بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Todays’ google scholarship standard, that every other muslim meets, has produced some incredibly evil people, and all these evil people do, is critique others. We find the left wing claiming that Ibn Taymiyyah was a deviant of sorts. Not only do they falsify statements and misinterpret his works, they bring false proof from his contemporarys claiming they also thought the same, on top of that, we have modern day “scholars” who claim the same manhaj as Ibn Taymiyyah, that are now distancing themselves from him.
The claims as expected are many, the shaikh wrote thousands of risalahs, and the critique is expected, but how much of Ibn Taymiyyah is really known by these very people. I hope that by the end of this article the reader is more informed on the person that many call Shaikh Al-Islaam, so that they can themselves without coercion make their own minds up on what Ibn Taymiyyah really believed and taught.
He is the mujtahid and reformer of his age, Ahmad ibn ‘Abdul-Halim ibn ‘Abdus-Salam ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Abu Qasim ibn Taymiyyah al-Harrani Taqi ad-Din Abu’l-Abbas ibn Shihab ad-Din. He rose the flag of the belief and understanding of Ahlus-Sunnah in his time, at a time when innovation, misguidance, and corruption was widespread, being preached by even some of the People of Knowledge that became well known in later. times.
Due to Ibn Taymiyyah’s firm stance against all that was false and corrupt he earned the envy and hatred of all those that he opposed – who were many – and as such had many lies heaped around him. The purpose of this section is to show this scholar in his true light and expose those lies heaped around him.
Al-Hafidh Al-Bazzar said, depicting the opponents of Ibn Taymiyyah,“You would not see a scholar opposing him (Ibn Taymiyyah), dissuading from him, filled with hatred for him, except that he was the most greedy of them in gathering the worldly goods, the most cunning of them in acquiring them, the most ostentatious of them, the most desirous for reputation.and the most prolific of them in having lies on his tongue.”[Al-A’lam al-Uliyyah (p. 82) of Al-Bazzar]
The Praise of the Scholars of Him
Many of the scholars of his time and after his time praised Shaykh ul-Islam for his knowledge, asceticism, piety, and following closely the way of the salaf. Many of these statements of praise were collected in a book written by Al-Hafidh Ibn Nasir ad-Din entitled ‘Radd al-Wafir‘ refuting the extreme claim of the one that said calling Ibn Taymiyyah, ‘Shaykh ul-Islam‘, was unbelief.
Al-Hafidh Adh-Dhahabi said:
“It was amazing when he mentioned an issue over which there was a difference of opinion, and when he gave evidence and decided the strongest opinion – and he could perform ‘ijtihad due to his fulfilling it’s conditions. I have not seen one who was quicker than he at recalling a verse which pertained to the issue that he derived from it, nor a man who was more strong in recalling texts and referring them to their sources. The Sunnah was in front of his eyes and upon the tip of his tongue with eloquent phrases and an open eye.
“He was a sign from the signs of Allah in tafsir and expounding upon it. With regards to the foundation of the religion and knowledge of the differing opinions (on an issue) then he was unequalled – this alongside his generosity, courage and lack of attention to the joys of the soul.
“And maybe his legal rulings in the various sciences reached three hundred volumes, rather more and he was always saying the truth for the sake of Allah, not caring for the blame that came to him.
“Whosoever associates with him and knows him well accuses me of deficiency/slackness with regards to him. Whosoever opposes him and differs with him accuses me of exaggeration, and I have been wronged by both parties – his companions and his opponents.
“He was white skinned with black hair and a black beard with a few grey hairs. His hair reached his earlobes. His eyes were eloquent tongues, and had broad shoulders and a loud, clear voice with a fast recitation. He was quick to anger but overcame it with patience and forbearance.
“I have not seen his like for supplications (to Allah) and seeking succour with Him, and his abundant concern for others. However I do not believe him to be infallible, rather I differ with him on both fundamental and subsidiary matters for he – despite his vast learning, extreme courage, fluid mind, and regard for the sanctity of the religion – was a man from amongst men. He could be overcome with sharpness and anger in discussion, and attack his opponents (verbally) hence planting enmity in their souls towards him.
“If only he were gentle to his opponents then there would have been a word of agreement over him – for indeed their great scholars bowed to his learning, acknowledged his ability and lack of mistakes, and conceded that he was an ocean having no limits and a treasure having no equivalent. However they harboured ill feeling against him..and every person’s saying can be taken or left.
“He used to preserve the prayers and fasts, glorifying the laws outwardly and inwardly. He did not give fatwa out of poor understanding for he was extremely intelligent, nor out of lack of knowledge for he was an overflowing ocean. Neither did he play with the religion but derived evidence from the Qur’an, Sunnah andQiyas (analogy) and proved and argued following the footsteps of the Imams who preceded him, so he has a reward if he erred and two rewards if he was correct.
“He fell ill in the castle (in which he was imprisoned) with a serious disease until he died on the night of Monday 20th Dhul-Qa’dah, and they prayed over him in the mosque of Damascus. And afterwards many talked about the number that attended his funeral prayer, and the least number given was fifty thousand.” [Ad-Durar al-Kaminah of Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani under the biography of Ibn Taymiyyah]
Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani said:
“The shaykh of our shayukh, Al-Hafidh Abu’l-Yu’mari (Ibn Sayyid an-Nas) said in his biography of Ibn Taymiyyah: ‘Al-Mizzi encouraged me to express my opinion on Shaykh ul-Islam Taqi ad-Din. I found him to be from those who had acquired a fortunate of knowledge in the sciences that he had. He used to completely memorise and implement the Sunan and athar (narrations). Should he speak about tafsir then he would carry its flag, and should he pass a fatwa in fiqh then he knew its limits. Should he speak about ahadith then he was the companion of its knowledge and fully cognisant of its narrations. Should he give a lecture on Religions and Sects then none was seen who was more comprehensive or meticulous than he, he surpassed his contemporaries in every science, and you would not see one like him, and his own eye did not see one like himself.
“He used to speak on tafsir and a large number of people would attend his gatherings, and an agreeable number would return (having drunk) from his sweet, rich ocean. It continued in this way until the sickness of envy crept (into the hearts) of the people of his city. The people given to fault finding gathered together and picked out anything that could be disapproved of in his beliefs, and they memorised certain of his statements with respect to this. They undermined him due to this and laid traps for him by which they could declare him to be an innovator. They thought that he had left their way, and split off from their sect. So they argued with him, and he with them, and some of them cut relations with him, and he with them.
“Then he argued with another group who was attributed to theFuqara (a group of the Sufis) who thought that they were on the minute details of the inner reality and upon its truth. And he exposed these Orders …
“Then this reached the first group and they sought help from those who cut relations with him and harboured malice towards him. So they took the matter to the rulers, each of them having decided that he was a disbeliever. And they prepared a meeting and inspired the ignorant people to spread the word amongst the great scholars. And they took steps to transfer the matter to the King of Egypt and as a result he (Ibn Taymiyyah) was arrested and put in prison. And gatherings were convened to discuss the spilling of his blood, calling for this purpose the people from the small mosques and students – those people who would argue to make others happy, and those who would argue to show their cleverness, and those who declared takfir and called for disassociation. And your Lord Knows what is in their hearts and what they proclaim. And the one who announced his kufr was no better than the one who argued to make others happy.
“And the sting of their plots crept up on him, and Allah made futile every plot, and rescued him at the hands of those who He chose.
“Then he continuously moved from one trial to another and in all his life he did not move from trouble except into trouble. Then there followed what followed in the matter of his arrest and he stayed there in prison until he died, and to Allah all matters return. On the day of his funeral the streets were crowded, and the Muslims came from every roadway.’ “ [ibid]
Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani also said:
“I read in the handwriting of Al-Hafidh Silah ad-Din al-Bala’i in endorsement of the shaykh of our shayukh Al-Hafidh Baha ad-Din ‘Abdullah ibn Muhammad ibn Khalil: ‘Our shaykh and master andImam in matters that are between Allah and us, the Shaykh of research (tahqiq), traversing, with those that followed him, the best way. Possessor of many excellent qualities and radiant proofs that all the nations have acknowledged are beyond enumeration. May Allah make us benefit from his outstanding knowledge, and make us benefit from him in this life and the hereafter. He is the Shaykh, the Imam, the alim who understands the affairs, the deeply devoted, the ocean (of knowledge), the pole of light, the Imam of Imams, the blessing to the Muslim nation, the sign of the scholars, the inheritor of the Prophets, the last of the Mujtahids, unique amongst the scholars of the Religion – Shaykh ul-Islam, proof of the scholars, the example for the creatures, proof for the learned ones, effacer of the innovators, sword of the disputers, ocean of knowledge, beneficial treasure, the interpreter of the Qur’an, the amazement of the times, unique in this age and others. Indeed Taqi ad-Din (Ibn Taymiyyah) is the Imam of the Muslims, the proof of Allah against the creation, the joiner of the righteous, the one who is like those who have preceded, the mufti of the sect, helper of the truth, the sign of guidance, the pillar of the Huffadh, Knight of the meanings of words, cornerstone of the Shari’ah, originator of new sciences Abu’l-Abbas ibn Taymiyyah.’ “ [Ibid. From this book taken on it ‘s own it is very difficult to discern Ibn Hajar’s own opinion on Ibn Taymiyyah was. For all he did was to gather all the material he could find on theShaykh and then start off the account with all those scholars who wrote against him, and end with all those scholars who supported him. It would seem likely that Ibn Hajar’s own stance would be in line with those whom he finished off his biography with, due to their being his shayukh. This reasoning is supported with the next quote from Ibn Hajar. Allah knows best]
Ibn Hajar said:
” … those of his stances that were rejected from him were not said by him due to mere whims and desires and neither did he obstinately and deliberately persist in them after the evidence was established against him. Here are his works overflowing with refutations of those who held to tajsim yet despite this he is a man who makes mistakes and is also correct. So that which he is correct in – and that is the majority – is to benefited from and Allah’s Mercy should be sought for him due to it, and that which he is incorrect in should not be blindly followed. Indeed he is excused for his mistakes because he is one of the Imams of his time and it has been witnessed that he fulfilled the conditions of ijtihad.
“From the astonishing qualities of this man was that he was the strongest amongst men against the People of Innovation, theRawafidah, and the Hululiyyah, and the Ittihadiyyah, and his works on this are many and famous, and his fatawa on them cannot be counted, so how the eyes of these innovators must have found joy when they heard those who declared him to be a kafir! And how delighted they must have been when they saw those who did not declare him to be a kafir in turn being labelled kafir! It is obligatory upon the one who has donned the robe of knowledge and possesses intelligence that he consider the words of a man based upon his well-known books or from the tongues of those who are trusted to accurately convey his words – then to isolate from all of this what is rejected and warn from them with the intention of giving sincere advice and to praise him for his excellent qualities and for what he was correct in as is the way of the scholars.
“If there were no virtues of Shaykh Taqi ad-Din except for his famous student Shaykh Shams ad-Din ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, writer of many works, from which both his opponents and supporters benefited from then this would be a sufficient indication of his (Ibn Taymiyyah’s) great position. And how could it be otherwise when the Shafi’i Imams and others, not to speak of the Hanabila, of his time testified to his prominence in the (Islamic) sciences.” [From Ibn Hajar’s endorsement of ‘Radd al-Wafir‘ contained at the end of the book]
Ibn Kathir said, “The least he would do when he heard something was to memorise it and then busy himself with learning it. He was intelligent and had much committed to memory, and he became an Imam in tafsirand everything linked to it and knowledgeable in fiqh. Indeed it was said he was more knowledgeable of the fiqh of the madhahib then the followers of those very same madhahib in his time and other than his time. He was a scholar in Usul and the branches of the religion and grammar and the language and other textual and intellectual sciences. No scholar of a science would speak to him except that he thought that that science was the speciality of Ibn Taymiyyah. As for hadith then he was the carrier of its flag, a hafidh and able to distinguish the weak from the strong, fully acquainted with the narrators.” [‘Al-Bidayah wa’n-Nihayah‘ (14/118-119) of Ibn Kathir]
He also said, “He was, may Allah have mercy upon him, from the greatest of scholars, also from those who err and are correct. However his errors with respect to his correct rulings were like a drop in a huge ocean and they are forgiven him as is authentically reported by Bukhari ‘when a ruler makes a ruling, and he is correct then he has two rewards, and if he has erred then he has one reward.’ “
He also mentioned that when the scholars of his time gathered for a sitting with Ibn Taymiyyah to discuss his work ‘Aqidah al-Hamawiyyah that his replies to their accusations could not be rebutted. [‘Al-Bidayah wa’n-Nihayah‘ (14/5)]
Similarly he mentioned that when the scholars sat to argue with him with regards to his ‘Aqidah al-Wasitiyyah the argument ended with them accepting all that was contained in the book as in vol. 14 of ‘Al-Bidayah‘ under the heading ‘Aqd al-Majalis ath-Thalatha‘.
Al-Hafidh Al-Mizzi said, “I have not seen the likes of him, and his own eye had not seen the likes of himself. And I have not seen one who was more knowledgeable than him of the Book and the Sunnah of His Messenger, nor one who followed them more closely.” [‘Hayat Shaykh ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah‘ (p. 21) of Shaykh Bahjatul Baytar]
Al-Hafidh Ibn Daqiq al-‘Eid said, “When I met bn Taymiyyah I saw a man with all the sciences in front of his eyes, he took from them what he wished and he left what he wished.” [‘Min Mashahir al-Mujaddidayn‘ (p. 26) of Shaykh Salih al-Fawzan] This after he had said, “By Allah I did not think that there remained the likes of you.” [‘Al-Bidayah wa’n-Nihayah‘ (14/27) of Ibn Kathir and ‘Dhayl ‘ala Tabaqat al-Hanabila‘ (2/392) of Ibn Rajab]
The Qadhi of Qadhis Ibn al-Huriri said, “If Ibn Taymiyyah was not Shaykh al-Islam than who is?” [‘Hayat Shaykh ul-Islam‘ (p. 26)]
Al-Hafidh Al-Bazzar said, “I have not seen him mention any of the pleasures and attractions of this world, he did not delve into worldly conversations and he never asked for any of its livelihood. Instead he directed his attentions and conversations to seeking the Hereafter and what could get him closer to Allah.” [‘Al-A’lam al-Uliyyah‘ (p. 52) of Al-Bazzar]
Al-Shaykh Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari said, “It will become clear to the one who studies ‘Madarij as-Salikin‘ (of Ibn al-Qayyim) that these two (Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn al-Qayyim) are from the greatest of Ahlus-Sunnah wa’l-Jama’ah, and from the Awliya of this nation.” [‘Mirqat al-Mafatih‘ (8/251-252) his commentary to ‘Mishkat al-Masabih‘, as quoted from in ‘Shubuhat Ahlul-Fitna‘ (pg. 442) of ‘Abdur-Rahman Dimisqiyyah]
Muhammad ibn ‘Abdul-Barr as-Subki said, “By Allah no one hates Ibn Taymiyyah except for an ignoramus or the possessor of desires which have diverted him from the truth after he has come to know it.” [‘Radd al-Wafir‘ (p. 95) of Ibn Nasir ad-Din]
Al-Hafidh ‘Abdur-Rahman ibn Rajab al-Hanbali said, “He is the Imam, the legal Jurist, the Mujtahid, the Scholar of Hadith, the Hafidh, the Explainer of the Qur’an, the Ascetic, Taqi ad-Din Abu’l-Abbas Shaykh ul-Islam, the most knowledgeable of the knowledgeable, it is not possible to exaggerate his renown when he is mentioned … he, may Allah have mercy upon him, was unique in his time with respect to understanding the Qur’an and knowledge of the realities of faith.” [‘Adh-Dhayl ‘ala Tabaqat al-Hanabila‘ (2/387-392) of Ibn Rajab]
The Imam of the Hanafis, Badr ad-Din (Mahmud ibn Ahmad) al-‘Ayni said, “Whosoever says Ibn Taymiyyah is a kafir then he is in reality himself a kafir, and the one who accuses him of heresy is himself a heretic. How is this possible when his works are widely available and there is no hint of deviation or dissension contained therein.” [‘Radd al-Wafir‘ (p. 245)]
As-Suyuti quotes from Az-Zamlakani that he said, “Our Master, ourShaykh, the Imam, the Scholar, the Unique (al-Awhad), the Hafidh, theMujtahid, the Ascetic, the Worshipper (abid), the Example, the Imam of the Imams, the example for the Nation, the sign of the scholars, the inheritor of the Prophets, the Last of the Mujtahids, unique (Awhad) scholar of the Religion, the Blessing for Islam, the Proof of the Scholars (A’lam), the proof of the Mutakallimin, the effacer of the innovators, endowed with exalted and amazing sciences, the Reviver of the Sunnah. The one by whom Allah has greatly favoured us with, and established the proof with against His enemies … Taqi ad-Din Ibn Taymiyyah.”
Then As-Suyuti follows this up by saying, “I have quoted this biography from the handwriting of the Allamah, the unique individual of his time,Shaykh Kamal ad-Din az-Zamlakani, may Allah have mercy on him, who used to say, ‘one who had more memorised than him has not been seen in the last five hundred years.’ “ [‘Al-Ashbah wa’n-Nadha’ir an-Nahwiyyah‘ (3/681), see also ‘Dhayl ala Tabaqat al-Hanabila‘ (2/392-393)]
As-Suyuti said in the course of discussing his biography, “Shaykh ul-Islam, the Hafidh, the Faqih, the Mujtahid, the distinguished Mufassir, the rarity of his time, Scholar of the Ascetics.” [‘Tabaqat al-Huffadh‘ (p. 516 no. 1144), and ‘Al-Asbah wa’n-Nadha’ir‘ (3/683) of As-Suyuti]
We could mention many more scholars who praised him but insha’Allahwhat we have quoted above is sufficient to paint a more just and true picture of this Imam. As for those scholars that applied the title ‘Shaykh ul-Islam‘ to him then they are numerous and would require a separate volume to list them [As has been done by some scholars, from amongst them Ibn Nasir ad-Din in the aforementioned book ‘Ar-Radd al-Wafir‘].
The Accusations Against Him
From what has preceded it is clear that Shaykh ul-Islam had many enemies, and many jealous rivalries who plotted against him together to try to make out that he was an innovator. So we advise anyone who wishes to criticise the Shaykh that he must make sure that his criticisms are based firmly upon the written works of Ibn Taymiyyah, not merely upon the words of other than him, as done by his opponents.
What follows is an investigation of the points of belief that Ibn Taymiyyah was accused of having deviances in. We have left out the various legal positions he had for which he was attacked for due to their relative unimportance.
On the works of Taqi ad-Din Subki and his son Taj ad-Din Subki
Much of what is written against Ibn Taymiyyah are based upon the works of these two scholars. ‘Rasa’il as-Subkiyyah‘ of Shaykh Taqi ad-Din and the various biographical works of Taj ad-Din for example ‘Tabaqat ash-Shafi’iyyah‘.
As for the works of Taqi ad-Din then Adh-Dhahabi wrote to him, censuring him for what he had written, and his erroneous claims, to which As-Subki replied saying, “As for what you say with regard to Ash-Shaykh Taqi ad-Din, then I am convinced of the great scope, the ocean-like fullness and vastness of his knowledge of the transmitted and intellectual sciences, his extreme intelligence, his ijtihad and his attainments in that which surpass description. And I have always held to this opinion. Personally, his status in my eyes is greater and more esteemed, for the asceticism, piety, religiosity, his helping the truth and standing firm on it for the sake of Allah alone, his adherence to the path of the salaf and his abundant taking from it, and his strangeness in this time, nay any time.” [‘Ad-Durar al-Kamina‘ of Ibn Hajar under the biography of Ibn Taymiyyah (1/159) and ‘Dhayl Tabaqat al-Hanabilah‘ (2/392) of Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali]
As for his son, Taj ad-Din, then unfortunately, he went to extremes in criticising Ibn Taymiyyah, due to his highly partisan and sectarian attitude. Such that As-Sakhawi endorsed the following words about him, following his statement, “Did any of the Hanbalis raise their heads (i.e. become prominent)”:
“This is from the strangest of things, and the most sectarian/partisan of attitudes, and this is why the Qadhi of our time, and Shaykh of the madhhab Al-Izz al-Kanani wrote under this statement, ‘and likewise Allah did not raise the heads of theMu’attila‘ and then he said about Taj ad-Din Subki, ‘he is a man having little manners, lack of scholarly integrity, ignorant of Ahlus-Sunnah and their ranks.’ “ [‘Al-I’lan bi’t-Tawbikh liman Dhamma at-Tarikh‘ (94-95) of As-Sakhawi]
A glimpse of his attacks can be seen in ‘Albani Unveiled‘ (pp. 114-116) and in what follows the truth of the above criticism will become clear, and a more severe and devastating reality will become apparent, and that is the amount of lies that are heaped around the pillars of Ahlus-Sunnah in all ages by individuals that claim to be supporting the truth.
On the book ‘Nasihah adh-Dhahabiyyah’
A book ascribed to Adh-Dhahabi in which he launches a severe attack on Ibn Taymiyyah, but in reality was not written by him, but falsely ascribed to him, this due to many reasons:
- No one who is familiar with the works of Adh-Dhahabi mentioned this as one of his works.
- Adh-Dhahabi remained the student of Ibn Taymiyyah until the latters death.
- All of the sayings of Adh-Dhahabi in the books that are affirmed to be from him, to do with Ibn Taymiyyah, revolve around praise and respect of him. (A glimpse of these has preceded).
- This letter is written in the handwriting of Ibn Qadhi ash-Shuhba, an enemy of Ibn Taymiyyah.
- We have not seen one who ascribes this book to Adh-Dhahabi after Qadhi ash-Shuhba except for his contemporary, Al-Hafidh As-Sakhawi, may Allah have mercy on him, who merely followed him. [From the book, ‘At-Tawdih al-Jali fi ar-Radd ala Nasiha Adh-Dhahabiyyah al-Manhula ala’l-Imam Adh-Dhahabi‘ (pp. 85-86) byShaykh Muhammad ibn Ibrahim ash-Shaybani, with summary]
The Accusation that Ibn Taymiyyah held Allah to be a body, of composite parts having organs
Amongst those contemporary, and recent writers who accused Shaykh ul-Islam of this are: Al-Habashi al-Hurari, As-Saqqaf and his mentor Zahid al-Kawthari. In fact all the attacks that are about to be raised will find their origins with one, or all of the three personalities mentioned above, from the writers of recent and contemporary times.
As-Saqqaf says, after previously quoting An-Nawawi’s ruling of unbelief on the one who ascribes to Allah a jism (body):
“Entering into this category is Al-Harrani (i.e. Ibn Taymiyyah),who has affirmed tajsim (Allah having a body) in many of his books. So from this is his saying in ‘At-Ta’sis‘ (1/101): ‘and there is not in the Book of Allah, nor in the Sunnah of His Messenger, nor a statement from any of the Salaf of this Ummah and it’s Imams that He is not ajism, and that His Attributes are not bodily, consisting of organs.’ I say: By Allah who originated the heavens and the Earth – your saying is ignorance and misguidance. Is not Allah – the Most High’s– saying, ‘there is nothing like Him’ sufficient in negating tajsimand it’s reality, O Al-Harrani?!! And what about the Imams of theUmmah and the Salaf – O Al-Harrani – and their censure of tashbih.”[‘Daf Shubah at-Tashbih‘ (pp. 245-246) with it’ s footnotes by Saqqaf]
Shaykh Mashur Salman said in reply to this, “These words are from one who does not know what fairness is, who acts haphazardly in his rulings, and who falsely accuses the scholars of wickedness. This becomes apparent in a number of ways:
“From them: that the previously stated words are not from the writings of Ibn Taymiyyah in which he is clarifying his own views, or even stating them. Rather he is quoting the saying of the People ofKalam (innovated speech and rhetorics). However As-Saqqaf has conveniently omitted the beginning of the quotation from Shaykh ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah, where he clearly stated: Qalu (they said)!!
“From them: that Saqqaf overlooks the words of Shaykh ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah – may Allah have mercy upon him – concerning the overall usage of this term in reference to Allah – the Mighty and Majestic – and he halted where he halted upon with knowledge. However justice is very rare – and there is no movement and power except with Allah.
“Shaykh ul-Islam said, in the course of this topic, ‘indeed the term al-jism (body), al-arad (organs), al-mutahayyiz (extent) are newly invented terminoligies. We have mentioned many a time before that the Salaf and the Imams have not spoken about such things – neither by way of negation, nor by way of affirmation. Rather they declared those who spoke about such matter to be innovators, and went to great lengths to censure them.’
“This is what has repeatedly been affirmed by Shaykh ul-Islam –may Allah have mercy on him – in many of his books, such as: ‘Sharh Hadith an-Nuzul‘ (pp. 69-76), ‘Majmu’ al-Fatawa‘ (3/306-310, 13/304-305), ‘Minhaj as-Sunnah an-Nabawiyyah‘ (2/134-135, 192, 198-200, 527). Indeed in ‘Sharh Hadith an-Nuzul‘ Shaykh ul-Islam has labelled ascribing Allah with the term jism, by saying, ‘an innovation in the Shari’ah, a corruption of the language, and a contradiction to the [sound] intellect. Rather it is repudiated by the Shari’ah, the language and the [sound] intellect.’
“And from them: Shaykh ul-Islam mentions the intended meaning of ascribing Allah with the term jism, by saying: ‘whosoever alleges that the Lord is a jism – with the meaning that he accepts division, separation and partition (for Allah) – then he is the most disbelieving of people and the most ignorant. Indeed, his statement is more evil than the one who says that Allah has a son – with them meaning that a part of Him split and thus became His son.’ “ [‘Al-Asalah‘ magazine (no. 4 pp. 54-55), see also his ‘Rudud wa’t-Ta’qubat‘ (pp. 21-23)]
And at this point we quote from a writer of the own ranks of the accusers: Dr. Sa’id Ramadhan al-Buti who says, “And we are amazed when we see the extremists declaring Ibn Taymiyyah, may Allah have mercy upon him, of being an unbeliever. And also at them saying that he was one who held Allah to be a body (mujassid), and I have studied long and hard as to where I could find a statement or a word from Ibn Taymiyyah that he wrote or said which would indicate his holding Allah to be a body as was quoted from him by As-Subki and others [This is a clear indication from Al-Buti of the injustice done against Ibn Taymiyyah by the likes of As-Subki and others], and I have not found anything from him like this. All I found was him saying in his legal rulings, ‘Indeed Allah has a Hand as He said, and has risen over the Throne as He said, and He has an Eye as He said.’ “
And he adds to this, “I referred to the last work written by Abu’l-Hasan al-Ash’ari, ‘Al-Ibanah‘, and I found him saying exactly what Ibn Taymiyyah said [on the issue of the Names and Attributes of Allah].” [‘Nadwa Ittjahat al-Fiqr al-Islami‘ (pp. 264-265) of Al-Buti]
The Claims of Ibn Battuta
Amongst the contemporaries of Ibn Taymiyyah who accused him oftajsim was the travelling historian, Ibn Battuta who said, “I was present in Damascus on Friday where he (Ibn Taymiyyah) was admonishing and reminding the people from the minbar (pulpit) of the congregational mosque. During his speech he said: Indeed Allah descends to the lowest heaven of the world just as I am descending now. He then descended one step of the minbar.” [‘Ar-Rihlah‘ (1/110) of Ibn Battuta]
The falsehood of this can be seen from many angles:
- This contradicts the madhhab of Ibn Taymiyyah concerning the Attributes of Allah – the Most High – which was the same as themadhhab of the Salaf, being built upon the saying of Allah, “There is nothing like Him, He is the Hearing and the Seeing.”
- Ibn Taymiyyah says in ‘At-Tadmuriyyah‘ (p. 20), “It is a must to affirm that which Allah affirms for himself, whilst negating any likeness to Him with His creation. Whosoever says: His Knowledge is like my knowledge, His Power is like my power, or Love like my love, or Pleasure like my pleasure, or Hand like my hand, or Ascending like my ascending, or His Nuzul (descent) is like my descent – then he has resembled and likened Allah to the creation. Rather it is a must to affirm (Allah’s Attributes) without resemblance, and to negate (what Allah negates for Himself), without ta’til (divesting Allah of His Attributes).”
- Likewise he said in ‘Majmu’ al-Fatawa‘ (5/262), “whosoever considers the Attributes to be like the attributes of the creation – such that Istawa of Allah is like the ascending of the creation, or His Nuzool is like the descending of the creation, or other than that – then he is a deviated innovator.” And he repeats this principle over and over again in his works.
- It is not possible that Ibn Battuta witnessed Ibn Taymiyyah deliver this speech, since Ibn Battuta clearly states in his ‘Rihla‘ (1/102) that he entered Damascus on the 9th of Ramadhan in the year 728H. However Shaykh ul-Islam was – before, during and after that time – in prison. Ibn Kathir states in ‘Al-Bidayah wa’n-Nihayah‘ (14/135) that Ibn Taymiyyah was imprisoned on the 6th of Sha’ban in the year 728H and remained there until his death on the 20th of Dhul-Qa’dah 728H [These dates are endorsed in ‘Al-A’lam al-Uliyyah‘ (pg.84) of Al-Bazzar, and ‘Sahdharat adh-Dhahab‘ (6/80) of Ibn al-Amad]
- Ibn Battuta, may Allah have mercy upon him, did not write the book ‘Rihla‘ with his own hand, rather it was collected by Muhammad ibn Jazi al-Kalbi who writes in the introduction to ‘Rihla‘, “and I have quoted the meaning of the words of Shaykh Abu ‘Abdullah (Ibn Battuta) with words that give the meaning that he intended … “
- Ibn Battuta started his journey on the 2nd of Rajab 725H and completed it on the 3rd of Dhul-Hijjah 756H and he did not write anything down, rather after this journey he dictated to Al-Kalbi the events of his journey from memory. Hence the door is open for mistakes, and it is highly likely that Ibn Battuta did not witness what he claimed to have witnessed, but merely conveyed the accusations that were in vogue at that time against Shaykh ul-Islamfrom his enemies.
- Ibn Battuta himself was opposed to Ibn Taymiyyah, for he states in ‘Rihla‘ (1/309), “and from the great Hanbali Legal Jurists of Damascus was Ibn Taymiyyah, except that he was lacking in his intellect.” Hence it would have been easy for him to take on board the accusations without verifying them.
- Ibn Taymiyyah has a separate book concerning Allah’s Descending called, ‘Sharh Hadith an-Nuzul‘. In it is no trace whatsoever of the anthropomorphic beliefs that he has been falsely accused of.
- Ibn Taymiyyah was not the khatib of the aforementioned masjid, rather it was Qadhi Al-Qazwayni. Ibn Battuta himself says in his ‘Rihla‘ (1/107), “and at the time of my entering it (Damascus) theirImam was Qadhi Jalal ad-Din Muhammad ibn ‘Abdur-Rahman al-Qazwayni from the great legal jurists, and he was the khatib of themasjid … “
- Ibn Taymiyyah did not used to give admonitions and reminders to the people from the minbar, rather he used to sit upon a chair. Al-Hafidh Adh-Dhahabi said, “and he became very famous and well-known, and he started giving tafsir of the Mighty Book from his memory, on the days of Jumu’ah, sitting upon a chair.” And Ibn Battuta states in his ‘Rihla‘ (1/108), “it was the habit of the scholars ofhadith to read books of hadith on a raised chair.” And a raised chair in the Arabic language is called, ‘minbar‘. [‘Lisan al-Arab‘ (5/189)] This is why Ibn Hajar mentioned in his ‘Durar al-Kaminah‘, “and he used to speak on the minbar in the way of the explainers of fiqh andhadith, and he used to mention in an hour, what another was unable to mention in many sittings, as if the sciences were displayed in front of his eyes.” Meaning by this that he sat on a chair as done by the scholars of hadith.
[The above discussion is taken from ‘Min Mashahir al-Mujaddidayn‘ (pp. 27-29) of Shaykh Salih al-Fawzan, and ‘Ibn Taymiyyah al-Muftara alayhi‘ (pp 50-60) of Shaykh Salim al-Hilali. Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani also mentioned in ‘Durar al-Kaminah‘ (p. 154) quoting from At-Tufi that, “and they mentioned that he mentioned the hadith of Descent and he descended two steps of the minbar and he said, ‘Like this descending of mine’ so he was imputed with tajsim (fa nusiba ila’t-tajsim).” This statement is by no means an evidence against Ibn Taymiyyah as it only states ‘they mentioned’ mentioning no eye witnesses, And in fact it only confirms, along with all that has preceded, that these were lies being spread against Ibn Taymiyyah. This is the reason that At-Tufi only said,“he was imputed with tajsim“ using uncertain phraseology.]
So with the above it is clear that the account of Ibn Battuta cannot be depended upon due to his obvious confusion and the lack of coherency of his account, and due to it’s clear contradiction to the written words of Ibn Taymiyyah.
And with this the gross exaggeration of Taj ad-Din Subki can also be discerned, where he said, “none of them (scholars) denied that he had said, ‘Allah had directions and is a composition of particles coming together.’ “ [See ‘Albani Unveiled‘ (p. 116)]
The Accusation that Ibn Taymiyyah held Allah to be subject to direction (jihha)
Nowhere in the works of Ibn Taymiyyah has he used the word jihha in describing Allah. Rather the basis of this accusation arises from his following our Salaf and clearly stating that Allah is outside of His creation, above the heavens, over His Throne. When reading this, the misguided philosophers (mutakallimin) argued that this position of Ibn Taymiyyah necessitated that Allah have a direction.
The Position of the Salaf as to Allah being distinct from creation
Know that the verses of the Qur’an on this issue, clear and unequivocal in their meaning, run into hundreds, and likewise the ahadith, that Allah is above His creation and over His Throne. These are well known so we will suffice here with stating the position of the Salaf on this issue as it is they who understood the Qur’an and Sunnah the best. Below is a translation of some points from ‘Khalq Af’al al-Ibad‘ of Imam Bukhari, pp. 13+. All narrations quoted are authentic insha’Allah according to thetakhrij done of the works quoted. The narrators are mainly Tabi’i and those that came immediately after.
- Wahb ibn Jarir said, “The Jahmiyyah are heretics, they think that He has not risen over His Throne.”
- Ibn al-Mubarak said, “We do not say as the Jahmiyyah say that Allah is on the earth, rather He has risen over His Throne.”
- And it was said to him, ‘How should we know our Lord?’ He said,“Above the Heavens, over/upon (‘ala) His Throne.”
- Sufyan ath-Thawri was asked about the verse, “And He is with you wheresoever you are.” He said, “His Knowledge.”
- Sadqa said, ‘I heard Sulayman at-Taymi saying, “If I were asked, ‘Where is Allah?’ I would say, ‘Above (fi) the heaven.’ And if it was said, ‘Where was the Throne before the Heaven?’ I would say, ‘Over the water.’ And if it is said, ‘Where was the Throne before the water?’ I would say, ‘I do not know.’ “
- And Imam Al-Bukhari said, ‘and that (i.e. his answer) was because of the saying of Allah, “and they cannot encompass anything of His Knowledge except what He wills.” i.e. except what He explains.’
[This shows that the question ‘Where is Allah’ was considered allowed by the Salaf, and how could it be otherwise when the Prophet himself asked the slave girl, “Where is Allah?” as is established firmly in the sahih ofImam Muslim. So do not be misguided by the neo-Jahmiyyah of today, Saqqaf and al-Habbashi and their likes who try to declare the abovehadith of Muslim as weak, and make out that the above question is abid’ah, having only the classical Jahmiyyah as their precedents.]
- Muhammad ibn Yusuf said (one of the teachers of Bukhari), “The one who says that Allah is not over (‘ala) His Throne is a kafir. And the one who thinks that Allah did not speak to Moses is a kafir.”
- Ibn Mas’ud said about His saying, “Then He rose over His Throne”, –“The Throne is over the water, Allah is above (fawqa) the Throne and He knows what you are upon.”
- Qatada said about His saying, “and He is Allah in the Heaven and in the Earth” – “The One Who is worshipped in the heaven and in the earth.”
Below are further points translated from ‘Sharh Usul I’tiqad Ahlus-Sunnah‘ of Al-Lalika’i (d.414H, pp. 396+):
- ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas said, “Verily Allah was above His Throne before He created anything, then He created the creation and decreed what was to exist until the Day of Judgement.”
- Bashr ibn ‘Umar said, “I heard more then one of the Mufassir say about the verse, ‘The Most Merciful istawa upon the Throne’–istawa means rose above.”
- Rabi’ (one of the teachers of Malik) was asked about the verse, “The Most Merciful rose over His Throne” – “How did He rise?” He replied, “Al-Istawa (rising) is known, and the how is not comprehensible, and from Allah is the message, and upon the Messenger is the preaching, and upon us is believing.”
- Maqatil ibn Hayan said about His saying, “And there is no secret discourse of 3 people except He is the fourth, or of 5 people and He is the sixth” – “He is above His Throne, and nothing is hidden from His knowledge.”
- Imam Ahmad was asked, “Allah is above the seventh heaven, above His Throne, distinct from his creation, and His Power and Knowledge are in every place?” He replied, “Yes, above the Throne and His Knowledge is in every place.”
- Imam Ahmad was asked about the verse, “And He is with you wheresoever you are”, and the verse, “There is no secret discourse of 3 people except that he is the fourth.” – He replied, “(Meaning) His Knowledge, He is the Knower of the seen and the unseen, His Knowledge encompasses everything, and our Lord is above the Throne without setting limits and giving description, and His Kursiis as the expanse of the heavens and the earth with His Knowledge.”
Imam Awza’i said, “We used to say, while the Tabi’in were many, ‘Indeed Allah is above His Throne, and we believe in what occurs in the Sunnahto do with His Attributes.’ “ [Related by Al-Bayhaqi in ‘Asma wa’s-Sifat‘ (p. 408) and Ibn Hajar declared it’s chain of narration to be good as in ‘Fath al-Bari‘ (13/406)]
Imam ‘Abdullah ibn Ahmad quoted ‘Abdullah ibn Mubarak as saying, ” … I bear witness that You are above Your Throne above the seven heavens and this is not as the enemies of Allah say, the heretics.” [‘Sharh as-Sunnah‘ of Imam ‘Abdullah]
He also quoted ‘Abdullah ibn Mubarak as saying, “We know that our Lord is above the seven heavens over the Throne, and we do not say as theJahmiyyah say that He is here,” pointing with his hand to the earth. [ibid]
Abu Hanifah said, when asked of his opinion of the one who says, “I do not know whether Allah is in the heavens or on the earth”:
“He has disbelieved, because Allah says, ‘The Most Merciful rose above the Throne’, and His Throne is above His seven heavens.’
He was then asked, “What if he said that Allah is above His Throne but he does not know whether the Throne is in the heavens or on the earth?” He said, “He has disbelieved, because He has denied that He is above the heavens and whosoever denied that He is above the heavens has disbelieved.” [‘Al-Uluww‘ of Adh-Dhahabi, also ‘Sharh ‘Aqidah at-Tahawiyyah‘ of Ibn Abi al-Izz al-Hanafi]
Ibn Khuzaymah (the Imam of the muhaddithin of his time) said,“Whosoever does not affirm that Allah is above His heavens, over/upon (‘ala) His Throne and He is distinct from His creation, must be forced to repent. If he does not repent then he must be beheaded and thrown in the garbage dump so that the Muslims and dhimmi (Jews and Christians living under the Islamic State) would not suffer from his stinking smell.”[‘At-Tawhid‘ of Ibn Khuzaymah, also quoted by Al-Hakim in ‘Al-Ma’rifah‘]
Imam Abu’l-Hasan al-Ash’ari (d.290H) in ‘Al-Ibanah‘ brings a whole chapter on ‘Istawa‘ (Allah Rising over His Throne), in the course of his discussion he said, ” … and some people say, from the Mu’tazila andJahmiyyah and Hururiyya, about the saying of Allah, ‘The Most Merciful rose upon His Throne’, that he istawla (conquered), Milak (owned), Qahr(dominated), and that Allah is in every place, and they denied Allah being above His Throne, as the People of Truth say … ” [‘Al-Ibanah‘ (p. 120+) containing an excellent refutation of the above claim. This also refutes clearly what Abu Mansur al-Baghdadi states in his ‘Farq bayna’l-Firaq‘ that, “The majority go the way of saying that the meaning of Istawais establishing dominance (al-qahr) and victory (al-ghalaba), that is, the Merciful vanquished the Throne (al-rahmanu ghalaba al-‘arsh) and overcame it (wa qaharahu). He mentioned the Throne specifically because it is the greatest of created things (a’dhamu al-makhluqat).” It should be said to him, “Establish the throne and then sit on it, what majority? When the totality of the Salaf held that Istawa meant that Allah has risen over His Throne. Not only that but the very Imam that Abu Mansur claims to follow, Al-Ash’ari refutes his very claim as being misguidance!]
The quotes on this run into the hundreds from the salaf, and the books written on this by the early scholars of Islam are many but we do not wish to lengthen the discussion beyond what is necessary.
So we say to those that accuse Ibn Taymiyyah of giving Allah a direction, because of this belief of his: Your accusation necessitates that all of the above Salaf also held Allah to have a jiha, including the two great Companions, Ibn Mas’ud and Ibn Abbas. So if you were to declare Ibn Taymiyyah as misguided due to this, then you must do the same with the Salaf. We seek refuge with Allah from such misguidance!
Ibn Taymiyyah said:
“And when it became established in the souls of the addressees (of the revelation) that Allah is the Highest of the High, and the He is Above everything, the understanding of His saying, “Indeed He is (fi) the Heaven” became that He was High and Above everything. Likewise the slave girl when it was said to her, “Where is Allah?” she said, “(fi) the Heaven,” meaning above, without designating for Him a created body or His being contained in His Creation … Furthermore whosoever thinks that Allah being (fi) the Heaven means that the Heaven surrounds or encloses Him, then he is a liar if he is quoting someone else or misguided if He believes this with respect to His Lord. We have not heard anyone understand this from this word (fi) just as we have not seen anyone quote this from anyone else.” [‘Bayan Talbees al-Jahmiyyah’ (1/559) of Ibn Taymiyyah]
He said in ‘Dar at-Ta’arud‘ (1/253), “So when the Creator, the Exalted, is separate and distinct from the creation, high above it, and there is nothing in existence save the Creator and created, then there is nothing that exists alongside Him which is besides Him, let alone that He – Subhanahu – should be in some existing thing which surrounds and encompasses Him.”
Ibn Taymiyyah said:
“The people fall into three groups over the convention of the use of the word jiha. A group that negates it, another that affirms it, and a third that explains the issue. This difference is present amongst the followers of the Four Imams who affirmed the Attributes of Allah and the difference of the Ahlul-Hadith and Sunnah, specifically, over this is a difference in wording, not in meaning. This is why a group from the Companions of Ahmad – like the Tamimiyyin and Al-Qadhi in one of his two sayings – negated it yet another, larger group, affirmed it – and this is the last saying of Al-Qadhi. This is because the word jiha could be used to refer to that which is subject to time and space (wujud) or that which is not (ma’dum) and it is known that there is nothing present except for the Creator and creation.
“So if the word jiha is used to refer to something that exists other than Allah then it refers to something created by Allah and Allah is not encompassed or confined by any of his creation. If the word is used to refer to something outside time and space, i.e. above the creation, then there is nothing there except Allah.” [‘Minhaj as-Sunnah‘ (1/216) of Ibn Taymiyyah]
So it is clear with all of this that Ibn Taymiyyah did not believe Allah to be subject to any of the created direction, nor did he believe Allah to be surrounded in any way by His creation.
The Accusation that Ibn Taymiyyah held Allah to be subject to limitation (hadd)
The innovators looked into the works of Ibn Taymiyyah and saw him mentioning the word hadd with respect to Allah and immediately assumed that he held Allah to be subject to limitation and without and further research declared him as a deviant or kafir. The error of this accusation will become clear, by the Permission of Allah.
The basis of this accusation lies with the authentic saying related from ‘Abdullah ibn al-Mubarak as is related in ‘Tabaqat al-Hanabila‘ (1/267), “I said to Ahmad: it is reported from Ibn al-Mubarak that it was asked him, ‘How should we know our Lord?’ to which he replied, ‘Over (fi) the Seventh Heaven, over His Throne with hadd.’ So Imam Ahmad said: ‘This is how we believe it.’ “ [Related by Ad-Darimi in ‘Radd ala Marisi‘ (p. 34), ‘Abdullah ibn Ahmad in ‘As-Sunnah‘ (1/175), Al-Bayhaqi in ‘Asma wa’s-Sifat‘ (p. 467). Imam Adh-Dhahabee said in ‘Al-Uluww‘ (p. 152 – of themukhtasar), “This is sahih, established from Ibn al-Mubarak and Ahmad,may Allah be pleased with them.” Ibn Taymiyyah said in ‘Al-Hamawiyyah‘ (5/184 – of Majmu al-Fatawa), “This is famous and established from Ibn al-Mubarak via many routes, and it is also established from Ahmad ibn Hanbal, and Ishaq ibn Rahawayyah and other Imams.” See also ‘Sharh ‘Aqidah at-Tahawiyyah‘ (p. 240). See also the refutation of Al-Kawthari’s feeble attempts to declare this narrationda’if in ‘Daf’ Shubah al-Ghawiyyah‘ (pp. 73-74) of Shaykh Murad Shukri]
But was the meaning of the Imams in saying this? Was it establishing limits for Allah with the meaning of the walls of a house setting its limits, or something else? Or does Allah have an Attribute of hadd? What is the reconciliation between this narration from Imam Ahmad and the previous one mentioned above (no. 675)?
Ibn Taymiyyah says:
“These words that he mentioned would be applicable if they had said that He has an Attribute and it is hadd, as suggested by this person who tries to refute them. This has not been said by anyone and neither would any intelligent person say this, for this statement has no reality to it due to their not existing a single Attribute from the Attributes that He is described with, such as Hand and Knowledge, that has been specified as hadd. All that is meant here is what distinguishes something from something else with regards to its description and measure as is well known of the word hadd when dealing with the clearly defined things. For example it is said: the hadd of man, meaning those characteristics that distinguish him as being a man.” [‘Talbis al-Jahmiyyah‘ (1/442) of Ibn Taymiyyah]
So historically when the Jahmiyyah, denied the Attributes of Allah, and denied his being above His Throne, rather they said He is everywhere, some of the Salaf replied to this by saying that indeed Allah has a haddwith the meaning: that which distinguishes Him from anything else, in that He has Risen over His Throne and is distinct from creation. Ibn Taymiyyah said:
“So when the Jahmiyyah said: Indeed the Creator is not distinguished from the creation, and they denied the Attributes which distinguish Him, and they denied His Power (qadr), to the extent that the Mu’tazila said, when we acknowledge that He is Living, Knowing and all-Powerful (only), then we have come to know His reality. They say: indeed He is not distinct from other than Him. Rather they depict Him, either with negative descriptions such as: He is not in the world, nor out of the world, and not this and not that, or they make Him to be encompassed by the creation.
“So ‘Abdullah ibn al-Mubarak made clear that the Lord is over His Throne, distinct from the creation, and he mentiond hadd because the Jahmiyyah used to say: He does not have a hadd, and whatsoever does not have a hadd cannot be distinct from creation, and cannot be above the creation because that would necessitate ahadd. So when the Amir al-Mu’minin ‘Abdullah ibn al-Mubarak was asked: ‘How should we know Him?’ He said, ‘Above His Heavens, over His Throne, distinct from His creation.’ So they said, ‘This implies that which the Jahmiyyah negate, and with this negation of theirs they negate the fact that He is present over the Throne, distinct from creation.’ So they asked him, ‘With hadd?’ And he replied ‘With hadd.’
So this is what is understood by anyone who understands what was between the sayings of the believers of Ahlus-Sunnah wa’l-Jama’ahand the Jahmiyyah.” [ibid (1/443)]
Then Ibn Taymiyyah discusses the statements of those from the salafwho negated the usage of the word hadd, and those who used it, and explains that in reality both groups were saying the same thing, and the difference was merely one of wording not of meaning:
“If the understood meaning of this word is that Allah is in any way enclosed by His creation, then Allah is Greater and more Mighty, rather His Kursi is as the expanse of the Heavens and the earth.and if what is meant by this word is that he is distinct from His creation, then He is as the Imams of Ahlus-Sunnah said about Him: over His Heavens, above His Throne, distinct from creation.” [‘At-Tadmuriyyah‘ (p. 46)of Ibn Taymiyyah, see also for further detail, ‘Talbis al-Jahmiyyah‘ (2/163)]
So after all this, it becomes clear that Ibn Taymiyyah did not hold Allah to be subject to limitation, and it becomes clear that the word hadd was used by some of the Salaf with the meaning: distinguishing characteristics, when it became necessary to do so to refute the various deviant groups at that time.
The Accusation that Ibn Taymiyyah held Allah subject to movement (harakah)
The basis of this accusation is that, like the Salaf, Ibn Taymiyyah believed that Allah descends to the Lowest Heaven in the last third of the night, and that He has the Attribute of Coming (Maji’). So the opponents adduced against him that he held Allah to move from one place to another, and this resembles Allah to His creation.
A glimpse at the belief of the Salaf to do with Descent:
Imam al-Ajurri (d. 360H) says in his exposition on ‘aqidah, under the chapter ‘to have faith and trust that Allah descends to the lowest heaven every night.’
“Faith in this is obligatory, and it is not allowed for the intelligent Muslim to say, ‘how does he descend?’ – and none would answer this except the Mu’tazila. [For example the saying of some, that His command descends, and the saying of others that His angels descend etc] As for the people of truth, then they say, ‘faith in this is obligatory without asking how. Because the narrations are authentic to the Messenger – that Allah descends to the lowest heaven every night – and the ones who transmitted this narration to us are the ones that transmitted the rules of the lawful and prohibited, the knowledge of salah, zakah, fasting, hajj, and jihad. So just as the scholars accepted these from them then like this they accepted from them these Sunan. They said, ‘the one who opposed these is horribly misguided’ – warning him and warning against him.” [‘Ash-Shari’ah‘ (p. 272)]
Then he goes on to mention the ahadith that occur on this subject.
The great hadith master, Ibn Khuzaymah brings a chapter heading in his work ‘At-Tawhid‘, “mentioning the narrations of Descent,” in which he mentions many ahadith to do with this Attribute.
Al-Lalika’i (d. 414H) brings a chapter heading in his encyclopaedic work on ‘aqidah – Sharh Usul I’tiqad – , “what is related about the Descent of the Lord, Blessed and Exalted, is He”
He states that the ahadith that Allah descends to the lowest heaven have been reported by twenty companions and then …
- Fudayl ibn Ayad (Tabi’i) said, “When you hear the Jahmi say, ‘I disbelieve in a Lord Who descends’ – say – ‘I believe in a Lord Who does what He wills’ “
- Yahya ibn Ma’in said, “When you hear the Jahmi say, ‘I disbelieve in a Lord Who descends’, then say, ‘I believe in a Lord Who does what He desires.’ “
- Imam Ahmad said, “He descends as He wills, according to His Knowledge and Power and Greatness. He encompasses everything with His Knowledge.”
Similar narrations occur in Khalq Af’al al-Ibad of Imam al-Bukhari and ‘Ghunya at-Talibin‘ of ‘Abdul-Qadir Jilani.
Imam ‘Abdullah ibn Ahmad narrates in his work ‘As-Sunnah‘:
“After mentioning the hadith of Descent the people said to Sharik, ‘Verily there are a people who reject these ahadith.’ He said, ‘What do they say?’ They said, ‘They abuse these ahadith.’ He replied, ‘Those who brought (i.e. Companions) these ahadith, are those who brought the Qur’an, and that the prayers are five, and the Hajj to the House, and the fast of Ramadhan. And we do not know Allah except by these ahadith.’
“Abad ibn al-Awam said, Sharik ibn ‘Abdullah came to us about fifty years ago. He said (Abad), ‘I said, ‘O Abu Abdalah, verily there is a people with us from the Mu’tazila who reject these ahadith.’ He said, ‘So he narrated to me about ten ahadith to do with this (i.e. the Descent of Allah) and said, ‘As for us we take our religion from thetabi’in from the companions of the Messenger, from where do they take theirs?’ “
“Abu’l-Hasan al-Ash’ari (d. 294H) said, “And we believe in all the narrations that the People of Transmission have established about the Descent to the lowest heaven and that the Lord says, ‘Is there one who is asking? Is there one who is seeking forgiveness?’ And in the generality of what they transmit and establish, at odds to what the people of deviancy and misguidance say.” [‘Al-Ibanah‘ (p. 60) of Abu’l-Hasan al-Ash’ari]
He also said, “And we believe in the ahadith that have come from the Messenger that Allah descends to the lowest Heaven and says, ‘Is there one who is seeking forgiveness?’ “ [‘Al-Maqalat‘ (p. 224) of Abu’l-Hasan al-Ash’ari]
So we say yet again, if by Ibn Taymiyyah’s affirmation of this Attribute, that Allah indeed Descends to the lowest heaven as befits His Majesty, is misguidance then so are all of the above scholars, and in fact Ahlus-Sunnah itself misguided! And so is the very Imam that the accusers claim to follow misguided, Abu’l-Hasan al-Ash’ari!
Ibn Taymiyyah says, while discussing the use of the word ‘harakah‘:
“Like Harb al-Kirmani, and ‘Uthman ibn Sa’id ad-Darimi and others. Indeed these clearly used the word harakah and they made clear that this was the madhhab of the Imams of Ahlus-Sunnah andHadith from the early and the later.
“Harb al-Kirmani mentioned that this was the saying of the Imams of Ahlus-Sunnah that he had met, like Ahmad ibn Hanbal, and Ishaq ibn Rahawiyyah, and ‘Abdullah ibn Zubayr al-Humaydi and Sa’id ibn Mansur.
“Sa’id bin Mansur and others said: Indeed harakah (movement) is from the necessary qualities of life and every living thing moves. They made out that denying this was from the saying of theJahmiyyah upon whom Ahlus-Sunnah are agreed with respect to their misguidance and innovation.
“Another group from the Salaf, like Nu’aym ibn Hammad al-Khaza’i, and Bukhari the author of the ‘Sahih‘, and Abu Bakr ibn Khuzaymah, and others like Abu ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul-Barr, affirmed the meaning of what they (the first group) affirmed but they named it Actions (of Allah). From these were those that forbade the use of the wordharakah due to its not being narrated.” [‘Dar at-Ta’arud‘ (7/2)]
“The word harakah was affirmed by a group from Ahlus-Sunnah andHadith and this is what was mentioned by Harb ibn Isma’il al-Kirmani in his ‘Sunnah‘ which he relates from a group of Imams that he met like Al-Humaydi and Ahmad ibn Hanbal …
“Some groups of Ahlus-Sunnah negated the usage of the wordharakah like Abu’l-Hasan at-Taymi and Abu Sulayman al-Khattabi …
“What is narrated from Imam Ahmad is the rejection of the one that negates movement but neither is the usage of the word harakahestablished from him, even though he may have affirmed some types (of Attributes and Actions) that the affirmer (of the wordharakah) would have placed within the ranks of the word harakah. For when he heard someone narrating the hadith of Descent and saying, ‘He Descends without movement and transmission, and without change.’ So Imam Ahmad rejected this and said, ‘Say as the Messenger said, for he was more shy of His Lord than you.’ “ [‘Al-Istiqamah‘ (1/70)]
So from this we learn that:
- From the salaf were those who negated the usage of the wordharakah because it did not occur in the Qur’an and Sunnah when describing Allah, but they affirmed the Attributes of Descent, Coming etc.
- From the salaf were those who affirmed the word harakah meaning that Allah Comes, and Descends etc. and it is not like the movement of the Creation but rather as it befits His Majesty.
- Shaykh ul-Islam quotes the two sayings stating that in meaning that they are the same and that there is no resembling Allah to His creation in this. He himself only affirms the Attributes of Allaah without adding anything further.
- Finally Ibn Taymiyyah belonged to the first group above. So with all of this, the fourth accusation is cleared and all praise is due to Allah.
The Accusation that Ibn Taymiyyah held the Hellfire to come to an end
Another accusation by which the opponents declared Ibn Taymiyyah to be misguided due to his contradicting the ‘consensus’ on this issue. Yet nowhere in the works of Ibn Taymiyyah does he say this, in fact what we find from him is the exact opposite, and we challenge anybody who accuses Ibn Taymiyyah of this to bring his proof.
Ibn Taymiyyah says:
“The Salaf of this nation, its Imams, and the whole Ahlus-Sunnah w’al-Jama’ah are agreed that there are some things from the creation that will not come to an end in their entirety like Paradise, Hellfire, the Throne, and others. No one believed that all of the creation would come to an end except for a group from the People of innovated speech (Ahlul-Kalam) and those who agreed with them from amongst the Mu’tazila and their likes. This is an invalid opinion which contradicts the Book of Allah, the Sunnah of His Messenger and the consensus of the nation and its Imams.” [‘Bayan Talbis al-Jahmiyyah‘ (1/851)]
This is from one perspective, as for the other than it is over the issue of the Punishment of the Hellfire coming to an end. This is an issue over which there is a difference of opinion emanating from the Salafthemselves as the reader of the Tafsirs of At-Tabari, As-Suyuti and others can see under the verse 11:107 and 6:128. It is possible to explain these narrations in two ways: the first being that the saying of some of the Companions and Tabi’in that, “There will come a time when there will be no-one in Hellfire” is to be taken literally. The second is that it is to be taken to refer only to the Muslims in the Hellfire.
No matter how we take it, to rule someone’s deviancy or unbelief based on this is not possible, for only one who contradicts a consensus that is firmly established to exist, and unequivocal in it’s meaning can be ruled to be a deviant or a disbeliever. This is not the case here despite the efforts of some scholars to make it seem so. Even if it were so, then neither Ibn Taymiyyah or Ibn al-Qayyim held this view, so do not be deceived by what the likes of As-Subki writes in his ‘Al-I’tibar bi Baqa al-Jannah wa’n-Nar‘ (forming part of his ‘Risa’il‘).
As-Subki says, in the course of his discussion on this point:
“I came across the aforementioned book and he mentioned in it three opinions over the Hellfire coming to an end; 1) Both Paradise and Hell will end and he said that no one from the salaf held this opinion; 2) that both are eternal; and 3) that Paradise remains and Hellfire will come to an end. And he inclined to this position and said that this was the madhhab of the Salaf.” [‘Al-I’tibar‘ (p. 201)]
The opponents who read this book, thought that As-Subki was referring to Ibn Taymiyyah and hence the origin of this accusation against Ibn Taymiyyah. But in reality this is from the words of Ibn al-Qayyim and it seems that As-Subki did not even fully read what this Imam had to say!
Ibn al-Qayyim says: ‘Al-Hadi al-Arwah‘ (p. 429+),
“And this is an issue over which the latter people differed over, falling into three opinions; 1) That both Paradise and Hell will come to an end and are not eternal, rather just as all created things they will come to an end; 2) That both will remain, never coming to an end; 3) That Paradise is eternal, and the Hellfire will come to an end. We will mention these opinions and their proponents along with their evidences, and we will reject what contradicts the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger.
“1) As for the first saying, then it was said by Jahm ibn Safwan, the Imam of the Jahmiyyah, and he did not any precedent in this from the Salaf – neither in the Companions, nor the Tabi’in, nor any of the Imams of Islam, or indeed anyone from Ahlus-Sunnah. Rather this saying was one that was rejected by the Imams and they declared the unbelief of the ones that held to it, as is mentioned in ‘As-Sunnah‘ of ‘Abdullah ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal reporting from Kharijah ibn Mus’ab that he said, ‘I declare the Jahmiyyah to be unbelievers due to three verses from the Book of Allah, Azza wa Jall, ‘Its (Paradise) provision and food is eternal’ and they say it will end.‘Verily this is Our provision which will never finish’, and they say they will. ‘Whatever is with you will pass away, and what is with Allah will remain’ ‘
“2) As for the saying that the Hellfire is eternal, then Shaykh ul-Islamsaid, ‘There are two famous opinions from the Salaf and Khalaf and this difference is known to exist amongst the Tabi’in.’ I say: and here are seven opinions on this:
1. That the one entering it will never leave, this being the saying of the Khawarij and Mu’tazila.
2. That it’s inhabitants will be punished for a time but then this punishment will be changed for them and they will live in a normal manner, gaining pleasure from the Fire, due to its being in conformity to their nature. This is the saying of the Imam of the Ittihadiyyah (anthropomorphists) Ibn Arabi at-Ta’i.
3. That its inhabitants will be punished for a time, then they will be removed from it, and another creation placed in Hell. This opinion was one that the Jews related to the Messenger and he declared them liars due to it as did Allah by saying, ‘And they (the Jews) say: the Fire will not touch us but for a few days. Say: have you taken a covenant from Allah, so that Allah will not break His Covenant? Or is it that you say of Allah what you know not. And those who believe and do righteous deeds, they are dwellers of Paradise, they will dwell therein forever.’ This saying is then the saying of the enemies of Allah, the Jews, and they are the shaykhs of its proponents. The Qur’an, Sunnah, and the consensus of the Sahabah and the Tabi’in and the Imams indicate this opinions invalidity. Allah says, ‘And they will not leave it’ …
4. That its inhabitants will leave it and the Fire will remain, being empty, this is related by Shaykh ul-Islam (Ibn Taymiyyah). And this opinion is also refuted by the Qur’an and Sunnah as has preceded.
5. That it will come to an end due to its being created. It is impossible for anything that is created to remain forever, this is the saying of Jahm ibn Safwan, and he does not distinguish in this between the Fire and Paradise.
6. That its inhabitants will die and lose movement and remain in there as inanimate things, and they will not be affected by pain. This is the saying of Abu’l-Hudhayl al-Alaf, the Imam of the Mu’tazila, and in this ruling he does distinguish between Paradise and Hell.
7. That its Creator and Lord will cause it to come to an end, for He has given it a limited period.
“Shaykh ul-Islam said, ‘This (last) saying was related from ‘Umar, Ibn Mas’ud, Abu Hurayrah, Abu Sa’id and others.’ Abd ibn Humayd related – and he is from the most noble of the scholars of hadith – in his famous tafsir, Sulayman ibn Harb reported to us, from Salma, from Thabit from Hasan who said, ‘ ‘Umar said: If the people of Hell were to remain in the Fire to the extent of the stones in a mountain there would be a day that they would leave it.’
“And he said, ‘Hajaj ibn Minhal, from Hammad ibn Salma, from Humayd from Hasan that ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab said, ‘If the People of the Fire were to remain in the Fire to the extent of the stones in a mountain there would be a day that they would leave it.’ He mentioned this in the tafsir of His saying, ‘They will stay in there for periods.’ [Al-Qur’an 78:23]
“So Abd, who is from the Imams of the Huffadh and scholars ofSunnah relates from these two noble personalities: Sulayman ibn Harb and Hajjaj ibn Minhal, who in turn narrate from Hammad ibn Salma, and he narrates from Thabit and Humayd, and these two from Hasan. And this is sufficient to show the excellence of thisisnad.
“And Hasan, even if he did not hear anything from ‘Umar, relates this also from some of the Tabi’in. If this was not authentic from ‘Umar, according to him, then why did he narrate it and designate his narration with certainty by saying, ‘ ‘Umar said’? And why did those Imams narrate it from him without rejection or refutation when it is known that they rejected anything that contradicted theSunnah and refuted matters less than this? So if this saying was from those that contradicted the Qur’an and Sunnah and ijma’ of the Imams then they would have been the first to reject it.
“There is no doubt that the one who sticks to this opinion of ‘Umar, and narrates it from him means a portion/type of the inhabitants of the Fire. For the people (i.e. Muslims) that are punished due to their sins, then these people would leave it and they would not stay in it the extent of the stones in a mountain. And the word, ‘People of the Fire’ is not specific to the believers in the Oneness of Allah, rather it is specific to their enemies, as the Prophet said, ‘As for the People of the Fire who are it’s inhabitants, then they will neither live or die in their.’ [Sahih Muslim] What has preceded does not contradict His saying, ‘They will remain in their forever,’ and His saying, ‘And they will never leave it.’
“Ibn Mas’ud said, ‘There will come a time in which there will be no-one in the Fire and that is after they have remained in there for periods.’ The likes of this is related from Abu Hurayrah, both being reported by Al-Baghawi in his tafsir. Then he says after this, ‘And the meaning of these according to Ahlus-Sunnah, if they are established, is that no one of the People of faith will remain in there’ … “ [‘Al-Hadi al-Arwah‘ (pp. 429+)]
So with this it is clear that both Ibn Taymiyyah and his student did not hold the Hellfire to come to an end or that the punishment would cease for the unbelievers. Were it not for the fear of lengthening the discussion beyond what is necessary, we would quote from the tafsir of Ibn Taymiyyah in which he makes clear that certain types of people would remain in the Hellfire forever, for example, Pharaoh.
This so far is sufficient proof that Ibn Taymiyyah was slandered, is slandered and that his belief and the teachings are in accordance with what the sahaba taught and believed.
We ask Allah forc success in the dunya and akhira, we ask Him for knowledge that will benefit us, our loved ones and all the Muslims.
والله تعالى أعلم
وصلى اللهم وسلم وبارك على نبينا محمد وعلى آله وصحبه والتابعين
أخوك أبو ناصر