording: "The Corner [of the Black Stone] (al-rukn) is the Right Hand of Allâh on earth...," and declared it h.asan as a h.adîth of the Prophet
Ibn Qutayba in Ta'wîl Mukhtalif al-H.adîth (1972 ed. p. 215=1995 ed. p. 198, 262) said that it was a saying of Ibn `Abbâs and relates a saying of `A'isha that the Black Stone is the depository of the covenant of human souls with Allâh ( on the Day of Promise (alastu bi rabbikum). Its mention in the Reliance of the Traveller (p. 853b) as "narrated by al-H.âkim, who declared it s.ah.îh., from `Abd Allâh ibn `Amr," is incorrect. Note: An authentic narration states that the Black Stone shall appear with two eyes and a tongue on the Day of Resurrection. Narrated by al-Tirmidhî, Ibn Mâjh, Ah.mad, al-Dârimî, Ibn H.ibbân (#3711-3712), and others.

2 He claims that Ibn Fûrâk said of the Prophet : "He was the Prophet of Allâh, but today no longer is" and he cites Ibn H.azm's claim that Ibn Fûrâk said something even more derogatory. Siyar (13:131). Ibn H.azm is known for his rabid enmity to Ash`arîs, and he is the model of those who attack Ash`arîs in later times as Ibn Taymiyya and some of his modern epigones.

3 T.abaqât al-Shâfi`iyya al-Kubrâ (3:384-385; 3:399-423; 4:131-132; 4:406-416). "As for what is alleged whereby al-Ash`arî and his companions said that Muh.ammad is no longer a Prophet in his grave nor a Messenger after his death: this is a great calumny and a crass lie. None of them ever said anything of the kind; nor was it heard from them in any debate; nor is it found in any of their books. And how can such a thing be correctly related from them when their position is that the Prophet is alive in his grave?" Al-Qushayrî, Shikâyat Ahl al-Sunna in Ibn al-Subkî, T.abaqât al-Shâfi`iyya al-Kubrâ (3:406, cf. 3:384).

4 T.abaqât al-Shâfi`iyya al-Kubrâ (4:131-132).

5 Narrated from Abû Tha`laba al-Khushanî by Ah.mad with a sound chain as stated by al-Haythamî (1:175) and Ah.mad Shâkir in the Musnad (13:479 #17671), and from Wâbis.a ibn Ma`bad al-Asadî by Ah.mad and al-Dârimî.

6 Tabyîn (p. 230-231); Siyar (13:130-131 #3739); T.abaqât al-Shâfi`iyya al-Kubrâ (4:127-135 #317).

7 H.adîth (h.asan) of the Prophet in response to the question: "Who are the awliyâ of Allâh?" and - in some narrations - the question: "Who should we sit with?" Narrated from Ibn `Abbâs by al-Nasâ'î in al-Sunan al-Kubrâ (6:362), Ibn al-Mundhir, Abû al-Shaykh, Ibn Mubârak, al-Bazzâr in his Musnad (#3626, cf. Ibn H.ajar's Mukhtas.ar 2:394-395 #2083 and al-Haythamî's Majma` al-Zawâ'id 10:78), al-T.abarî in his Tafsîr (11:131), Ibn Abî H.âtim, al-`Askarî, al-T.abarânî in al-Kabîr (#12325), Ibn al-Mubârak in al-Zuhd (#218), Abû Nu`aym in Akhbâr As.bahân (1:231), and Ibn Mardûyah; from Ibn `Abbâs, `Abd Allâh ibn `Amr, and Anas ibn Mâlik by al-H.akîm al-Tirmidhî in Nawâdir al-Us.ûl (p. 140, cf. p. 158 "The conditions of wilâya and p. 204-209 "
Profile of the awliyâ'"); from Ibn Mas`ûd by al-T.abarî in his Tafsîr (11:131) and al-T.abarânî with a chain of trustworthy narrators but for one unknown per al-Haythamî (10:78); from Abû Mâlik al-Ash`arî by al-Kharâ'it.î in Masâwi' al-Akhlâq (#233); mursal from the Tâbi`î Sa`îd ibn Jubayr by Ibn al-Mubârak in al-Zuhd (#218), Ibn Abî Shayba, al-T.abarî in his Tafsîr (11:131-132), Abû al-Shaykh, al-Dûlâbî
in al-Kunâ (1:106), Abû Nu`aym in the H.ilya (1985 ed. 1:6) and Ibn Mardûyah; mursal from the Tâbi`î `Abd al-Rah.mân ibn Ghanam al-Ash`arî by Imâm Ah.mad in his Musnad (al-Zayn ed. 14:31 #17921: isnâd h.asan; al-Arna'ût. ed. 29:521-523 h.asan bi shawâhidih) cf. al-Haythamî (8:93) and al-Mundhirî in al-Targhîb (=3:499); and from Ibn `Abbâs mawqûf by T.abarânî, Abû al-Shaykh, Ibn Mardûyah, and al-D.iyâ' al-Maqdisî in al-Mukhtâra. Also narrated with the wording: "The best among you are those who, when they are seen, Allâh is remembered" from Asmâ' bint Yazîd by Ah.mad, al-Bayhaqî in Shu`ab al-Imân (7:494), Abû Nu`aym in the H.ilya, Ibn Mardûyah, Musaddad, Ibn Abî Shayba, `Abd al-Razzâq, `Abd ibn H.âmid, Abû Ya`lâ al-Maws.ilî, and Ibn Mâjah with a fair (h.asan) chain as stated by al-Bûs.îrî in Mis.bâh. al-Zujâja (4:215); from Ibn `Umar by al-Bayhaqî in Shu`ab al-Imân (5:297 #6708 with a weak chain because of Ibn Lahî`a and a missing Tâbi`î link); and from `Ubada ibn al-Samit with a very weak chain because of Yazîd ibn Rabî`a by al-Bazzâr in his Musnad (#2719) and by al-T.abarânî as stated by al-Haythamî (8:93). Ibn H.ajar in his Mukhtas.ar (2:395) considers it a saying of the Tabi`î Tawus ibn Kaysan.

See also al-`Ajlûnî's Kashf al-Khafâ (#3626). More explicit yet is the h.adîth of the Prophet narrated by al-T.abarânî with a chain of trustworthy narrators according to al-Haythamî in the Majma` (10:78): "{The Friends of Allâh! Truly no fear shall there be for them, nor shall they grieve} (10:62). Allâh is remembered through their remembrance (dhikr) [or: `through remembrance of them']" (yudhkaru Allâhu bi dhikrihim). Cf. Fayd. (#2885, #3976) and corresponding commentary in al-Ghumârî's al-Mudâwî.

8 Narrated by Ibn al-Jawzî in S.ifat al-S.afwa 2(4):10 (#570) and 1(2):203 (#254) and Abû Nu`aym, H.ilyat al-Awliyâ' (6:155) and in the chapter titled "Abû Hâshim."

9 Al-Qushayrî as cited in Ibn `Abidîn, Rasâ'il (2:277).

10 Narrated from Mu`âdh and `Ubada ibn al-S.âmit. by al-Tirmidhî who graded it h.asan s.ah.îh. and Ibn H.ibbân (2:338 #577), Ah.mad in the Musnad and his son `Abd Allâh in Zawâ'id al-Musnad (5:328), al-T.abarânî in al-Kabîr (20:167-168), and Abû Nu`aym in the H.ilya (1985 ed. 2:131), all with a good chain according to al-Arna'ût. in Ibn H.ibbân. One of `Ubada's versions replaces the Martyrs with the S.iddîqûn.

11 Narrated from Abû Umâma by al-T.abarânî [in Musnad al-Shâmiyyîn (2:10)] with a good chain according to al-Haythamî (10:277).

12 Narrated from Abû Hurayra by Ibn H.ibbân (2:332-334 #573) with a sound chain according to Shaykh Shu`ayb al-Arna'ût., and al-Nasâ'î in al-Sunan al-Kubrâ (6:362 #11153), al-T.abarî in his Tafsîr (11:132), and al-Mundhirî in al-Targhîb (=4:20); from Abû Mâlik al-Ash`arî by Ah.mad, al-T.abarânî, and Abû Ya`lâ with a chain of trustworthy narrators [except for Shahr ibn H.awshab who is mostly reliable]; also by al-Baghawî
in Sharh. al-Sunna (13:50 #3464) and al-T.abarî in his Tafsîr (11:132)]; from Abû al-Dardâ' by al-T.abarânî with a fair chain according to al-Mundhirî]; and from `Amr ibn `Abasa al-Sulamî with a chain of narrators considered trustworthy,
all three gradings according to al-Haythamî (10:276-277, 10:77); from `Umar by Abû Dâwûd with a chain of sound narrators, Abû Nu`aym in the H.ilya (1985 ed. 1:5) with a good chain as per al-Arna'ût., and al-T.abarî in his Tafsîr (11:132); from Ibn `Umar by al-H.âkim (4:170-171 s.ah.îh., confirmed by al-Dhahabî); and from Abû Umâma by al-T.abarânî with a good chain according to al-Mundhirî (=4:20) and al-Haytamî (10:277); also by Ibn `Asâkir, Ibn Abî al-Dunyâ in Kitâb al-Ikhwan, Ibn Abî H.âtim, and Ibn Mardûyah.

Hajj Gibril

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latest update: 2015-09-02


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