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AL-HARAWI AL-ANSARI, ABD ALLAH by GF Haddad - Rabi` al-Awwal 1424 `Abd Allh ibn Muhammad ibn `Al Ab Ism`l

al-Haraw al-Ansr al-Hanbal (396-481), a major Sf shaykh, hadth Master, Qur'nic commentator, and philologist of the Hanbal school eulogized by al-Dhahab as "a genuine advocate of the transmitted sources" (athar quhh). He used to distribute his wealth once a year to students and townspeople and was fearless in speaking the truth to princes. He is one of those known as "Shaykh al-Islm" but Ibn al-Subk said: "He does not deserve that title but was given out of fanaticism, in imitation of Ab `Uthmn [al-Sbn]."1 A fanatical censor of innovations, he was an arch-enemy of Ash`ars in his time, against whom he wrote Dhamm al-Kalm ("The Blame of Dialectic Theology"), admired by al-Dhahab but banned by Ibn Hajar - who forbade his students to read it as a model of bad writing.2 Because of this enmity he was expelled from Balkh repeatedly and jailed together with his students. Asked before Nizm al-Mulk's court why he cursed Ab al-Hasan al-Ash`ar, he replied: I do not know Ab al-Hasan, but I curse whoever does not firmly hold that Allh is in the heaven, or that the Qur'n is in the mushaf, and says that the Prophet Allah bless and greet him - today is no longer a prophet! To hold that Allh is located in, above, or below the heaven is anthropomorphism; to hold that the mushaf is pre-eternal is indwelling (hull); finally, al-Ash`ar and his School never held that the Prophet Allah bless and greet him - today is no longer a Prophet, but the reverse.3 Another work al-Haraw compiled in refutation of Ash`ars is al-Frq fl-Sift also known as al-Frq fl-Farq bayn al-Muthbita wal-Mu`attila - in which he states: "Allh is in the seventh heaven (f al-sam' al-sbi`a) over the Throne (`al al-`arsh) Himself (bi nafsihi)" and "in (f) as well as over (`al) the seventh heaven."4 A third work compiled against Ash`ars, al-Arba`n fl-Tawhd is replete, like the Frq, with blatant anthropomorphism and hadth forgeries. Perhaps the most extreme illustration of anthropomorphism ever authored by a purportedly Sunni authority, it contains about forty chapters, among them: "Exposition on the Fact that Allh Most High is Something (shay')"; "Exposition of the Fact that Allh Most High is a Person (shakhs)"; "Affirmation of the Fact that Allh Most High has a Limit (hadd)"; "Affirmation of the Fact that Allh Most High has Sides or Directions (jiht)"; "Affirmation of the Fact that Allh Most High has an Image (sra)"; "Affirmation of His Handwriting (khatt)"; "Affirmation of the Fact that Allh Most High has Fingers (asbi`)";

and - in conclusion - "The Prohibition of Delving Too Deep into the Divine Attributes"!5 Upon the encouragement of a female relative, Bb Nznn, al-Haraw al-Ansr met then became the student of the unlettered Naqshband Shaykh, Khwj Ab alHasan al-Kharqn (d 425).6 He authored several treatises detailing the principles and methods of the Sf path. Among them: Manzil al-S'irn il al-Haqq al-Mubn, frowned upon by Ibn al-Qayyim, alDhahab, Ibn Rajab, and characterized by their teacher Ibn Taymiyya as "falling into the doctrine of incarnationism (hull)"7 and "ending up in literal merging with the Divine (haqqat al-ittihd),"8 of which Ibn al-Qayyim wrote an expurged version -cumcritical commentary entitled Madrij al-Slikn. Tabaqt al-Sfiyya ("Synchronical Layers of the Sf Masters"), the expanded version of an earlier work by the - Ash`ar - Shaykh Ab `Abd al-Rahmn al-Sulam (d 411) bearing the same title. `Ilal al-Maqmt ("The Pitfalls of Spiritual Stations"), his testament, describing the characteristics of spiritual states for the student and the teacher in the Sf path; Ibn Taymiyya in his Minhj al-Sunna again said that al-Haraw filled it with notions of indwelling and union-with-the-Divine.9 Sd Maydn (in Persian, "The Hundred Fields"), a commentary on the meanings of love in the verse: {If you love Allh, follow me, and Allh will love you} (3:31). This book collects al-Haraw's lectures in the years 447-448 at the Great Mosque of Herat (in present-day Afghanistan) in which he presents his most eloquent exposition of the necessity of following the Sf path. He is also said to have devoted three hundred and sixty sittings to the commentary of the verse {Lo! those unto whom kindness has gone forth before from Us, they will be far removed from thence [Hellfire]} (21:101). Kashf al-Asrr wa `Uddat al-Abrr (in Persian, "The Unveiling of the Secrets and the Harness of the Righteous"), in ten volumes by al-Maybd, it contains alHaraw's Qur'nic commentary. Al-Haraw al-Ansr is documented by al-Dhahab in his Trkh al-Islm and Siyar A`lm al-Nubal', Ibn Rajab in his Dhayl Tabaqt al-Hanbila,10 and Jm in his book in Persian Manqib-i Shaykh al-Islm Ansr11 among others.
Main source: Siyar 14:38-48 4333. NOTES 1_Ibn al-Subk, Tabaqt al-Shfi`iyya al-Kubr (4:272-273).

2_As mentioned by Ibn Hajar's student al-Sakhw in the introduction to al-Jawhir wal-Durar. 3_See on these notions Shaykh Nuh Keller's article, "Is It Permissible for a Muslim to Believe that Allh Is in the Sky in a Literal Sense?" at and Ibn `Abd al-Salm's al-Mulha in general, especially the section entitled "Proofs Against Those Who Claim the mushaf is Pre-Eternal". On the attribution to Ash`ars of the heretical notion that "the Prophet upon him peace - today is no longer a prophet," see our notice on Ibn Frk at 4_As quoted by al-Dhahab in Mukhtasar al-`Uluw (p. 278 339 and p. 151 150). 5_More alarming yet is the characterization of the above as "Salaf doctrine" (al-`aqda alsalafiyya) by al-Haraw's admirer `Abd Allh ibn Muhammad al-Ansr in his recent 5-volume edition of Dhamm al-Kalm (1:83, 1:86). 6_The Naqshband chain of masters at the time of al-Kharqn is as follows: Ab Yazd alBistm > Ab al-Hasan al-Kharqn > Ab `Al al-Farmad (al-Ghazzl's teacher) > Ab Ysuf al-Hamadn > Ab al-`Abbs al-Khidr > `Abd al-Khliq al-Ghujdawn. 7_In his Majm` al-Fatw (5:126, 5:230, 14:11, cf. 5:485, 8:317). 8_In his Minhj al-Sunna (1986 ed 5:342). 9_As quoted in al-Ghumr's al-Burhn (p. 52). 10_Ibn Rajab, Dhayl Tabaqt al-Hanbila (1:64-85). 11_Edited by A.J. Arberry, "Jami's Biography of Ansr" in The Islamic Quarterly (JulyDecember 1963) p. 57-82.