By Imām Badr al-Dīn al-‘Aynī al-Hanafī
Translated by Shaykh Ismā’īl Ibrāhīm Patel
The author of the book “Al-Radd al-Wafir” has exerted tremendous labour in this uniquely outstanding piece of writing. The refutation of those who anathematise the scholars of Islam and its towering Imams and personalities, who have taken gardens of bounty as their final abode, and have sensed zephyrs of mercy from the Gracious Lord, is clarified in his dazzling array of words.
It is thus proven that those casting aspersions against any one of these scholars, or circulates incorrect information about them, is like the one who tries to blow in the sands or pluck from a thorny tree with his bare hands.
How can it even be permissible for one who identifies with Islam, and has even an iota of knowledge, understanding and an ability to make others understand, to anathematise those whose hearts are innocent and whose belief is not even close to those accusations?
However, one who does not put his personality through the mill would always think the sweet is bitter, just as a sick person. One nitpicking just because he is ignorant of something shows his true colours of enmity. Such a person is crookedly disordered in his discussions, and is nothing but like a coprocreep[v], dying a natural death by smelling a rose; or like an owl harmed by the brightness of light due to its poor eyesight. Such a person does not possess any analytical skills and is grossly lacking in foresight. These people are nothing but empty and barren mediocrities. Those anathematising these scholars are total unknowns, the sons of unknowns, and the weirdest of nonentities. They are spiritually foul, astray individuals and blind followers of deviance.
It is common knowledge that the Shaykh, the Imam, the scholar and the knowledgeable, Taqi ‘l-Din Ibn Taymiyyah, was amongst the outstanding class scholars and a model leader. He possessed linguistic banquets that replenished souls, and the best parts of prime discussions that shook deteriorated bodies. His temperament, which was suspended in the artistic ability that is free of all immaturity and repulsiveness, was a result of the ripe fruits borne for those with advanced thinking abilities.
Ibn Taymiyyah was the one who removed the veil from the faces of hidden meanings, and snatched away the gowns from virgin language structures. He was the one who warded off the suppositions of heretics and the sacrilegious. He was the one who assiduously analysed the narrations from the Prophet, the Leader of the Messengers, and the reports from the Companions and the Followers.[vi]
In a nutshell, anyone who says “He is a disbeliever” is truly a disbeliever himself, and the one who attributes heresy to him is himself a heretic. How can such an accusation stand up when we all know that his works have travelled beyond the horizons, and there is nothing therein denoting any deviation or dissent?
In the two issues of visiting the Prophet’s grave and divorce, his research was based only on legitimate independent reasoning. A scholar with independent reasoning either way is compensated and rewarded. There is nothing in his reasoning that is blameworthy or faulty.
However, the clear jealousy and blatant scheming from his enemies made them resort to the aforementioned accusations against him. The end of Surat ‘l-Falaq[vii] is damning enough for such jealous people – all while they are burning up from inside out of distress. Anyone who falsely accuses a person who has died, or associates someone with something they are free from, will have perpetrated a blatant and gross lie, making himself deserving of evil punishment.
Ibn Taymiyyah was the Imam, the superior, the masterful, the pious, the pure, the god-fearing, and the master in sciences of prophetic tradition, exegesis, law and jurisprudence in both their oral and written forms. He was the unstoppable scimitar against the innovators. He was the cleric upholding religious affairs, commanding good and forbidding evil. He was determined, brave, able to handle difficult and cumbersome situations. He was constantly engaged in remembrance, fasting, prayer and worship. In complete contentment, he was aloof of the comforts of this world with no desire for any of it.
Momentous events and marvellous occasions stand in his favour, all while he restrained himself from the firewood of the lowly world. He has celebrated written works and flawless edicts to his name.
Ibn ‘l-Zimlikani[viii] – may Allah have mercy on him – has written the following quatrain of poetry on a work by Ibn Taymiyyah:
When his attributes are far greater than could be encompassed?
He is the dominating evidence of Allah
He, amidst us, is the wonder of the era
Is the testimony of this scholar not enough for Ibn Taymiyyah? He referred to him as the Allah’s evidence in Islam. He claimed that it is not possible to encompass his praiseworthy characteristics, and one describing these for Ibn Taymiyyah is unable to count or tally them. Since he is depicted as such, why is it not permissible to refer to Ibn Taymiyyah as Shaykh ‘l-Islam or to utilise this honorific when mentioning him?
Furthermore, how valid is the disparagement of the one who is stubborn, plotting, and jealous? I wonder what proof this openly ignorant and arrogant person has, knowing full well that the word “Shaykh” has two meanings: linguistic and technical. The linguistic meaning is the one in whom elderliness has become apparent. The technical meaning is the one under whom studentship is accredited. Both meanings are present in Imam Ibn Taymiyyah: there is no doubt he was the teacher of a group of Islamic scholars and world-renowned jurists as were his students. Be this as it may, how can it not be said of him that he is Shaykh ‘l-Islam? By default, the one who is the Shaykh of the Muslims is, by extension, the Shaykh of Islam.
The great chief justices, the noble scholars and the pillars of Islam have explicitly used this title for him. They are the ones whom the compiler of “Al-Radd al-Wafir” has mentioned in his treatise. This book is truly original. Having mentioned this author, we are no longer in need to repeat the praises of Ibn Taymiyyah. Those coming across the book can ponder over it, and those looking in it can accept it.
As for the altercations of the Imam, there are multitudes of them and in numerous gatherings. Putting aside the deep-seated ills embedded as a result of in the fruits of enmity, it is submitted that no clear evidence has emerged in favour of his antagonists in what was claimed against him.
The most that happened was that he was unjustly and unfairly imprisoned, which in no sense is a fault or imperfection on the part of Ibn Taymiyyah. There have been those in amongst the greatest of the senior Followers who were murdered, jailed, imprisoned and publicly humiliated. Imam Abu Hanifah – may Allah be pleased with him – was imprisoned and died in that state; has any scholar ever said that he was rightfully imprisoned? Imam Ahmad was imprisoned and jailed when as he made the truthful statement. Imam Malik was severely lashed. Imam al-Shafi`i was transported from Yemen to Baghdad in shackles and bondage. It is not strange at all then that what transpired with those great Imams also occurred for Ibn Taymiyyah.
Ibn Taymiyyah’s final imprisonment was in the Citadel of Damascus. He passed away in the third part of the night of 20th Dhu ‘l-Qa`dah 728 A.H, close to the morning. His illness lasted for seventeen days. He was born on 10th Rabi` al-Awwal, 661 A.H., in Harran. He came to Damascus with his father.
His funeral prayer was performed by Shaykh Muhammad bin Tammam[x] at the gates of the Citadel. People repeated his funeral prayer in the Umayyad Mosque. He was then buried in the Sufis’ Cemetery, alongside his brother, Shaykh Sharaf ‘l-Din.[xi] The mosque was busier for his funeral prayer than on Fridays. Statesmen and chamberlains were in attendance. They lifted him above their heads and took him to the Gate of Faraj.[xii] People were lined up all the way from there to the Sufis’ Cemetery. They recited the Quran over his grave again and again. His disciples stayed by his grave for several nights. Imam Zayn ‘l-Din `Umar Ibn ‘l-Wardi – may Allah have mercy on him – eulogised him in a poem, part of which is as follows:
The same people who seek benefit from his ocean of pearls
Taqi ‘l-Din Ahmad is the finest scholar
Perforations of obscure matters are sown up through him
He died alone as a prisoner
He had no pleasure to gain from the world
Had they been there when he died, they would have found
The angels of bounty surrounding him
How great indeed is what the grave has embraced
And how great indeed is what its slabs have covered
They were jealous of him as they did not attain
His virtues, so they instead schemed against him and seared in rage
They were too idle to be anywhere close to being on his way
But they were very active in harming him
Imprisoning a pearl in a shell is a pearl’s honour
And for the Shaykh, there is delight in prison
He has achieved followership with the family of the Hashimite[xiv]
They too were subject to degradation but never gave in[xv]
He was an Imam who never sought after a post
Nor did he look for an endowment in his name or horses
He was not standing next to you to earn wealth
In fact, he never even mingled with you
To those who imprisoned him: Your motives will soon be laid bare
As well as your intentions when the Bridge is erected
So there you have it. He has died and you can rest
So you can share what you wanted to share all along
You can start doing your own independent reasoning without any fear of being refuted
On your part – that chapter has now closed
This Imam Zayn ‘l-Din was very knowledgeable and was a master of the sciences. He was excellent at both prose and poetry. He has wonderful poems and quality couplets. He was an expert in Arabic. He took up the posts of lecturer, repeater, and of passing edicts. He has beneficial works, such as committing “Al-Hawi al-Saghir”[xvii] into poetry form. He died in Aleppo, 749 A.H.
Athir ‘l-Din Abu Hayyan[xviii] – may Allah Most High have mercy on him – said in Ibn Taymiyyah’s regard:
Just as the leader of Taym[xix] stood up when Mudar transgressed[xx]
He uncovered the truth when its signs had long gone
He put out the evil when its sparks were flying, abound
We used to talk about a scholar who would come to us
You are the Imam who was long awaited
When a person like Imam Abu Hayyan testifies that he was the supporter of the law, the champion of the truth and the one putting an end to evil, and that he was the Imam they were waiting for, it is submitted that this is sufficiently enough for praise and as a point of reference.
As this Imam has the testimony of this knowledgeable person and other great scholars, what would materialise for those who attribute heresy to him or accuse him of disbelief? This would not but stem from an idiot, ignoramus or a buffoon. The first would be severely punished and paraded in humiliation; in fact, he would be imprisoned until he repents and completely desists from such behaviour. The second would be dealt with chains shackles, and a limitless beating.
All these accusations against Ibn Taymiyyah are amongst the corruption of this era, the sloppy attitude of politicians failing to uphold justice, command good, banish the corrupt, uproot the strength of the schemers, whereby any dimwit claiming to be a scholar can dishonour the scholars of the Muslims, especially those who were truthful and used to be fair and just, living by the truth.
Notwithstanding his great contribution to the sciences, there have also been Ibn Taymiyyah’s doubtless miracles reported on the tongues of large swathes of people.
There are also his quick, decisive and ever-ready answers, delivered without any pause or hesitation, no matter how difficult the questions were. He was once on his chair advising people in a large gathering when he was asked regarding a man claiming “There is nothing but Allah” and “Allah is in every place” – would this be considered a statement of disbelief or faith? Ibn Taymiyyah instantaneously replied:
“Whoever claims that Allah is in every place with His Essence opposes the Quran, the prophetic tradition, and the consensus of not only the Muslims but of all three religions. Rather, the Creator – exalted is He, the Most High – is separate from the creations. There is nothing in His creation that is in His Essence, nor is His Essence in any of His creation. He is Independent of it, His Essence separate from it.All the Companions, the Followers, the Four Imams and the rest of the Imams of religion have agreed that Allah’s statement “He is with you wherever you are, and Allah is watchful over what you do”[xxi] does not mean that He is mixed in with the creation or has descended into them, nor does it mean that He is everywhere with His Essence. Rather, He – exalted is He, the Most High – is with everything with His knowledge, His power etc. Allah is with His slave in the sense of listening to his speech, looking at his actions, knowing his private and public affairs, and supervising them; He is in control over not only them but all the heavens, the earth and whatever is in between, all of which is the creation of Allah without Him descending into any part of it: “Exalted is He. There is nothing like unto Him – He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing”[xxii] – either in his Essence, His attributes or His actions.Allah is described by what He described Himself with, and what his Messenger described Him with, without interfering in modalities, or engaging corporealism, distortion, or negation. His attributes are not explained using the attributes of His creation. The position of the Predecessors is to affirm without anthropomorphising and to consider Him and His Attributes free from blemishes without negation.
Imam Malik – may Allah be pleased with him – was asked about the statement of Allah Most High “The Merciful rose over the throne.”[xxiii] He replied, “Rising is known. The modality is unknown. Having faith in it is mandatory. Asking about it is an innovation.” ”
This is who Imam Ibn Taymiyyah was. This answer is exactly as I have read about his theology, and as I have studied about his biography. So how can it be that those subscribing to his theology are accused of pandeism, pantheism, corporealism, or whatever else the pantheists adopt as their beliefs?
May Allah protect us and you from unorthodoxy, deviation and corruption. May He guide us to the ways of good and righteousness. He is indeed able over everything and worthy of accepting.
Composed by the one who depends on his Independent Lord, Abu Muhammad Mahmud bin Ahmad al-`Ayni[xxiv], may Allah treat with him with His covert and overt compassion, 18/03/835, Cairo
[i] The Comprehensive Refutation On The One Who Believed That The One Naming Ibn Taymiyyah as the Shaykh of Islam is a Disbeliever.
[ii] Authored by Ibn Nasir ‘l-Din al-Dimashqi al-Shafi`i, died 842 A.H.
[iii] Pp. 84-89, Matba`at Kurdistan al-`Ilmiyyah, 1329 A.H.
[iv] This work in translation was submitted through two stages. The first entailed translation of equivalence, so to preserve the original Arabic meanings as much as possible. The second was a smoothing out for the purposes of the English language. Some minor additions and omissions have been made in an effort to clarify the text and keep the sentences flowing. My thanks go to the editor for his painstaking work in editing this translation, may Allah bless him with the good of this world and the next.
[vi] i.e. the Tabi`un.
[vii] See the Quran, 113:5.
[viii] A Shafi`i, died 727 A.H., a year before Ibn Taymiyyah.
[ix] Al-`Ayni slightly digresses by expounding on the biography of Ibn ‘l-Zimlikani here, which we have omitted as it does not serve the purpose of this extract.
[x] Died 741 A.H. In his book on history, Ibn Kathir states under the year’s entry writes that there was not a funeral in Damascus like his since the funeral of Ibn Taymiyyah.
[xi] `Abd ‘llah bin `Abd ‘l-Halim. Died 727 A.H., a year before his brother.
[xii] One of the several historical gates of Damascus.
[xiii] Al-`Ayni omitted the following couplets here:
فتى في علمه أضحى فريدا *** وحل المشكلات به يناط
وكان إلى التقى يدعو البرايا *** وينهى فرقة فسقوا ولاطوا
وكان الجن تفرق من سطاه *** بوعظ للقلوب هو السياط
[xiv] i.e. the Prophet, peace be upon him.
[xv] Possibly in reference to three-year boycott faced by the Family of Hashim in Makkah during the earlier years of prophethood; or the affair faced by Husayn bin `Ali – may Allah be pleased with him – at Karbala.
[xvi] Al-`Ayni omitted the following couplets here:
ولكن يا ندامة حابسيه *** فشك الشرك كان به يماط
ويا فرح اليهود بما فعلتم *** فإن الضد يعجبه الخباط
ألم يك فيكم رجل رشيد *** يرى سجن الإمام فيستشاط
[xvii] By Najm ‘l-Din al-Qazwini, died 665 A.H.
[xviii] The Arabic grammarian, exegete, author on canonical Quranic recitations, Zahiri-turned-Shafi`i Grenadian scholar. Died 745 A.H.
[xix] i.e. Abu Bakr al-Siddiq.
[xx] In reference to the Apostasy Wars after the demise of the Prophet, peace be upon him.
[xxi] The Quran, 57:4.
[xxii] The Quran, 42:11.
[xxiii] The Quran, 20:5.
[xxiv] The famous Hanafi scholar of Egypt, author of `Umdat ‘l-Qari and many other works. Died 855 A.H.
Courtesy: Shaykh Isma’l Ibrahim Patel (Harris Hammam) http://forums.islamicawakening.com/f20/badr-l-din-al-%60ayni-al-hanafi-67767/