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Not according to, among others, Prof.

Chittick, even though his reasons differ from

those offered by people like A. Schimmel, for example. Recently I looked a bit into it
and there are many clues in the thought of Rumi's father Baha al-Din Valad which
suggest that the link between Ibn Arabi is more coincidental, stemming from their
shared, in many respects, world view and not from Qunavi. Think Ghazalis, both,
Ahmad and Abu Hamid. Besides, Qunavi distorted Ibn Arabi's thought and made it
more philosophically static, which definitely is not the case in Ibn Arabi's own
thought which is very dynamic, constantly shifting the perspectives. I have also
noticed that both, Ibn Arabi as well as Rumi, share a great deal of similarities which in
fact come from Asharites, they often appear as a reference in Baha Valad, Ibn Arabi
and Rumi.

Ibn Taymiyya, Taqi al-Din (1263-1328)

1998, Routledge, vol. 4, str. 655-56)
Ibn Taymiyya was a staunch defender of Sunni Islam based on strict
adherence to the Qur'an and authentic sunna (practices) of the
Prophet Muhammad. He believed that these two sources contain all
the religious and spiritual guidance necessary for our salvation in
the hereafter. Thus he rejected the arguments and ideas of both
philosophers and Sufis regarding religious knowledge, spiritual
experiences and ritual practices. He believed that logic is not a
reliable means of attaining religious truth and that the intellect
must be subservient to revealed truth. He also came into conflict
with many of his fellow Sunni scholars because of his
rejection of the rigidity of the schools of jurisprudence in
Islam. He believed that the four accepted schools of
jurisprudence had become stagnant and sectarian, and also
that they were being improperly influenced by aspects of
Greek logic and thought as well as Sufi mysticism. His
challenge to the leading scholars of the day was to return to an
understanding of Islam in practice and in faith, based solely on the
Qur'an and sunna.
Ibn Taymiyya was born in Harran, Syria, and died in Damascus in ah
728/ad 1328. He lived in a time when the Islamic world was
suffering from external aggression and internal strife. The
crusaders had not been fully expelled from the Holy Land, and the
Mongols had all but destroyed the eastern Islamic empire when they
captured Baghdad in ah 656/ad 1258. In Egypt, the Mamluks had just

come to power and were consolidating their hold over Syria. Within
Muslim society, Sufi orders were spreading beliefs and practices not
condoned by orthodox Islam, while the orthodox schools of
jurisprudence were stagnant in religious thought and practice. It was
in this setting of turmoil and conflict that Ibn Taymiyya formulated
his views on the causes of the weakness of the Muslim nations and
on the need to return to the Qur'an and sunna (practices) as the
only means for revival.
Although Ibn Taymiyya was educated in the Hanbali school of
thought, he soon reached a level of scholarship beyond the confines
of that school. He was fully versed in the opinions of the four
schools, which helped lead him to the conclusion that blind
adherence to one school would bring a Muslim into conflict with the
letter and spirit of Islamic law based on the Qur'an and sunna.
Similarly, he had acquired a deep understanding of philosophical
and mystical texts. In particular, he focused on the works of Ibn
Sina and Ibn al-'Arabi as examples of philosophical and
mystical deviation in Islam, respectively. Both of these trends
had come to exert strong influence on Muslim scholars and lay
people alike.
Ibn Taymiyya placed primary importance on revelation as the only
reliable source of knowledge about God and about a person's
religious duties towards him. The human intellect ('aql) and its
powers of reason must be subservient to revelation.
According to Ibn Taymiyya, the only proper use of 'aql was to
understand Islam in the way the Prophet and his
companions did, and then to defend it against deviant sects.
When discussing the nature of God, he argued, one must accept the
descriptions found in the Qur'an and sunna and apply the orthodox
view of not asking how (bi-la kayf) particular attributes exist
in God. This means that one believes in all of the attributes of God
mentioned in the Qur'an and sunna without investigating the
nature of these, because the human mind is incapable of
understanding the eternal God. For example, one accepts that God
is mounted upon a throne above the heavens without questioning
how this is possible. This same attitude is held for all of God's
attributes such as his sight, his hearing or his hand.
This view is very much opposed to the philosophical view of
God as First Cause and as being devoid of attributes. Thus
the philosophical argument that the oneness of God precludes
a multiplicity of attributes was not acceptable to Ibn
Taymiyya, because God says that he is one and that he has various
attributes. This denial of the attributes of God based on
rationalism was adopted by the Mu'tazila (see Ash'ariyya and
Mu'tazila), of whom Ibn Taymiyya was especially critical. Even
the more orthodox views of the Ash'aris, who accepted seven

attributes basic to God, were criticized by Ibn Taymiyya.

However, he did not go so far as to declare these two groups
heretical, for they deviated only in their interpretation of
God's nature. But he did not spare the label of apostate for those
philosophers such as al-Farabi and Ibn Sina who, in addition to the
denial of God's attributes, also denied the createdness of the world
and believed in the emanation of the universe from God.
Ibn Taymiyya attacked the idea of emanation not only in its
philosophical but also in its mystical context, as adopted by the
Sufis (see Mystical philosophy in Islam). He felt that the beliefs and
practices of the Sufis were far more dangerous than were the
ideas of the philosophers. The latter were a small elite group
that had little direct effect on the masses. The Sufis,
however, were widespread and had a large popular
following. However, Ibn Taymiyya saw a link between the
ideas of the philosophers and those of the Sufis, even
though apparently they had little in common.
The main tenet of Sufi thought as propounded by Ibn al-'Arabi is the
concept of the oneness of existence (wahdat al-wujud). Through
this belief, Sufis think they are able to effect a merging of
their souls with God's essence. That is, when God reveals his
truth to an individual, that person realizes that there is no difference
between God and the self. Ibn Taymiyya saw a link between the
Sufi belief of wahdat al-wujud and the philosophical concept
of emanation. Although the philosopher would deny that a human
soul could flow into, and thus be, the First Cause, the mystical
experience of the Sufis took them beyond the realm of intellectual
discourse. According to the mystic, a merging occurred but could
not be expressed in rational terms. For Ibn Taymiyya, both the
philosopher and the mystic were deluded, the former by reliance on
a limited human intellect and the latter by excessive emotions.
Ibn Taymiyya's argument against the Sufis is on two levels. First,
there is the theological position that God has attributes and that one
of these attributes is God as creator. Ibn Taymiyya believed that the
Qur'an firmly establishes that God is the one who created,
originated and gave form to the universe. Thus there exists a
distinction between God the creator and the created beings.
This is an absolute distinction with no possibility of merging.
He then went on to say that those who strip God of his attributes
and deny that he is the creator are just one step away from falling
into the belief of wahdat al-wujud. This is the basis for the second
part of his argument. Ibn Taymiyya believed that a Sufi is
simply someone who is overcome by an outburst of emotion.
For example, someone may deny God's attributes but could then be
overwhelmed by a feeling of love for God. However, the basis of that
person's knowledge is not the authentic information from the

Qur'an, and so their weak intellectual foundation collapses with

the onslaught of emotion. For according to Ibn Taymiyya, sense
perception and emotions cannot be trusted, and the
likelihood of being led astray by them is compounded when one
has a basis of knowledge which is itself errant and deviant. One
holds a proper belief in God and maintains a proper relationship
with him, Ibn Taymiyya argued, by establishing a foundation
of knowledge based on the Qur'an and authentic sunna.

[23] ON TASAWWUF Ibn Taymiyya (d. 728/ad 1328)

Reproduced with permission from Shaykh M. Hisham Kabbani's
The Repudiation of "Salafi" Innovations (Kazi, 1996) p. 354-366.

His admirers cite this jurist and hadith master of the Hanbali school
as an enemy of Sufis, and he is the principal authority in the
campaign of "Salafis" responsible for creating the present climate
of unwarranted fanaticism and encouragement to ignorance
regarding tasawwuf. Yet Ibn Taymiyya was himself a Sufi.
However, "Salafis" are careful never to show the Sufi Ibn Taymiyya,
who would severely hamper their construction of him as purely antiSufi.
Ibn Taymiyya's discourse on tasawwuf is riddled with contradictions
and ambiguities. One might say that even though he levelled all
sorts of judgments on Sufis, he was nevertheless unable to deny the
greatness of tasawwuf upon which the Community had agreed long
before he came along. As a result he is often observed slighting
tasawwuf, questioning his Sufi contemporaries, and reducing the
primacy of the elite of Muslims to ordinariness, at the same time as
he boasts of being a Qadiri Sufi in a direct line of succession
to Shaykh `Abd al-Qadir al-Gilani, as we show in the lines that
It should be clear that the reason we quote the following evidence is
not because we consider Ibn Taymiyya in any way representative of
tasawwuf. In our view he no more represents tasawwuf than he
represents the `aqida of Ahl al-Sunna. However, we quote his
views only to demonstrate that his misrepresentation by
Orientalists and "Salafis" purely as an enemy of tasawwuf
does not stand to scrutiny. Regardless of the desires of one
group or another, the facts provide clear evidence that Ibn Taymiyya
had no choice but to accept tasawwuf and its principles, and that he
himself not only claimed to be a Sufi, but also to have been adorned
with the cloak (khirqa) of shaykhhood in the Qadiri Sufi Order.

We have already mentioned Ibn Taymiyya's admiration for `Abd alQadir Gilani, to whom he gives the title "my Shaykh"
(shaykhuna) and "my Master" (sayyidi) exclusively in his entire
Fatawa. Ibn Taymiyya's sufi inclinations and his reverence for `Abd
al-Qadir Gilani can also be seen in his hundred-page commentary
on Futuh al-ghayb, covering only five of the seventy-eight
sermons of the book, but showing that he considered
tasawwuf essential within the life of the Islamic community. 1
In his commentary Ibn Taymiyya stresses that the primacy of
the Shari`a forms the soundest tradition in tasawwuf, and to
argue this point he lists over a dozen early masters, as well as more
contemporary shaykhs like his fellow Hanbalis, al-Ansari al-Harawi
and `Abd al-Qadir, and the latter's own shaykh, Hammad alDabbas:The upright among the followers of the Path - like the
majority of the early shaykhs (shuyukh al-salaf) such as Fudayl
ibn `Iyad, Ibrahim ibn Adham, Ma`ruf al-Karkhi, al-Sari al-Saqati, alJunayd ibn Muhammad, and others of the early teachers, as well as
Shaykh Abd al-Qadir, Shaykh Hammad, Shaykh Abu al-Bayan and
others of the later masters -- do not permit the followers of the
Sufi path to depart from the divinely legislated command
and prohibition, even were that person to have flown in the air or
walked on water.2
Elsewhere also, such as in his al-Risala al-safadiyya, Ibn
Taymiyya defends the Sufis as those who belong to the path
of the Sunna and represent it in their teachings and
writings:The great shaykhs mentioned by Abu `Abd alRahman al-Sulami in Tabaqat al-sufiyya, and Abu al-Qasim
al-Qushayri in al-Risala, were adherents of the school of Ahl
al-Sunna wa al-Jama`a and the school of Ahl al-hadith, such
as al-Fudayl ibn `Iyad, al-Junayd ibn Muhammad, Sahl ibn `Abd
Allah al-Tustari, `Amr ibn `Uthman al-Makki, Abu `Abd Allah
Muhammad ibn Khafif al-Shirazi, and others, and their speech is
found in the Sunna, and they composed books about the Sunna.3
In his treatise on the difference between the lawful forms of
worship and the innovative forms, entitled Risalat al-`ibadat
al-shar`iyya wal-farq baynaha wa bayn al-bid`iyya, Ibn
Taymiyya unmistakably states that that the lawful is the
method and way of "those who follow the Sufi path" or "the
way of self-denial" (zuhd) and those who follow "what is
called poverty and tasawwuf", i.e. the fuqara' and the
Sufis:The lawful is that by which one approaches near to
Allah. It is the way of Allah. It is righteousness, obedience,
good deeds, charity, and fairness. It is the way of those on
the Sufi path (al-salikin), and the method of those intending Allah
and worshipping Him; it is that which is travelled by everyone who
desires Allah and follows the way of self-denial (zuhd) and religious

practice, and what is called poverty and tasawwuf and the

Regarding `Abd al-Qadir's teaching that the salik or Sufi
wayfarer should abstain from permitted desires, Ibn
Taymiyya begins by determining that Abd al-Qadir's intention is
that one should give up those permitted things which are not
commanded, for there may be a danger in them. But to what
extent? If Islam is essentially learning and carrying out the Divine
command, then there must be a way for the striver on the path to
determine the will of Allah in each particular situation. Ibn
Taymiyya concedes that the Qur'an and Sunna cannot
explicitly cover every possible specific event in the life of
every believer. Yet if the goal of submission of will and desire
to Allah is to be accomplished by those seeking Him, there must be
a way for the striver to ascertain the Divine command in its
Ibn Taymiyya's answer is to apply the legal concept of ijtihad to the
spiritual path, specifically to the notion of ilham or inspiration. In his
efforts to achieve a union of his will with Allah's, the true
Sufi reaches a state where he desires nothing more than to
discover the greater good, the action which is most pleasing
and loveable to Allah. When external legal arguments
cannot direct him in such matters, he can rely on the
standard Sufi notions of private inspiration (ilham) and
intuitive perception (dhawq):If the Sufi wayfarer has
creatively employed his efforts to the external shar`i
indications and sees no clear probability concerning his
preferable action, he may then feel inspired, along with his
goodness of intention and reverent fear of Allah, to choose
one of two actions as superior to the other. This kind of
inspiration (ilham) is an indication concerning the truth. It
may be even a stronger indication than weak analogies, weak
hadiths, weak literalist arguments (zawahir), and weak istisHaab
which are employed by many who delve into the principles,
differences, and systematizing of fiqh.5
Ibn Taymiyya bases this view on the principle that Allah has put a
natural disposition for the truth in mankind, and when this
natural disposition has been grounded in the reality of faith
and enlightened by Qur'anic teaching, and still the striver on
the path is unable to determine the precise will of Allah in
specific instances, then his heart will show him the
preferable course of action. Such an inspiration, he holds, is
one of the strongest authorities possible in the situation.
Certainly the striver will sometimes err, falsely guided by his
inspiration or intuitive perception of the situation, just as the

mujtahid sometimes errs. But, he says, even when the mujtahid or

the inspired striver is in error, he is obedient.
Appealing to ilham and dhawq does not mean following
one's own whims or personal preferences.6 In his letter to Nasr
al-Manbiji, he qualifies this intuition as "faith-informed" (al-dhawq
al-imani). His point is, as in the commentary to the Futuh, that
inspirational experience is by nature ambiguous and needs
to be qualified and informed by the criteria of the Qur'an
and the Sunna. Nor can it lead to a certainty of the truth in
his view, but what it can do is give the believer firm grounds
for choosing the more probably correct course of action in a
given instance and help him to conform his will, in the specific
details of his life, to that of his Creator and Commander.7
Other works of his as well abound in praise for Sufi teachings. For
example, in his book al-ihtijaj bi al-qadar, he defends the
Sufis' emphasis on love of Allah and their voluntarist rather
than intellectual approach to religion as being in agreement
with the teachings of the Qur'an , the sound hadith, and the
imja` al-salaf:As for the Sufis, they affirm the love (of Allah), and this
is more evident among them than all other issues. The basis of
their Way is simply will and love. The affirmation of the love of
Allah is well-known in the speech of their early and recent masters,
just as it is affirmed in the Book and the Sunna and in the
agreement of the Salaf.8
Ibn Taymiyya is also notorious for his condemnation of Ibn
`Arabi. However, what he condemned was not Ibn `Arabi but a tiny
book of his entitled Fusus al-hikam, which forms a single slim
volume. As for Ibn `Arabi's magnum opus, al-Futuhat al-makkiyya
(The Meccan divine disclosures), Ibn Taymiyya was no less
an admirer of this great work than everyone else in Islam who saw
it, as he declares in his letter to Abu al-Fath Nasr al-Munayji
(d. 709) published in his the volume entitled Tawhid al-rububiyya of
his Fatawa:I was one of those who, previously, used to hold the best
opinion of Ibn `Arabi and extol his praise, because of the benefits I
saw in his books, such as what he said in many of his books, for
example: al-Futuhat, al-Kanh, al-Muhkam al-marbut, al-Durra alfakhira, Matali` al-nujum, and other such works.9
Ibn Taymiyya goes on to say he changed his opinions, not
because of anything in these books, but only after he read the
We now turn to the evidence of Ibn Taymiyya's affiliation with the
Qadiri Sufi Way and to his own acknowledgement, as related by his
student Ibn `Abd al-Hadi (d. 909), that he had received the Qadiri
khirqa or cloak of authority from `Abd al-Qadir al-Gilani

through a chain of three shaykhs. These are no other than the

three Ibn Qudamas who are among the established authorities in
fiqh in the Hanbali school. This information was brought to light by
George Makdisi in a series of articles published in the 1970s. 10
In a manuscript of the Yusuf ibn `Abd al Hadi al-Hanbali entitled Bad'
al 'ilqa bi labs al khirqa (The beginning of the shield in the wearing
of the Sufi cloak), Ibn Taymiyya is listed within a Sufi spiritual
genealogy with other well known Hanbali scholars. The links in this
genealogy are, in descending order:
`Abd al-Qadir al-Gilani (d. 561)

Abu `Umar ibn Qudama (d. 607)

Muwaffaq al Din ibn Qudama (d. 620)

Ibn Abi `Umar ibn Qudama (d. 682)

Ibn Taymiyya (d. 728)
Ibn Qayyim al Jawziyya (d. 751)
Ibn Rajab (d. 795)(Both Abu `Umar ibn Qudama and his brother
Muwaffaq al-Din received the khirqa directly from Abd al-Qadir
Ibn Taymiyya is then quoted by Ibn `Abd al Hadi as affirming
his Sufi affiliation both in the Qadiri order and in other Sufi
orders:I have worn the Sufi cloak of a number of shaykhs
belonging to various tariqas (labistu khirqata at tasawwuf min
turuqi jama'atin min al shuyukhi), among them the Shaykh `Abd
al-Qadir al Jili, whose tariqa is the greatest of the well known
ones.Further on he says:The greatest Sufi Way (ajall al-turuq) is that
of my master (sayyidi) `Abd al-Qadir al Jili, may Allah have mercy on
Further corroboration comes from Ibn Taymiyya in one of his own
works, as quoted in his al Mas'ala at tabriziyya:labistu al khirqata almubarakata li al Shaykh `Abd al-Qadir wa bayni wa baynahu ithanI
wore the blessed Sufi cloak of `Abd al-Qadir, there being between
him and me two shaykhs.12
Ibn Taymiyya thus affirms that he was an assiduous reader of Ibn
`Arabi's al-Futuhat al-makkiyya; that he considers `Abd al-Qadir alGilani his shaykh -- he even wrote a commentary on the latter's
Futuh al-ghayb; and that he belongs to the Qadiriyya order and
other Sufi orders. What does he say about tasawwuf and Sufis in

In his essay entitled al-Sufiyya wa al-fuqara' and published in

the eleventh volume (al Tawassuf) of his Majmu`a fatawa
IbnTaymiyya al Kubra, he states:The word sufi was not wellknown in the first three centuries but its usage became wellknown after that. More than a few Imams and shaykhs spoke
about it, such as Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Abu Sulayman al Darani,
and others. It has been related that Sufyan al-Thawri used it. Some
have also mentioned that concerning Hasan al Basri.13
Ibn Taymiyya then goes on to deduce that tasawwuf
originated in Basra among the generations after the tabi`in,
because he finds that many of the early Sufis originated from there
while he does not find evidence of it elsewhere. In this way he
mistakenly reduces tasawwuf to a specific place and time,
cutting it off from its links with the time of the Prophet and
the Companions. This is one the aberrant conclusions which gives
rise, among today's "Salafis," to questions such as: "Where in the
Qur'an and the Sunna is tasawwuf mentioned?" As Ibn `Ajiba replied
to such questioners:The founder of the science of tasawwuf is the
Prophet himself to whom Allah taught it by means of revelation and
inspiration.14 By Allah's favor, we have put this issue to rest in our
lengthy exposition on the proofs of tasawwuf in the pages above.
Ibn Taymiyya continues:Tasawwuf has realities (haqa'iq) and
states of experience (ahwal) which the Sufis mention in their
science... Some say that the Sufi is he who purifies himself
from anything which distracts him from the remembrance of
Allah and who becomes full of reflection about the hereafter,
to the point that gold and stones will be the same to him.
Others say that tasawwuf is safeguarding of the precious
meanings and leaving behind pretensions to fame and
vanity, and the like. Thus the meaning of sufi alludes to the
meaning of siddiq or one who has reached complete
Truthfulness, because the best of human beings after
prophets are the siddiqin, as Allah mentioned in the
verse:Whoever obeys Allah and the Apostle, they are in the
company of those on whom is the grace of Allah: of the
prophets, the truthful saints, the martyrs and the righteous;
ah, what a beautiful fellowship! (4:69)
They consider, therefore, that after the Prophets there is no
one more virtuous than the Sufi, and the Sufi is, in fact,
among other kinds of truthful saints, only one kind, who
specialized in asceticism and worship (al-sufi huwa fi al
haqiqa naw`un min al-siddiqin fahuwa al-siddiq alladhi
ikhtassa bi al zuhdi wa al '`ibada). The Sufi is "the righteous
man of the path," just as others are called "the righteous ones of the
`ulama" and "the righteous ones of the emirs"...[Here Ibn Taymiyya
denies the Sufis' claim that they represent Truthfulness after the

Prophets, and he makes their status only one among many of a

larger pool of truthful servants. This stems from his earlier
premise that tasawwuf originated later and farther than the
Sunna of the Prophet. We have already mentioned that this
premise was incorrect. All of the Sufis consider that the
conveyors of their knowledge and discipline were none other than
the Companions and the Successors, who took it from none other
than the Prophet himself. In this respect the Sufis and the great
Companions and Successors are not differentiated in
essence, although they are differentiated in name, by which
precedence is given to the Companions and the Successors
according to the hadith of the Prophet.
Then Ibn Taymiyya arbitrarily separates Sufis and scholars
into two seemingly discrete groups, whereas we have seen
that all the Sufis were great scholars, and that many of the
greatest scholars were Sufis. Al-Junayd anticipated such highhanded distinctions in his famous statement: "This knowledge of
ours is built of the Qur'an and the Sunna." Also addressing this
important mistake in his Tabaqat al-kubra, Sha`rani quotes alJunayd and goes on to state:Every true Sufi is a scholar is
Sacred Law, though the reverse is not necessarily
true.15]Some people criticized the Sufis and said that they
were innovators and out of the Sunna... but the truth is that
they are exercising ijtihad in view of obeying Allah just as
others who are obedient to Allah have also done. So from them
you will find the Foremost in Nearness (al-sabiq al-muqarrab) by
virtue of his striving, while some of them are from the People of
the Right Hand... and among those claiming affiliation with them,
are those who are unjust to themselves, rebelling against their Lord.
These are the sects of innovators and free-thinkers (zindiq)
who claim affiliation to the Sufis but in the opinion of the
genuine Sufis, they do not belong, for example, al-Hallaj.
[Here Ibn Taymiyya's inappropriate citing of al-Hallaj is far
more symptomatic of his own misunderstanding of tasawwuf
that it is illustrative of the point he is trying to make. In
reality, as `Abd al-Qahir al-Baghdadi said of al-Hallaj, "his
case (among the Sufis) is not clear, though Ibn `Ata' Allah,
Ibn Khafif, and Abu al-Qasim al-Nasir Abadi approved of
him."16 Furthermore, we have already mentioned that major
scholars in Ibn Taymiyya's own school rejected the charges
leveled against al-Hallaj, and even considered him a saint,
such as Ibn `Aqil and Ibn Qudama. Can it be that Ibn Taymiyya was
unaware of all these positions which invalidate his point, or is he
merely affecting ignorance?]Tasawwuf has branched out and
diversified and the Sufis have become known as three types:
1. Sufiyyat al haqa'iq: the Sufis of Realities, and these are
the ones we mentioned above;

2. Sufiyyat al arzaq: the funded Sufis who live on the

religious endowments of Sufi guest-houses and
schools; it is not necessary for them to be among the
people of true realities, as this is a very rare thing
3. Sufiyyat al rasm: the Sufis by appearance only, who are
interested in bearing the name and the dress etc.17
About fana' -- a term used by Sufis literally signifying extinction or
self-extinction -- and the shatahat or sweeping statements of Sufis,
Ibn Taymiyya says:This state of love characterizes many of
the People of Love of Allah and the People of Seeking (Ahl al
irada). A person vanishes to himself in the object of his love
-- Allah through the intensity of his love. He will recall Allah,
not recalling himself, remember Allah and forget himself,
take Allah to witness and not take himself to witness, exist
in Allah, not to himself. When he reaches that stage, he no
longer feels his own existence. That is why he may say in
this state: ana al haqq (I am the Truth), or subhani (Glory to
Me!), and ma fi al-jubba illa Allah (There is nothing in this
cloak except Allah), because he is drunk in the love of Allah
and this is a pleasure and happiness that he cannot
This matter has in it both truth and falsehood. Yet when
someone enters through his fervor a state of ecstatic love
(`ishq) for Allah, he will take leave of his mind, and when he
enters that state of absentmindedness, he will find himself
as if he is accepting the concept of ittihad (union with Allah).
I do not consider this a sin, because that person is excused and
no one may punish him as he is not aware of what he is doing. The
pen does not condemn the crazed person except when he is
restored to sanity (and commits the same act). However, when he
is in that state and commits wrong, he will come under Allah's
address:O Our Lord, do not take us to task if we forget or make
mistakes (2:286), There is no blame on you if you unintentionally
make a mistake.18
The story is mentioned of two men whose mutual love was so strong
that one day, as one of them fell in the sea, the other one threw
himself in behind him. Then the first one asked: "What made you fall
here like me?" His friend replied: "I vanished in you and no longer
saw myself. I thought you were I and I was you"... Therefore, as long
as one is not drunk through something that is prohibited, his action
is accepted from him, but if he is drunk through something
prohibited (i.e. the intention was bad) then he is not excused.19
The above pages show the great extent of Ibn Taymiyya's familiarity
with the broad lines of tasawwuf. Such knowledge was but part of
the complete education of anyone who had a claim to learning in his

day and before his time. It did not constitute something extraneous
or foreign to the great corpus of the Islamic sciences. And yet,
similarly to his case in `aqida which we have unravelled in the
previous pages, Ibn Taymiyya's misunderstanding of tasawwuf
massively outweighed his understanding of it. This point was
brought to light with quasi-surgical precision by the great Sufi
Shaykh Ibn `Ata' Allah in the debate he held with Ibn Taymiyya in
the mosque of al-Azhar in Cairo.

The commentary is found in volume 10:455-548 of the first Riyadh editionof the
Majmu` fatawa Ibn Taymiyya.

Majmu` fatawa Ibn Taymiyya 10:516.

Ibn Taymiyya, al-Safadiyya (Riyad: matabi` hanifa, 1396/1976) 1:267.

Ibn Taymiyya, Majmu`at al-rasa'il wa al-masa'il (Beirut: lajnat al-turath al-`arabi)


Majmu` fatawa Ibn Taymiyya 10:473-474.

Ibid. 10:479.

Ibn Taymiyya, Majmu`a al-rasa'il wal-masa'il 1:162.

Ibn Taymiyya, al-Ihtijaj bi al-qadar (Cairo: al-matba`a al-salafiyya, 1394/1974) p.


Ibn Taymiyya, Tawhid al-rububiyya in Majmu`a al-Fatawa al-kubra (Riyad, 1381)


George Makdisi, "L'isnad initiatique soufi de Muwaffaq ad-Din ibn Qudama," in

Cahiers de l'Herne: Louis Massignon (Paris: Editions de l'Herne, 1970) p. 88-96;
"Ibn Taimiya: A Sufi of the Qadiriya Order," in American Journal of Arabic Studies I
(Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1974) p. 118-129; "The Hanbali School and Sufism," in Boletin de
la Asociacion Espanola de Orientalistas 15 (Madrid, 1979) p. 115-126.

Ibn `Abd al Hadi, Bad' al 'ilqa bi labs al khirqa, ms. al-Hadi, Princeton Library
Arabic Collection, fols. 154a, 169b, 171b 172a; and Damascus University, copy of
original Arabic manuscript, 985H.; also mentioned in at Talyani, manuscript
Chester Beatty 3296 (8) in Dublin, fol. 67a.

Manuscript Damascus, Zahiriyya #1186 H.


Ibn Taymiyya, Majmu`a al-fatawa al-kubra 11:5.


Ibn `Ajiba, Iqaz al-himam p. 6.


al-Sha`rani, al-Tabaqat al-kubra 1:4.


`Abd al-Qahir al-Baghdadi, Usul al-din p. 315-16.


Ibn Taymiyya, Majmu`a al-fatawa al-kubra 11:16-20.


Op. cit. 2:396 397.


Op. cit. 10:339.

---------------------------------------------------------------Ibn Taymiyyah: Misunderstood Genius

- Dr Rachid Ghannuchi
January 8, 2008
VIR: (6.9.2014)
The Life and Legacy of Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah
The name Ibn Taymiyyah is not unknown to those currently
interested in Islam and Muslims, be they activists, thinkers,
journalists or others. Yet too often, little beyond the name and a
hazy preconception of this man is known to people. So who was Ibn
Taymiyyah about whom such controversy persists eight centuries
after his death?
Ahmed Taqi ud-Din Ibn Taymiyyah came from a prominent Hanbali
family known in the field of Shariah. He was born in Harran
[between modern-day Syria and Turkey] on 10 Rabi al-Awwal 661
AH/1263 AD. He remained there until the age of seven, when the
Mongol invasion took over the region spreading terror and
destruction. The Ibn Taymiyyah family left under the cover of night,
carrying the most precious possessions for a family of knowledge
books. The dangerous journey to Damascus had a great
influence on the young Ibn Taymiyyah, instilling in him
hatred of the Tatar occupier. It is then not surprising that he
dedicated his life to opposing them through his pen, tongue and
sword, and to urging the rulers and the ruled to resist them,
through liberating the Ummah from innovations and the
negative creeds which in his view constituted the causes for
disabling the Ummahs capacities and killing in it the spirit of Jihad
and Ijtihad.
Soon after the arrival of the family in Damascus, Shaykh Shihab udDin, the father of Ibn Taymiyyah, rose again to prominence in the
cultural environment of Damascus, which venerated knowledge.
People flocked to his lessons at the Umayyad Mosque, and he

became the shaykh of Dar al-Hadith Al-Sukkariyyah, where his son

grew up.
Taqi ud-Din memorised the Quran whilst still young a boy. He
studied under his father, in addition to the Quran, Hadith and Fiqh,
and studied the Science of language, usul and other sciences of
religion with other Scholars. The young Ibn Taymiyyah did not limit
himself to the sciences inherited within his family, learning in depth
the sciences of theology, philosophy, mathematics, algebra, and the
history of religions. He as describes as fast to memorise and slow
to forget.
Before the age of twenty, he became qualified to issue fatawa [legal
opinions], and at the age of twenty-one, upon the death of his
father, he succeeded him to teach Hadith and Fiqh at the Dar alHadith al-Sukkariyyah. He also succeeded his father at the Umayyad
mosque, where he gave lectures on Tafsir. In 1296, at the death of
his professor Zayn al-Din Ibn Munajja, Ibn Taymiyyah succeeded to
the chair of Fiqh vacated in the Madrasal al-Hanbaliyyah.
Realising the centrality of Tawhid in the entire Islamic
edifice, the greater part of his efforts was dedicated to
purifying Islamic thought and Aqidah [creed] of traces of
theological debates and philosophical mysticism. Those traces
had deeply penetrated all branches of Islamic culture, most
importantly the conception of Man, is place in this existence, and his
freedoms and responsibilities, all of which were affected by the
creeds of Wahdat al-Wujud [pantheism monism - that
[immanence/incarnation]. Ibn Taymiyyah was alarmed at these
creeds, which spread division, confusion, rigidity and passivity,
having targeted at the heart of the body of the Ummah,
disabling its movements and desensitising it to the dangers facing
Ibn Taymiyyahs efforts were pioneering in the movement of reform.
Though they did not meet with success and wide acceptance during
his time because of the deep-rootedness of the heritage of decline
and the powerful alliance built between Fiqhi Taqlid, reclusive tariqas
and despotic rule, his efforts did not go to waste and have had a
great impact on contemporary reform movements. The reestablishment of the link between the reality of the Ummah and its
problem on the one hand and the pure sources on the other, and the
related liberation of the creed of Tawhid from subsequent deviations,
the establishment of the awareness of Mans responsibility towards
his message and mission and the necessary consequences of Ijtihad
and jihad are at the heart of Ibn Taymiyyahs work and its
importance for revival. Many may take such principles for granted,

having been used to viewing intellectual, political, economical and

every-day problems in the light of the Quran and the Sunnah, and
thus may not appreciate the efforts of Shaykh al-Islam Ibn
Taymiyyah or subsequent reformers who clarified this methodology
and brought it out of the ruins of history.
It is sufficient for todays youth who may not be aware of the
significance of such pioneering efforts to consider that at the end of
the eighteenth century a group of scholars were brought before the
judge in Damascus under the charge of committing Ijtihad!
However, it is important to note that while contemporary reform
movements draw inspiration from Ibn Taymiyyahs thought,
this has often been a formal relation, while the social dimensions
of Ibn Taymiyyahs thought, which established great
principles such as intellectual and political freedom and
social justice, have often been neglected and marginalised.
It is also important to note that those who claim to be followers of
this great scholar are not all necessarily representative of his
In the field of politics, Ibn Taymiyyah established the principles of
justice as the foundation of political theory, even with no recourse to
the text. As clarified by his student Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah,
political theory does not need to be prescribed by the text; it is
sufficient that it does not contradict it. Ibn Taymiyyah also
established the principle of the Ummah as the sole foundation of the
rulers legitimacy, interpreting, for instance, the covenant of AlSaqifa [following the death of the Prophet] or the six companions
delegated by Umar after his death appointed Uthman, not as
binding pledges [bayah] but rather as nominations. Ibn Taymiyyah
also established the principle of state interference in economical life
to control prices, stop monopoly and other methods of activating the
states social role.
The writings of any thinker should be read in the light of the
context in which they lived, the challenges they faced and the
particular circumstances and the concerns that were dealing with.
This is in fact the nature of the message of Islam, which by virtue of
its eternal nature, necessitates the emergence of reformers who reinterpret the sources in light of new situations. The cultural life in
the seventh and eighth centuries was characterised by the
In the field of Fiqh, taqlid of the four madhahib among Sunnis
was predominant. The work of jurist was mostly restricted to writing
commentaries and summaries of previous works and defending the
madhab against its rivals, with the rivalry aggravated when a ruler
adopted or became biased towards one of them, favouring its
scholars. Ibn Taymiyyah had a Hanbali upbringing and a great

admiration for Imam Ahmad. Nevertheless, he was a free

thinker, only convinced by authentic texts and the example
of the companions and their successors. Thus, he had
ijtihads and opinions that were not only different from those
of his madhab, but of all four madhahib, displaying great
courage and breaking the rigidity of taqlid. This audacity
brought him a lot of problems, casting upon him the wrath
of scholars and their followers in defense of taqlid.
Tasawwuf was predominant in the field of Tarbiyyah, and part of it
was plagued with creeds of wihdat-ul-wujud [monism], hulul
[incarnationism] and jabar [fatalism]. Ibn Taymiyyah opposed
those creeds and the consequent disregard for commands and
prohibitions, and alliance with despotic rulers and invaders. He
opposed deviant innovations that had crept into tasawwuf
including a monasticism, which he viewed as alien to Islam
imported from Christianity [itself influenced by Hellenic
philosophy] that glorified poverty and weakness. The
divisions between various schools of thought and tasawwuf that
further fragmented society particularly the states support of
some at the expense of others, and the emergence of a class
resembling the infallible clergy. These deviations reduced Islam
to a ritualistic fatalistic monasticism that stripped Islam of
its social and political dimensions.
Despite Ibn Taymiyyahs perceived hostility to tasawwuf because of
that virulent criticism, he did not generalize his judgment but rather
distinguished between authentic and deviant trends in tasawwuf. He
often praised the early Shuyukh of tasawwuf such as AlJunaid and Al-Kaylani, while criticising the philosophical
mysticism of Al-Hallaj, Ibn Arabi, Ibn Sabeen, Al-Naqawi and
others. He criticised some practices that contradicted the Sunnah,
and the alliance of some with the Tatars, Crusaders and
despotic rulers. Ibn Taymiyyah belonged to the Sufi order of the
Qadiriyyah, named after the Hanbali Sufi Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani,
whom he praised and wrote a partial commentary on his Sharh
Futuh al-Ghayb.
Thus, the concerns and challenges of the time were incorporated
into and influenced the work of Ibn Taymiyyah. The wealth of
writings left by him represent the fruits of his long experience and
vast knowledge, and an attempt to comprehend the culture of his
time and weigh it using the scales of Shar which for him includes
the manqul [revealed] as well as the maqul [rational], using a sharp
mind and a heart full of the love of Allah, His messenger (s), and the
early generations. His conclusion was that the Ummah had deviated
from its original nature, and he and other reformers identified
the distance between the Ummah and Islam as the true
explanation of the Ummahs decline, backwardness and

submission to other nations. He began a project of

comprehensive reform under the principle of the saying by Imam
Malik, the latter generations of this Ummah will not succeed except
by that which made its first generation successful.
He opposed the methodology of the theologians and philosophers
using that of the Salaf, which makes Shariah the judge over the
mind rather than judged by it, while holding that there is no real
contradiction between the two. He opposed the rigidity of the
scholars by calling for Ijtihad and viewing matters of differences in
the light of the Quran and Sunnah. He opposed the creeds of
hulul and wihdat-ul-wujud by calling for the creed of the
Salaf, and the resulting methodology of tarbiyyah and suluk by
calling for the prophetic methodology of Tarbiyyah, based on Taqwa
and jihad. He opposed the rulers despotism and negligence of the
responsibilities towards society, by calling for a governance
based on consultation between the ruler and the ruled and
the proptection of the peoples interests through the states
interference in economic life to protect the poor sectors and
imposing supervision and control of distribution and prices, as
detailed in his book Al-Hisbah.
Despite the above, Ibn Taymiyyah did not wish to call for division.
He sought to revive and invigorate the Ummah rulers, scholars,
and the masses. He did not only do so through his words he would
often go directly to the rulers to convey the peoples complaints and
demands, and when it was required, he fought against the invaders
and politically contributed to the solution of the problem of war
prisoners. The military and civilisational external challenges, as well
as the internal crisis should be taken into account when attempting
to understand thus great reformer. The multiple crises put the
Ummah in a position of defense, in need of emphasizing its distinct
character, rather than searching for what is common. Seeing it in its
context reveals that Ibn taymiyyahs project was a positive response
to the challenges and priorities of his time.
However, his call came at a time when the Ummah was in a sate of
deep decline and his call disturbed their slumber. Instead of
considering his call, the leaders of the Ummah violently rushed to
silence it. He was tried in a series of trials, which in reality were
not a trial for him as a person but a trial for the renaissance he
heralded, and the judges were not the Maliki or Shafi scholars but
the age of decline. His ordeals were written about extensively by his
Shafi disciples al-Birzali, al-Dhahabi, and Ibn Kathir, and by the
other Hanbali bibliographer Ibn Rajab. However, his prison was, as
he wrote, a blessing adding the honour of amal to that of ilm, and
the crown of jihad to that of Ijtihad.

The biographers cite a number of statements made by Ibn

Taymiyyah during his imprisonment that show his sate of mind,
such as what can my enemies possibly to do me? My paradise is
on my breast; wherever I go it goes with me, inseparable
from me. For me, prison is place of retreat; execution is my
opportunity for martyrdom; and exile from my town is but a
chance to travel.
Three months before his death, his chief opponent al-Ikhnai, against
whom he had written a refutation, complained to the sultan, who
ordered that Ibn Taymiyyah be deprived of the opportunity to write;
his ink, pen, and paper were taken away from him. On 20 Dhul
Qadah 728 [26 Sept 1328] Ibn Taymiyyah died in prison at the age
of sixty-five. According Ibn Kathir, a train of 60,000 to 100,000
people, of which at least 15,000 were women, joined the funeral
Al-Hafidh Al-Mizzi said, I did not see anyone like him, nor did he
see anyone like himself, and I did not see anyone more
knowledgeable of the book of Allah and Sunnah of His prophet nor
more adherent to them than him.
List of works
Ibn Taymiyya (1263-1328) Mas'ala fi al-'aql wa al-nafs (Concerning
the Matter of the Intellect and the Soul), in A.A.M. Qasim and M.A.A.
Qasim (eds) Majmu' fatawa Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyya, vol. 9,
Riyad: Matba'ah al-Hukama, 1996. (This is a short essay in which Ibn
Taymiyya summarizes his views on the relationship between the
intellect and the soul.)
Ibn Taymiyya---- (1263-1328) al-'Ubudiyya fi al-Islam (The Concept
of Worship in Islam), Cairo: al-Matba'ah al-Salafiyya. (This is one of
Ibn Taymiyya's most important statements concerning issues of faith
and belief in Islam. He speaks extensively on matters of
predestination, love for God and Sufi concepts of the annihilation of
the soul.)
---- (1263-1328) al-Jawab al-sahih li-man baddala din al-masah (The
Correct Answer to the One Who Changed the Religion of the
Messiah), trans. T.F. Michel, A Muslim Theologian's Response to
Christianity, Delmar, NY: Caravan Books, 1984. (This is an abridged
translation, with an excellent introduction to Ibn Taymiyya's
polemics against various groups and an extensive bibliography.)
References and further reading
Bell, J.N. (1979) Love Theory in Later Hanbalite Islam, Albany, NY:
State University of New York Press. (This work investigates the role

of love in the thinking of Hanbali scholars and shows how they

defined it in opposition to philosophers and mystics.)
Hallaq, W.B. (1993) Ibn Taymiyya against the Greek Logicians,
Oxford: Clarendon Press. (An excellent translation of Ibn Taymiyya's
most important arguments against Greek logic. The introduction and
notes give depth and perspective to this very difficult topic. It also
contains an extensive bibliography.)
Izutsu Toshihiko (1965) The Concept of Belief in Islamic Theology: A
Semantic Analysis of Iman and Islam, Yokohama: Yurindo Publishing
Company. (Although this work focuses on the concept of belief in
early Islam, the author makes extensive use of Ibn Taymiyya's
theories to explain how orthodox scholars came to understand this
Pavlin, J. (1996) 'Sunni Kalam and Theological Controversies', in S.H.
Nasr and O. Leaman (eds) History of Islamic Philosophy, London:
Routledge, ch. 7, 105-18. (Includes a discussion of Ibn Taymiyya's

IBN TAYMIYYA, A Brief Survey

by Dr. G.F. Haddad (,
6. 9. 2014)
Ahmad ibn `Abd al-Halim ibn `Abd Allah ibn Abi al-Qasim ibn
Taymiyya, Taqi al-Din Abu al-`Abbas ibn Shihab al-Din ibn Majd alDin al-Harrani al-Dimashqi al-Hanbali (661-728). The most influential
scholar of the late Hanbali school, praised by the hadith master
Salah al-Din al-`Ala'i as "Our shaykh, master, and imam between us
and Allah 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 Imam and faithful servant of his Lord, the doctor in the
Religion, the Ocean, the light-giving Pole of spirituality, the leader of
imams, 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-Islam..."
A student of Ibn `Abd al-Da'im, al-Qasim al-Irbili, Ibn `Allan, Ibn Abi
`Amr al-Fakhr, Ibn Taymiyya mostly read by himself until he
achieved great learning. He taught, authored books, gave formal
legal opinions, and generally distinguished himself for his quick wit
and photographic memory. Among his most brilliant students were

Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, al-Dhahabi, Ibn Kathir, and Yusuf ibn `Abd
al-Hadi. His opinions and manner created intense controversy both
in his life and after his death, to the point that scholars were divided
into those who loved him and those who did not. An illustration of
this is the fact that the Shafi`i hadith master al-Mizzi did not
call anyone else Shaykh al-Islam in his time besides Ibn
Taymiyya; yet the Hanafi scholar `Ala' al-Din al-Bukhari
issued a fatwa whereby anyone who called Ibn Taymiyya Shaykh
al-Islam commited disbelief.1 In Bayan Zaghl al-`Ilm al-Dhahabi
states: "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` fadil muhaqqiq bari`)."2
First Incident of Tashbih
His first clash with the scholars occurred in 698 in Damascus when
he was temporarily barred from teaching after he issued his Fatwa
Hamawiyya. In this epistle he unambiguously attributes literal
upward direction to Allah Almighty. He was refuted by his
contemporary, the imam and mufti of Aleppo then Damascus Ibn
Jahbal al-Kilabi (d. 733), in a lengthy reply which Taj al-Din al-Subki
reproduced in full in his Tabaqat al-Shafi`iyya al-Kubra. Ibn Taymiyya
then returned to his activities until he was summoned by the
authorities again in 705 to answer for his `Aqida Wasitiyya. He spent
the few following years in and out of jail or defending himself from
various "abhorrent charges" according to Ibn Hajar. 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 Imam Taqi al-Din alHusni's Daf` Shubah Man Shabbaha wa Tamarrad wa Nasaba
Dhalika ila al-Sayyid al-Jalil al-Imam Ahmad ("Repelling the
Sophistries of the Rebel who Likens Allah to Creation, Then
Attributes This Doctrine to Imam Ahmad").3
Ibn Taymiyya at various times declared himself a follower of
the Shafi`i school - as did many Hanbalis in Damascus - and an
Ibn Hajar wrote in al-Durar al-Kamina:
An investigation [of his views] was conducted with
several scholars [in Cairo] and a written statement was
drawn in which he said: "I am Ash`ari." His handwriting
is found with what he wrote verbatim, namely: "I believe
that the Qur'an is a meaning which exists in Allah's
Entity, and that it is an Attribute from the pre-eternal

Attributes of His Entity, and that it is uncreated, and that

it does not consist in the letter nor the voice, and that
His saying: "The Merciful established Himself over the
Throne" (20:4) is not taken according to its literal
meaning (laysa `ala zahirihi), and I don't know in what
consists its meaning, nay only Allah knows it, and one
speaks of His 'descent' in the same way as one speaks
of His 'establishment.'"
It was written by Ahmad ibn Taymiyya and they
witnessed over him that he had repented of his own free
will from all that contravened the above. This took place
on the 25th of Rabi` al-Awwal 707 and it was witnessed
by a huge array of scholars and others.4
The Hanbali scholar Najm al-Din Sulayman ibn `Abd alQawi al-Tufi said:5
He used to bring up in one hour from the Book, the
Sunna, the Arabic language, and philosophical
speculation, material which no-one could bring up even
in many sessions, as if these sciences were before his
very eyes and he was picking and choosing from them
at will. A time came when his companions took to overpraising him and this drove him to be satisfied
with himself until he became conceited before his
fellow human beings. He became convinced that he was
a scholar capable of independent reasoning (mujtahid).
Henceforth he began to answer each and every scholar
great and small, past and recent, until he went all the
way back to `Umar (r) and faulted him in some matter.
This reached the ears of the Shaykh Ibrahim al-Raqi who
reprimanded him. Ibn Taymiyya went to see him,
apologized, and asked for forgiveness. He also spoke
against `Ali (r) and said: "He made mistakes in
seventeen different matters."... Because of his fanatic
support of the Hanbali school he would attack
Ash'aris until he started to insult al-Ghazzali, at
which point some people opposed him and would almost
kill him.... They ascertained that he had blurted out
certain words, concerning doctrine, which came out of
his mouth in the context of his sermons and legal
pronouncements, and they mentioned that he had cited
the tradition of Allah's descent (to the nearest heaven),
then climbed down two steps from the minbar and said:
"Just like this descent of mine" and so was categorized
as an anthropomorphist. They also cited his refutation of
whoever uses the Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him -as a means or seeks help from him (aw istaghatha)....

People were divided into parties because of him. Some

considered him an anthropomorphist because of
what he mentioned in al-`Aqida al-Hamawiyya and al`Aqida al-Wasitiyya and other books of his, to the
effect that the hand, foot, shin, and face are
litteral attributes of Allah and that He is
established upon the Throne with His Essence. It
was said to him that were this the case He would
necessarily be subject to spatial confinement (altahayyuz) and divisibility (al-inqisam). He replied: "I do
not concede that spatial confinement and divisibility are
(necessarily) properties of bodies," whereupon it was
adduced against him (ulzima) that he held Allah's
Essence to be subject to spatial confinement.
Others considered him a heretic (zindiq) due to
his saying that the Prophet -- Allah bless and greet
him -- is not to be sought for help and the fact that
this amounted to diminishing and impeding the
establishing of the greatness of the Prophet -- Allah
bless and greet him -- .... Others considered him a
dissimulator (munafiq) because of what he said about
`Ali:... namely, that he had been forsaken everywhere
he went, had repeatedly tried to acquire the caliphate
and never attained it, fought out of lust for power rather
than religion, and said that "he loved authority
while `Uthman loved money." He would say that Abu
Bakr had declared Islam in his old age, fully aware of
what he said, while `Ali had declared Islam as a boy, and
the boy's Islam is not considered sound upon his mere
word.... In sum he said ugly things such as these, and it
was said against him that he was a hypocrite, in
view of the Prophet's -- Allah bless and greet him -saying (to `Ali): "None but a hypocrite has hatred for
Another reason why Ibn Taymiyya was opposed was his criticism of
Sufis, particularly Shaykh Muhyi al-Din Ibn `Arabi, although he
described himself, in his letter to Abu al-Fath Nasr al-Munayji, as a
former admirer of the Shaykh al-Akbar:
I was one of those who, previously, used to hold the best
opinion of Ibn `Arabi and extol his praise, because of the
benefits I saw in his books, such as what he said in
many of his books, for example: al-Futuhat, al-Kanh, alMuhkam al-Marbut, al-Durra al-Fakhira, Matali` alNujum, and other such works.7
According to Ibn `Abd al-Hadi, Ibn Taymiyya also declared himself a
follower of several Sufi orders, among them the Qadiri path of

Shaykh `Abd al-Qadir al-Gilani.8 In al-Mas'ala al-Tabriziyya Ibn

Taymiyya declares: "Labistu al-khirqa al-mubaraka li al-Shaykh `Abd
al-Qadir wa bayni wa baynahu ithnan - I wore the blessed Sufi cloak
of `Abd al-Qadir, there being between him and me two shaykhs."9

Further Heresy
Further charges of heresy were brought against Ibn Taymiyya for his
assertion that a divorce pronounced in innovative fashion does not
take effect, against the consensus of the scholars which stipulated
that it does, though innovative. After spending the years 719-721 in
jail, he was jailed again in 726 until his death two years leater for
declaring that one who travels to visit the Prophet commits
innovation. His burial was attended by about 50,000 people.
His student al-Dhahabi praised him lavishly as "the brilliant shaykh,
imam, erudite scholar, censor, jurist, mujtahid, and commentator of
the Qur'an," but acknowledged that Ibn Taymiyya's disparaging
manners alienated even his admirers. For example, the grammarian
Abu Hayyan praised Ibn Taymiyya until he found out that he
believed himself a greater expert in the Arabic language than
Sibawayh, whereupon he disassociated himself from his previous
praise. Other former admirers turned critics were the qadi alZamalkani and al-Dhahabi himself, in whose al-Nasiha alDhahabiyya he addresses Ibn Taymiyya with the words: "When will
you stop criticizing the scholars and finding fault with the people?"
Dr. al-Buti pointed out that although Ibn Taymiyya blamed alGhazzali and other Ash`ari scholars for involving themselves
in philosophical or dialectical disputations, yet he went
much further than most into kalam and philosophy. This is
shown by his books in kalam and philosophy, most notably by his
positions in al-Radd `ala al-Mantiqiyyin ("Against the Logicians") on
the "generic beginninglessness" of created matters and Aristotelian
causality (al-`illa al-aristiyya).10 Al-Dhahabi 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!"11
Ibn Hajar al-Haytami on Ibn Taymiyya
Al-Haytami wrote in his Fatawa Hadithiyya:
Ibn Taymiyya is a servant which Allah forsook,
misguided, blinded, deafened, and debased. That is the
declaration of the imams who have exposed the

corruption of his positions and the mendacity of his

sayings. Whoever wishes to pursue this must read the
words of the mujtahid imam Abu al-Hasan (Taqi al-Din)
al-Subki, of his son Taj al-Din Subki, of the Imam al-`Izz
ibn Jama`a and others of the Shafi`i, Maliki, and Hanafi
shaykhs... It must be considered that he is a misguided
and misguiding innovator (mubtadi` dall mudill) and an
ignorant who brought evil (jahilun ghalun) whom Allah
treated with His justice. May He protect us from the likes
of his path, doctrine, and actions!... Know that he has
differed from people on questions about which Taj al-Din
Ibn al-Subki and others warned us. Among the things Ibn
Taymiyya said which violate the scholarly consensus are:
1. that whoso violates the consensus commits neither
disbelief (kufr) nor grave transgression (fisq);
2. that our Lord is subject to created events (mahallun li alhawadith) - glorified, exalted, and sanctified is He far
above what the depraved ascribe to Him!
3. that He is complex or made of parts (murakkab),
His Entity standing in need similarly to the way the
whole stands in need of the parts, elevated is He and
sanctified above that!
4. that the Qur'an is created in Allah's Entity (muhdath fi
dhatillah), elevated is He above that!
5. that the world is of a pre-eternal nature and
exists with Allah since pre-eternity as an "everabiding created object" (makhluqan da'iman), thus
making it necessarily existent in His Entity
(mujaban bi al-dhat) and not acting
deliberately[GH1] (la fa`ilan bi al-ikhtyar), elevated is
He above that!12
6. his suggestions of Allah's corporeality, direction,
displacement, (al-jismiyya wa al-jiha wa al-intiqal), 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!
7. his saying that the fire shall go out (al-nar tafni),13
8. and that Prophets are not sinless (al-anbiya' ghayr
9. and that the Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him -has no special status before Allah (la jaha lahu) and
must not be used as a means (la yutawassalu bihi),14
and that the undertaking of travel (al-safar) to the
Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him -- in order to
perform his visitation is a sin, for which it is unlawful to
shorten the prayers,15 and that it is forbidden to ask for
his intercession in view of the Day of Need,

and that the words (alfaz) of the Torah and the
Gospel were not substituted, but their meanings
(ma`ani) 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 Allah 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 Allah's
corporeality (jismiyya), dimensionality (muhadhat),
and settledness (istiqrar)." 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 imams of Islam 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 Allah will deal with him with His
justice, and other than that He will forgive us and

Imam al-Kawthari on Ibn Taymiyya

Imam Muhammad Zahid al-Kawthari stated in strong terms that Ibn
Taymiyya's position on Allah's attributes is tantamount to disbelief
and apostasy because it reduces Allah to a corporeal body. He states
in his Maqalat:
In al-Ta'sis fi Radd Asas al-Taqdis ("The Laying of the
Foundation: A Refutation of al-Razi's "The Foundation of
Allah's Sanctification") Ibn Taymiyya says: "Al-`arsh (the
throne) in language means al-sarir (elevated seat or
couch), so named with respect to what is on top of it,
just as the roof is so named with respect to what is
under it. Therefore, if the Qur'an attributes a throne to
Allah, it is then known that this throne is, with respect to
Allah, like the elevated seat is with respect to other than
Allah. This makes it necessarily true that He is on top of
the throne." So then the throne is, for Ibn Taymiyya,
Allah's seat (maq`ad)- Exalted is He from such a notion!

He also says: "It is well-known that the Book, the

Sunna, and the Consensus nowhere say that all
bodies (ajsam) are created, and nowhere say that
Allah Himself is not a body. None of the imams 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 Shari`a." These words are complete
impudence. What did he do with all the verses
declaring Allah 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 Allah the Exalted
said: "There is nothing whatsoever like Him"
(42:11)? Or does he consider it permissible for
someone to say: Allah eats this, chews that, and
tastes the other thing, just because no text mentions
the opposite? This is disbelief laid bare and pure
In another passage of the same book he says: "You
[Ash`aris] say that He is neither a body, nor an
atom (jawhar), nor spatially bounded
(mutahayyiz), 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 Allah is neither divisible nor
made of parts and that He has neither limit (hadd) nor
end (ghaya), 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?"16 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 a Muslim society?
In another place of the same book he says: "It is
obligatorily known that Allah did not mean by the
name of "the One" (al-Wahid) 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

In another book of his, Muwafaqa al-Ma`qul, which is in
the margin of his Minhaj, Ibn Taymiyya asserts that
things occur newly in relation to Allah and that He has a
direction according to two kinds of conjecture .17 And you
know, O reader, what the Imams say concerning him
who deliberately and intently establishes that Allah 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 Allah, 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 "generic beginninglessness"
(al-qidam al-naw`i).18
Ibn Taymiyya's Two Tawhids
Also among Ibn Taymiyya's controversies in kalam was his
division of tawhid into two types: tawhid al-rububiyya and
tawhid al-uluhiyya, respectively, Oneness of Lordship and
Oneness of Godhead.19 The first, he said, consisted in the
acknowledgment of Allah as the Creator of all, a belief shared
by believers and non-believers alike. The second was the
affirmation of Allah as the one true deity and only object of worship,
a belief exclusive to believers. His natural conclusion was that
"whoever does not know tawhid al-uluhiyya, his knowledge of
tawhid al-rububiyya is not taken into account because the idolaters
also had such knowledge." He then compared the scholars of kalam
to the Arab idol-worshippers who accepted tawhid al-rububiyya but
ignored tawhid al-uluhiyya. This dialectic was adopted by Ibn Abi al`Izz in his commentary on al-Tahawi's `Aqida.20
Abu Hamid Ibn Marzuq wrote:
Tawhid al-rububiyya and tawhid al-uluhiyya were
invented by Ibn Taymiyya who claimed that all Muslims
among the mutakallimun worshipped other than Allah
due to their ignorance of tawhid al-uluhiyya; he claimed
that the only tawhid they knew was tawhid al-rububiyya.
The latter consists in affirming that Allah is the Creator
of all things, as, he says, the polytheists conceded. He
then declared all Muslims to be unbelievers. Muhammad
ibn Abd al-Wahhab imitated him in this, and others
imitated Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab. The late erudite
scholar al-Sayyid Ahmad ibn Zayni Dahlan (d. 1304)
looked into this matter in a small section of his treatise
al-Durar al-Saniyya fi al-Radd `ala al-Wahhabiyya ("The

Resplendent Pearls in Refuting the Wahhabis"). So did

the savant al-Shaykh Ibrahim al-Samnudi al-Mansuri (d.
1314) who spoke excellently in his book Sa`ada alDarayn fi al-Radd `ala al-Firqatayn al-Wahhabiyya wa alZahiriyya ("The Bliss of the Two Abodes in the Refutation
of the Two Sects: Wahhabis and Zahiris"). The late
erudite scholar al-Shaykh Salama al-`Azzami (d. 1376)
also wrote valuable words about it in his book al-Barahin
al-Sati`a fi Radd Ba`d al-Bida` al-Sha'i`a ("The Radiant
Proofs in Refuting Some Widespread Innovations")...
Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal... never said that tawhid
consisted in two parts, one being tawhid al-rububiyya
and the other tawhid al-uluhiyya. Nor did he ever say
that "whoever does not know tawhid al-uluhiyya, his
knowledge of tawhid al-rububiyya 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 -- Allah bless and greet him -- ever said that
tawhid consisted in two parts, one being tawhid alrububiyya and the other tawhid al-uluhiyya, nor did any
of them ever say that "whoever does not know tawhid
al-uluhiyya, his knowledge of tawhid al-rububiyya is not
taken into account because the idolaters also had such
knowledge."... Nowhere in the extensive Sunna of
the Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him -- ... is it related
that the Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him -- ever said
or ever taught his Companions that tawhid consists in
two parts, one being tawhid al-rububiyya and the other
tawhid al-uluhiyya, nor that "whoever does not know
tawhid al-uluhiyya, his knowledge of tawhid alrububiyya is not taken into account because the
idolaters also had such knowledge." If mankind and jinn
joined together to establish that the Prophet -- Allah
bless and greet him -- ever said such a thing, even with
an inauthentic chain of transmission, they would not
The books of the Sunna of the Prophet -- Allah bless and
greet him -- overflow with the fact that the call of the
Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him -- to the people unto
Allah was in order that they witness that there is no God
except Allah alone and that Muhammad is the
Messenger of Allah, and in order that they repudiate
idol-worship. One of the most famous illustrations of this
is the narration of Mu`adh ibn Jabal when the Prophet -Allah bless and greet him -- sent him to Yemen and said
to him: "Invite them to the testimony that there is no

God but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of

Allah...." And it is narrated in five of the six books of
authentic traditions, and Ibn Hibban declared it sound,
that a beduin Arab reported the sighting of the new
moon to the Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him -- 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 -- Allah bless and greet
him -- to call all people to the tawhid al-uluhiyya of
which they were ignorant - since tawhid al-rububiyya
they knew already - and he should have said to Mu`adh:
"Invite them to tawhid al-uluhiyya"; and he should have
asked the beduin who had sighted the new moon of
Ramadan: "Do you know tawhid al-uluhiyya?"
Finally, in His precious Book which falsehood cannot
approach whether from the front or from the back, Allah
never ordered tawhid al-uluhiyya to His servants, nor did
He ever say that "whoever does not know this tawhid,
his knowledge of tawhid al-rububiyya is not taken into
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 doctrine. For example:
1. His report of Ibn Batta's narration whereby Hammad 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? (yatahawwalu min makan ila
makan?)" Hammad replied: "He Himself is in His place, and He
comes near His creation in the way that He likes (huwa fi
makanihi yaqrabu min khalqihi kayfa sha')."22
2. His report from Ishaq ibn Rahawayh's words to the Emir `Abd
Allah ibn Tahir: "He is able to descend without the Throne
being vacant of Him" (yaqdiru an yanzila min ghayri an
yakhlua al-`arshu minhu).23
3. His report from Abu `Umar al-Talmanki's book al-Wusul ila
Ma`rifa al-Usul: "Ahl al-Sunna wa al-Jama`a are in agreement
(muttafiqun) that Allah established Himself in person (bi
dhatihi) on the Throne."24 Note that Ibn Taymiyya quotes
inaccurately, as al-Dhahabi quotes from the same book the
following passage: "The Muslims of Ahl al-Sunna wa al-Jama`a
have reached consensus (ajma`[u]) that Allah is above the
heavens in person (bi dhatihi) and is established over His
Throne in the mode that He pleases (kayfa sha')."25 Both

assertions are of course false as no such consensus exists,

and the position of Ahl al-Sunna is that whoever
attributes direction to Allah commits apostasy.
4. His statements: "Allah's elevation over the throne is literal,
and the servant's elevation over the ship is literal" (lillahi
ta`ala istiwa'un `ala `arshihi haqiqatan wa li al-`abdi istiwa'un
`ala al-fulki haqiqatan).26 "Allah is with us literally, and He is
above His throne literally (Allahu ma`ana haqiqatan wa huwa
fawqa al-`arshi haqiqatan). . . . Allah is with His creation
literally and He is above His Throne literally (Allahu ma`a
khalqihi haqiqatan wa huwa fawqa al-`arshi haqiqatan)."27
The above statements corroborate Ibn Hajar's reports whereby he
once climbed down the minbar in purported illustration of Allah's
descent to the nearest heaven.
The writings and notoriety of Ibn Taymiyya were by and
large forgotten until the "Salafi" movement revived them
through the publishing efforts of the Wahabi Gulf states
from the 1930s to our day.
al-Dhahabi, Tadhkira al-Huffaz 4:1496 #1177.
Ibn Kathir, al-Bidaya wa al-Nihaya 14:5, 14:42-48.
Ibn Hajar, al-Durar al-Kamina 1:144-160 #409.
al-Haytami, Fatawa Hadithiyya.
al-Kawthari, Maqalat.

Cf. Hajji Khalifa, Kashf al-Zunun (1:838).

Cited in al-Sakhawi, al-I`lan (p. 78).
Published in Cairo at Dar Ihya' al-Kutub al-`Arabiyya, 1931.
The names of the scholars who counter-signed Ibn Taymiyya's deposition are
listed by al-Kawthari in his notes to Ibn al-Subki's al-Sayf al-Saqil (p. 95-96).
In Ibn Hajar's al-Durar al-Kamina (1:153-155).
Narrated from `Ali by Muslim, al-Tirmidhi, al-Nasa'i, and Ahmad.
Ibn Taymiyya, Tawhid al-Rububiyya in Majmu`a al-Fatawa (2:464-465).
See George Makdisi, "L'isnad initiatique soufi de Muwaffaq ad-Din ibn Qudama,"
in Cahiers de l'Herne: Louis Massignon (Paris: Editions de l'Herne, 1970) p. 88-96;
"Ibn Taimiya: A Sufi of the Qadiriya Order," in American Journal of Arabic Studies I
(Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1974) p. 118-129; "The Hanbali School and Sufism," in Boletin
de la Asociacion Espanola de Orientalistas 15 (Madrid, 1979) p. 115-126. Based on
Ibn `Abd al-Hadi, Bad' al-`Ilqa bi Labs al-Khirqa, ms. al-Hadi, Princeton Library
Arabic Collection, fos 154a, 169b, 171b-172a; and Damascus University, copy of
original Arabic manuscript, 985H.; also mentioned in al-Talyani, manuscript
Chester Beatty 3296 (8) in Dublin, fo 67a.
Ms. Damascus, Zahiriyya #1186 H.
Cf. al-Buti, al-Salafiyya (p. 164-175). See our translation of Ibn Khafif's `Aqida
41 ("Things do not act of their own nature...") and note.
Al-Dhahabi, al-Nasiha al-Dhahabiyya, in the margin of his Bayan Zaghl al-`Ilm wa
al-Talab, ed. al-Kawthari (Damascus: Qudsi, 1928-1929); also in Shaykh al-Islam
Ibn Taymiyya, Siratuhu wa Akhbaruhu `inda al-Mu'arrikhin, ed. Salah al-Din al2

Munajjid (Beirut: Dar al-Kitab al-`Arabi, 1976) p. 11-14. See n. 1715.

This is mentioned about Ibn Taymiyya also by Ibn Hajar in Fath al-Bari (1959 ed.
13:411). This doctrine was refuted by Muhammad ibn Isma`il al-San`ani in his
Risala Sharifa fi ma Yata`allaqu bi Kam al-Baqi Min `Umr al-Dunya? (Precious
Treatise Concerning the Remaining Age of the World") ed. al-Wasabi al-Mathani.
(San`a': Maktaba Dar al-Quds, 1992).
This doctrine was refuted by Muhammad ibn Isma`il al-San`ani in his Raf` alAstar li-Ibtal Adilla al-Qa'ilin bi-Fana al-Nar ("Exposing the Nullity of the Proofs of
Those Who Claim That the Fire Shall Pass Away"), ed. Albani (Beirut: al-Maktab alIslami, 1984).
This is explicitly contradicted by the vast majority of scholars, including Ibn
Taymiyya's own students Ibn al-Qayyim (cf. al-Nuniyya, section on tawassul) and
al-Dhahabi, as well as al-Shawkani and countless others. See the volume on
tawassul in Shaykh Hisham Kabbani's Encyclopedia of Islamic Doctrine.
Ibn Hajar says in Fath al-Bari about Ibn Taymiyya's prohibition to travel in order
to visit the Prophet: "This is one of the ugliest matters ever reported from Ibn
Taymiyya." In his notes on Fath al-Bari (1989 ed. 3:66) the late "Salafi" scholar Bin
Baz comments: "This was not an ugly thing but a correct thing for Ibn Taymiyya to
Ibn Taymiyya, al-Ta'sis (1:101). Compare to Imam Malik's statement: "He is
neither ascribed a limit nor likened with anything" (l yuhaddad wa l yushabbah).
Ibn al-`Arabi said after citing it in Ahkam al-Qur'an (4:1740): "This is a pinnacle of
tawhd in which no Muslim preceded Malik."
Ibn Taymiyya, Muwafaqa al-Ma`qul on the margins of Minhaj al-Sunna (2:75,
1:264, 2:13, 2:26). The Muwafaqa was republished under the title Dar' Ta`arud al`Aqli wa al-Naql.
Al-Kawthari, Maqalat (p. 350-353).
In his Fatawa (1:219, 2:275); Minhaj al-Sunna (2: 62); Risala Ahl al-Suffa (p.34).
But by no other commentator of the same text. See the commentaries on the
Tahawiyya by Hasan al-Busnawi (d. 1024), al-Maydani, al-Bajuri, al-Saqqaf, and
others. Al-Busnawi does follow Ibn Abi al-`Izz in other matters.
Ibn Marzuq, Bara'a al-Ash`ariyyin Min `Aqa'id al-Mukhalifin (1:89, 1:94f.) Chapter
reprinted in Ibn Marzuq, al-Tawassul bi al-Nabi (s) wa al-Salihin (Istanbul: Hakikat
Kitabevi, 1993) p. 25-101. Cf. Shaykh Hasan `Ali al-Saqqaf's al-Tandid bi man
`Addada al-Tawhid ("Punishment of Him Who Counts Several Tawhds").
Ibn Taymiyya, Majmu`a al-Fatawa (5:376). Narrated with its chain by al-Dhahabi
in the Siyar (8:213, chapter of Bishr ibn al-Siriy).
Ibn Taymiyya, Majmu`a al-Fatawa (5:376-377). Also narrated by al-Dhahabi with
a sound chain according to al-Albani in Mukhtasar al-`Uluw (p. 192 #235).
However, al-Bayhaqi in al-Asma' wa al-Sifat (al-Asma' wa al-Sifat, ed. Kawthari p.
451-452; al-Asma' wa al-Sifat, Hashidi ed. 2:375-377 #950-953) narrates the
reports of Ishaq's encounter with the Emir `Abd Allah ibn Tahir with five chains
(three of them sound according to al-Hashidi), none of which mentioning the
words "without the Throne being vacant of Him." This apparent interpolation is
nevertheless the foundation of Ibn Taymiyya's position in Sharh Hadith al-Nuzul (p.
42-59) that Allah descends in person yet remains above the Throne in person.
That position has been characterized by Imam Abu Zahra as a dual assertion of
Allah's aboveness and belowness on the part of Ibn Taymiyya (see n. 456 and
711), although strenuously denied by Ibn Taymiyya himself in Minhaj al-Sunna
(2:248) and by al-Albani who defends the latter against Abu Zahra's conclusion in
his introduction to Mukhtasar al-`Uluw (p. 40-41, 192-193).
Ibid. (5:189).
Al-Dhahabi, Mukhtasar al-`Uluw (p. 264 #321). Al-Dhahabi criticizes these
assertions: see our May 1999 post entitled "Allah is now as He ever was," toward
the end.
Ibn Taymiyya, Majmu`a al-Fatawa (5:199)
Ibid. (5:103).

The Wahhabi Sect: in Middle Eastern History by Robert Dailey.
(, 6. 9. 2014)
(Some information for this article is based on "God's Terrorists: The Wahhabi Cult
and The Hidden Roots of Modern Jihad by Charles Allen, De Capo Press, 2006)
The Wahhabi sect of Islam, to which the royal family of Saudi
Arabia belongs, had its origins in the 13th century, but the cult
became refined in the 18 century.
The Wahhabis take their name from Abd Al-Wahhab, a sheikh
who lived in the early 18th century and taught a religious
fundamentalism named "The Call to Unity" (ad Dawa lil
Tawhid). This theology embraced absolute monotheism (a denial of
any pluralistic theologies such as the Christian concept of a Trinity).
It also declared that there was only one interpreter of the Quran (the
Holy Book of Islam) and the Hadith (narrations of the "lived
example" of the Prophet Muhammed). That interpreter was Abd AlWahhab himself.
Al Wahhab taught that true Muslims had to swear loyalty to their
religious leader and to follow his teachings in all ways. It also
required that those who wanted to be considered true Muslims
must join Al-Wahhab in jihad (in his interpretation of jihad as
a holy war.) The objective of this jihad was to convert or kill all
Muslims whom Al-Wahhab considered apostate, unbelievers and
blasphemers. Finally, Al Wahhab taught that members of this
new sect must hate all those Muslims who did not follow his
The actual seeds of Wahhabism came from a thirteenth
century sheikh, Ibn Taymiyya. During that period, many Sunni
Muslims were rankling under Mongol rule. Ibn Taymiyya named
himself as a mujtaheed, or one who, through enlightened reasoning,
could interpret the sharia, the path of Islam. He redefined Islam,

using a strict and literal interpretation of the Quran, and

ruled against any changes in this interpretation.
Now a religious leader, loved by some Muslims, hated by others, Ibn
Taymiyya was the first holy leader who interpreted jihad as a holy
He took two verses from the Quran and interpreted them to
mean total and ceaseless war against anyone who was in the
way of the destiny of Islam.
And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and
there prevail justice and faith in God; but if they cease, let there be
no hostility except to those who practice oppression.
-The Quran, Chapter 2, verse 193
The second verse is from Chaper 8 of the Quran:
And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and
there prevail justice and faith in God altogether and everywhere; but
if they cease, verily God doth see all that they do.
-The Quran, Chapter 8, verse 39
There were four enemies of Islam, according to Ibn Tamiyya:
1. Infidels (which included, presumably Christians, Jews and
pagans). He did approve of peaceful coexistence with the
infidels, eating with them, and even allowed Muslims to
marry infidel women. He also granted clemency to those
infidels captured in battle if they converted to Islam.
2. Muslims who had fallen away and must be fought and killed
if they did not return to the true path.
3. Muslims who said they were practicing the faith, but practiced
Islam improperly were to be killed without mercy.
4. People who had left Islam, but who still called themselves
Muslim. Ibn Taymiyya said that all these people should be
treated mercilessly and killed under all circumstances and
given no quarter.
At the time, many Muslims condemned Ibn Taymiyyas teachings.
Even today, Sunnis who belong to the much more moderate
mainstream still reject his theology.

Among the relatively small Wahhabi sect and in Saudi Arabia

particularly, Ibn Taymiyya is revered and honored, only second to Al
Wahhab himself.