al-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah
*Please appropriately reference this
biography to: www.fatwa-online.com, thankyou!*
praise is for Allaah Lord of the worlds. Peace and blessings
be upon Muhammad (sal-Allaahu
`alayhe wa sallam), his pure family, his companions and
all those who strive to follow in their footsteps till the
last day. To preceed :
people today accuse some of the greatest scholars of Islaam
of blasphemy and kufr (disbelief). One who is frequently attacked
is Shaykh al-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah - rahima-hullaah -. In actual
fact he is slandered and lied against. People say things about
him which he never said... in actual fact things which he
was totally against!! These people who do should fear Allaah,
and remember that they should be just and judge a man with
justice and from knowledge, rather than judging him from ignorance
and heresay ! subhaan-Allaah, Ibn Taymiyyah used to strive
for the upliftment of the sunnah, and for the defence of this
deen from those who in ignorance are changing it. And it was
he who led the people to fight the tyrant tartars and it was
he who suffered the darkness of the jails of Egypt so that
Islaam can be lifted, and it was he who used to pray to Allaah
to guide those who are misguided. Therefore let there be a
warning to those who blemish his name - a severe warning indeed-
that they may not slander him, for a scholar's flesh is poisonous.
people accuse Ibn Taymiyyah of Likening Allaah to the creation.....this
a big lie and slander...and these people should fear Allaah,
and take account of the evil their tongues utter before its
too late. Inshaa.-Allaah below are some quotes from the writings
of the noble Shaykh which clarifies his position beyond doubt
on this issue. And those who after reading this still utter
salnder and lies agianst the Shaykh, then all that can be
said about them is that they have an illness in their hearts,
and we pray to Allaah that He cures them of this disease.
"al-'Aqeedatul Waasitiyaah " Ibn Taymiyyah - rahima-hullaah
faith (eemaan) is acceptance (eemaan) of what Allaah has ascribed
Himself in the scripture as well as what the messenger r ascribed
to Him. [This creed] prevents any attempts at altering the
sacred texts (tahreef), and rules out stripping Allaah of
his tributes (ta'teel) or asking questions), concerining their
modality ( takyeef..ie ..ascribing a "howness",
or attempting to understand them analogicaly (tamtheel). Indeed
[the ahlus-sunnah] hold that:
is nothing like unto Him (Allaah); [that] He is the All-Hearing
and All-Seeing One (Qur.aan 42:11).
do not negate what Allaah has attributed Himself, nor do they
alter the meaning of His words on these matters, nor subscribe
to heretical notions regarding the divine names (asmaa') and
manifestations (aayaat). They do NOT (!!!) seek to explain
His attributes (sifaat) or COMPARE THEM with those of HIS
CREATURES, for He (Allaah) has no namesake (samiy), no equal,
no peer (nidd) and, therefore, He, the One free of all imperfections
and Most High, does NOT befit of being compared to His creatures."
Taymiyyah says in at-Tadmuriyyah (p20):
"It is a must to affirm that which Allaah affirms for
himself , whilst NEGATING ANY likeness to Him to His craetion.....
whoever says His Knowledge is like my knowledge, His Power
like my power, or Love like my love, or Pleasure like my pleasure,
or Hand like my hand, or istawaa (ascending) like my ascending--
then he has resembled and likened Allaah to His creation.
Rather, it is must to affirm (Allaah's Attributes) without
any resemblance, and to negate (what Allaah negates for Himself),
without ta'teel (divesting Allaah of any of His affirmed Attributes)."
Taymiyyah wrote in Majmoo-al Fatawaa (5/262):
"Whosoever considers the Attributes of Allaah to be like
the attributes of creation- such that the Istawa (Ascending)
of Allaah is like the ascending of the creation, or His nuzool
(descending) is like the descending of the creation, or other
than that-- then he is a DEVIATED INNOVATOR."
people please read and pay heed to the words of the noble
is enough proof for those that are just and who are sincerely
seeking the truth ...and Allaah knows best.
Abul-'Abbaas Ahmad Ibn 'Abdul-Haleem Ibn 'Abdus-Salaam Ibn
Taymiyyah al-Harraanee al-Hanbalee, was born on Monday the
10th of Rabi' al-Awwal 66l A.H./22nd of January 1263 C.E.
at Harraan (northern Iraq) into a well known family of "mutakallimoon"(theologians).
His grandfather, Abu al-Barkat Majd-ud-deen ibn Taymiyyah
(d.653 A.H./1255 C.E.) was a reputed teacher of the Hanbaleete
school and his "Muntaqa al-Akhbaar (selections of prophetic
sayings) which classifies such Ahaadeeth upon which Islaamic
legislation is based, is even today regarded as a very valuable
work. Likewise, the scholarly achievements of Ibn Taymiyyah's
father, Shihaabuddeen 'Abdul-Haleem Ibn Taymiyyah (d.682 A.H./1284
C.E.) were wide spread.
was the time when the Tataar hordes under Hulagu Khaan were
inflicting their barbaric onslaught throughout the world of
Islaam - especially the mesopotamium region. Ibn Taymiyyah
was only seven when the Tataars launched their attack on Harraan.
Consequently, the populace left Harraan to seek refuge elsewhere.
Ibn Taymiyyah's family proceeded to Damascus in 667 A.H./1268
C.E. which was then ruled by the Mamlooks of Egypt. It was
here that his father delivered sermons from the pulpit of
the Umayyad Mosque and was invited to teach Hadeeth in the
mosque as well as in the Daarul-Hadeeth 'Assaakuriyyah in
Damascus. These discourses were attended by a large number
of students as well as by the scholars. Damascus was the center
of Islaamic studies at that time, and Ahmad Ibn Taymiyyah
followed in the footsteps of his father who was a scholar
of Islaamic studies by studying with the great scholars of
his time, among them a woman scholar by the name Zaynab bint
Makkee who taught him hadeeth.
From his early childhood, Ibn Taymiyyah was an industrious
student. He fully acquainted himself with all the secular
and religious sciences of his time. He devoted special attention
to Arabic literature and gained mastery over grammar and lexicography.
Not only did he become an expert on the great Arab grammarian
Seebawayh's al-Kitaab which is regarded as the greatest authority
on grammar and syntax, but he also pointed out the errors
therein. He commanded knowledge of all the prose and poetry
then available. Furthermore, he studied the history of both
pre Islaamic Arabia and that of the post-Islaamic period.
Finally, he learnt mathematics and calligraphy.
for the religions sciences, Ibn Taymiyyah studied the Qur.aan,
Hadeeth and Sharee'ah.
He learnt the Hanbalee fiqh (law) from his own father and
then became a distinguished representative of the Hanbalee
school of law. He is reported to have acquired his knowledge
on Hadeeth in Syria like Ibn 'Abduddayaam. Another of his
teachers was Shamsuddeen 'Abdurrahmaan al-Maqdisee (d.682
A.H./1283 C.E.).Thus Ibn Taymiyyah received a thorough grounding
in the Sihaah Sittah and the Musnad of Imaam Ahmad.
Taymiyyah had great love for tafseer (Qur.aanic exegesis).
He read over a hundred commentaries of the Qur.aan.
completed his studies when he was a teenager and at age 19
he became a professor of Islaamic studies. Well versed in
Qur.aanic studies, Hadeeth, fiqh, theology, Arabic grammar
and scholastic theology, etc., he started giving fatwas on
religious legal matters without following any of the traditional
legal schools, the Hanafee, Maalikee, Shaafi'ee and Hanbalee.
He defended the sound prophetic traditions by arguments which,
although taken from the Qur.aan and the Sunnah, had hitherto
been unfamiliar to people of his time. The freedom of his
polemics made him many enemies among the scholars of the traditional
Orthodox Schools, who falsely accused him, of all kinds of
heretical beliefs. Among them was the famous Muslim medieval
traveler, Ibn Batutah, who visited Damascus while Ibn Taymiyyah
was in jail. This did not hinder Ibn Batutah in testifying
in his book that "he witnessed Ibn Taymiyyah on the pulpit
saying, 'every night Allaah descends to the lower heaven like
my descent', and he descended one step down the pulpit".
From reading this 'aqeedah we learn that Ibn Taymiyyah accepted
the attributes of Allaah without questioning (bi-laa kayfa).
Ibn Taymiyyah lost his father in 682 A.H./1283 C.E. at the
age of twenty two, he succeeded at the 'Assaakuriyyah. He
began to teach "Tafseer" at the Umayyad mosque and
in 695 A.H./1296 C.E. he began to teach at the Hanbaleeyyah
in Damascus. Soon he became prominent among the leading scholars
of Syria and also became immensely popular with the masses.
In the meanwhile, Iraq, Iran, and Khuraasaan continued to
smother under the cruel domination of the Tataars. The Mamlooks
who were ruling over Egypt, Syria and the Hijaaz (Arabian
peninsula) attempted several times to capture Iraq but failed
each time. When it was learnt that the Tataars were planning
to conquer Damascus, the Mamlook Sultaan, al-Maalik an-Naasir
Muhammad bin Qalawoon left Egypt with a powerful army to check
the advance of the Tataars.
two forces met in a bloody battle in 699 A.H./1299 C.E. but
the Sultaan was defeated and he returned to Egypt. Now Damascus
lay open before the Tataar forces led by Ghazzaan, also known
as Mahmood, the great grandson of Ghengis Khaan. Consequently,
all the nobles including the religions scholars, judges, administrators
and traders fled from Damascus where total chaos and anarchy
held sway in the face of the Tataar invasion.
this critical moment Ibn Taymiyyah and their remaining notables
decided to lead a delegation to meet Ghazzaan and pursue for
peace of the city. Accordingly, the delegation led by Ibn
Taymiyyah met Ghazzaan at Nabak (near Damascus) and he agreed
to grant amnesty to the people of Damascus.
of the Tataar army advancing towards Syria again reached Damascus
in 702 A.H./1303 C.E. Delay in the arrival of Sultaan Qalawoon
from Egypt caused panic among the people, many of whom began
to abandon their homes for safer places. When Ibn Taymiyyah
saw this, he began to urge the people to defend themselves
and their city, thereby arresting the exodus. He also went
personally to appeal to the Sultaan to speed up his journey
last the Muslim forces of Egypt and Syria encountered the
Tataar forces at Thaqab during Ramadhaan 702 A.H./1303 C.E.
and after a bloody conflict the Muslims defeated and dispersed
the Tataar armies.
Ibn Taymiyyah's fight was not limited to the Soofees and the
people who followed the heretical innovations; in addition,
he fought against the Tataars who attacked the Muslim world
and almost reached Damascus. The people of Syria sent him
to Egypt to urge the Mamlook Sultaan, the Sultaan of Egypt
and Syria to lead his troops to Syria to save it from the
invading Tataars. When he realized that the Sultaan was hesitant
to do what he asked of him, he threatened the Sultaan by saying:
"If you turn your back on Syria we will appoint a Sultaan
over it who can defend it and enjoy it at the time of peace".
He was present at the battle of Shaqhab near Damascus against
the Tataars which took place during the fasting month of Ramadhaan
and gave a fatwa to the army to break their fast in order
to help them against their enemy, as the Prophet Muhammad
`alayhe wa sallam) did during the battle of the liberation
of Makkah. The Muslims won the battle against the Tataars
and drove them away from Damascus and all Syria. Ibn Taymiyyah's
courage was expressed when he went with a delegation of 'ulamaa.
to talk to Qazan the Khan of the Tataars to stop his attack
on the Muslims. Not one of the 'ulamaa. dared to say anything
to him except Ibn Taymiyyah who said: "You claim that
you are Muslim and you have with you mu'adhdhins, judges,
Imam and Shaykh but you invaded us and reached our country
for what? While your father and your grandfather, Hulago,
were non-believers, they did not attack the land of Islaam,
rather, they promised not to attack and they kept their promise.
But you promised and broke your promise."
the Tataar threat was eliminated, Ibn Taymiyyah again devoted
himself to his mission of his intellectual pursuit and teaching.
At the same time, he continued to wage Jihaad
against the heretical sects like the Baatinites, Ismaa.eelites,
Haakimites and Nusayrites living in the hilly tracts of Syria
who had invited the Crusaders and the Tataars to invade the
Muslim lands, helped these invaders against the Muslims and
looted and plundered the weak and defenceless population.
Ibn Taymiyyah personally led expeditions against these sects.
Condition Of The Muslims
Apart from the external threats mentioned above, Islaam was
also confronted at this time with internal dangers. There
were Baatinites (an extremist Sheeite sect which confronted
the Muslim Government at that time) and their followers, the
Assassins (Hasheeshiyoon). Their creed was a mixture of Magian
dogma and Platonic concepts which could easily sow the seeds
of intellectual dissension and spread irreligousness and apostasy
among the simple minded people. Then there were Muslims who,
under the influence of the polytheistic beliefs and customs
of the non-Muslims with whom they had free associations, began
to glorify their saints (highly pious Soofee personalities
- Walee-Allaah) as the Jews and the Christians were doing.
Further more, some Soofee's orders like the Rifaa'iyyah had
adopted certain neo-Platonic and Hindu doctrines which became
so confused with the true Islaamic beliefs that it became
almost impossible to distinguish one from the other.
the wake of crusaders, some Christians were emboldened to
censure Islaam and criticise the Prophet in their speeches
and writings. In the intellectual circles of the Muslims there
was stagnation and rigidity in their theological disputations
and in their approach to the re-interpretation of the Sharee'ah.
There was continuous polemical wranglings between the 'Asharites
and Hanbaleeites. Finally, some of the philosophers, influenced
by the theories of Plato and Aristotle, began to spread their
agnostic ideas and concepts in total disregard to the teachings
were the conditions pertaining to the time of Ibn Taymiyyah
and which he had to contend. Ibn Taymiyyah formed a society
along with his students and followers to renounce the polytheistic
cults, un-Islaamic cults, un-Islaamic influences and heretical
beliefs and practices among the Muslim masses. As a result
of his enthusiastic and zealous reformative activities and
condemnation of heresies, un-Islaamic innovation and practices
at the visitation of graves of saints, he earned the displeasure
of certain sectors of the population. Nonetheless, his popularity
among the Muslim masses increased tremendously.
this jihad against the enemies of Islaam did not help Ibn
Taymiyyah with the 'ulamaa.. The authorities put him in jail
many times until he died in jail because of his daring and
free progressive opinions on many legal and social issues
which angered his opponents, the followers of the Orthodox
Schools of law.
when Ibn Taymiyyah had the chance to punish his opponents
among the 'ulamaa. who caused him all kinds of trouble and
put him in jail many times, he showed the utmost of magnanimity
and forgave them when the Sultaan an-Naasir Qalawoon gave
him the chance to do so. He said: "If you kill them you
will never find 'ulamaa. like them." The Sultaan said:
"They harmed you many times and wanted to kill you!"
Ibn Taymiyyah said: "Whoever harmed me is absolved, and
who harmed the cause of Allaah and His Messenger, Allaah will
Muslim historians, like adh-Dhahabee, Ibn Katheer, Ibn al-'Imad
al-Hanbalee and many others praised Ibn Taymiyyah and considered
him one of the greatest scholars of Islaam of all time.
He fought heretical innovations in religion which were wide
spread during his time all over the Muslim world, especially
certain acts and beliefs of some Soofee orders, like saint
worship and visiting saints' tombs, and throwing themselves
in the fire. His attack on the Soofees caused him a lot of
trouble with the authorities whose leaders were under the
influence of certain soofee leaders.
a result of Ibn Taymiyyah's popularity, some influential religions
scholars became jealous of him and even annoyed because he
challenged the Qaadhee's on juridical matters. They therefore
sought ways and means to discredit him in the eyes of the
Government and the people. Ibn Taymiyyah rejected the teachings
expounded in the al-Futuhaat al-Makkah ("the Makkan Revelations")
and Fusoos al-Hakeem ("The Mosaic of Wisdom") of
Shaykh Muheeuddeen ibn al-'Arabee (d.638 A.H./1240 C.E.) the
most respected Soofee and teacher of tasawwuf - as incompatible
with the teachings of the Qur.aan and the Sunnah, thereby
earning the wrath of the Soofee's, and by being outspoken
on Government policies, he earned the hostility of the government.
Consequently he was summoned to Egypt in 705 A.H./1305 C.E.
Ibn Taymiyyah arrived in Egypt, he was asked to attend a meeting
of theologians, jurists and the chiefs of the state. During
the session certain charges were levelled against him relating
to his concepts of the nature and attributes of Allaah. He
was not allowed to defend himself and was promptly imprisoned
for about 16 months. While in prison, he diverted the attention
of his followers from indulgence in frolics and amusements
to a sense of piety, discipline and temperance. A number of
prisoners became his devoted disciples on their release.
Ibn Taymiyyah was released from prison in 707 A.H./1307 C.E.
he decided to remain in Egypt for a while. Soon he began to
deliver lectures in various Mosques and educational institutions
before select gatherings of scholars, jurists and theologians.
However, Ibn Taymiyyah's views on pantheistic monoism, intercession,
etc were not received kindly and numerous complaints were
made against him to the Sultaan. The religions scholars to
whom the complaints were referred could not find any fault
with Ibn Taymiyyah. However, as the administration was growing
weary of the charges brought against him, he was detained
for a while but was soon released on the unanimous request
of the religions scholars. But when Sultaan Qalawoon abdicated
in favour of his viceroy Baybaan al-Jashnikeer in 709 A.H./1309
C.E., Ibn Taymiyyah was exiled to Alexandria where, inspite
of his internment, he earned himself a respectable position
in the Academic and literary circles. Soon though Baybaan
abdicated and Sultaan Qalawoon returned to Egypt and ordered
In Cairo, Ibn Taymiyyah had busied himself in his teachings
and reformative activities for about 3 years. At the same
time, he acted as adviser to the Sultaan and was instrumental
in having several important reforms introduced in Egypt and
Syria. Several royal edicts were issued on his advice in 712
A.H./1312 C.E. He visited Jerusalem in the same year, then
went for Hajj (pilgrimage) and eventually returned to Damascus
in 713 A.H./1313 C.E. From now onward he devoted his attention
primarily to juristic problems though he continued teaching.
His chief disciple was ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah (d.751 A.H./1350
C.E.) who was chiefly responsible for spreading his ideas.
Question Of Three Talaaq's
Ibn Taymiyyah like his forefathers was a Hanbaleeite and his
legal opinions conformed to that school, though not exclusively.
He often rejected the Hanbaleeite view just as in some matters
he expressed disagreement with all the four principal juridicial
schools. One such case in which he differed with them was
in regard to the repudiation of one's wife by three divorces
given at one time.
issue was whether a divorce pronounced thrice at the same
time took legal effect or not. This issue raised the following
whether revocation of such a divorce was possible or not.
whether the three sentences of divorce would be counted as
one revocable pronouncement (talaaq) or taken as an irreversable
whether the wife so divorced could return to her husband or
not without a halaalah (i.e until his divorced wife was married
to another man who, in turn, after the consummation of the
the earlier jurists and traditionalists, likewise a good number
of the Prophet's companions were of the view that such a pronouncement,
although being repugnant to the law as well as irregular and
sinful, would be regarded as an implied divorce with legal
effect. As against that Ibn Taymiyyah firmly held the opinion
that the three sentences of divorce spoken at the same time
should be regarded as one revocable divorce. The view of Ibn
Taymiyyah happened to be against the official view which naturally
brought him in conflict with the 'ulamaa on one hand and with
the government on the other.
the theologians tried to prevent him from expressing further
legal opinion on such matters. In fact, a royal edict was
issued from Cairo in 718AH/1318AD forbidding him from giving
legal opinions in such cases.
Ibn Taymiyyah abided by the edict but later again began giving
legal judgment on this issue as he decided that it was improper
for him to desist simply for fear of the government. As a
result in 720 A.H./1320 C.E. he was detained in a citadel
for just over five months till he was released on direct orders
Between 721 A.H./1321 C.E. and 726 A.H./1326 C.E. Ibn Taymiyyah
devoted himself to teaching in the Madrasah Hanbaleeyyah and
his own Madrasah Qassaaseen and revising some of his earlier
works. In 726 A.H./1326 C.E. his adversaries again conspired
to have him imprisoned. Here he continued writing his exegesis
of the Qur.aan as well as treatises and monographs on various
Taymiyyah died in jail in Damascus on the night of Sunday-Monday
20th Dhul-Qa'dah 728 A.H./26-27 September 1328 C.E. at the
age of 67, and is buried in the cemetery of the Soofiyyah
people of Damascus, who held him in great honor, gave him
a splendid funeral and an estimated 200,000 men and 15,000
women attended his funeral. He was buried at the Soofee cemetery
in Damascus where his mother was buried.
Ibn Taymiyyah occupied a highly honorable place among his
contemporary religions scholars due to his prodigious memory,
intellectual brilliance, encyclopedic knowledge and dauntless
courage. He is described as a great orator, brave and fearless,
resolute, disciplined, very pious, resigned and contended,
noble and forgiving, just and ever determined.
Taymiyyah's reformative endeavors and literary pursuits cover
a vast field which can be summarised as follows:
1 revival of faith in and adherence to "Tawheed"(oneness
2 eradication of pantheistic beliefs and customs.
3 criticism of philosophy, syllogistic logic and dialects
in order to demonstrate the superiority of the Qur.aan and
4 extirpation of un-Islaamic beliefs through refutation of
Christianity and Sheeism.
5 rejuvenation of Islaamic thought and its related sciences.
total number of Ibn Taymiyyah's works is 621 though many of
his writings have been lost. Some of Ibn Taymiyyah's writings
dealing with the themes are listed below:
1 al-Jawaab as-Saheeh liman baddala Deen al-Maseeh (an answer
to the criticism against Islaam by the Christians).
2 Radd 'ala al-Mantiqiyyeen (a refutation of the philosopher).
3 Kitaab as-Siyaasah ash-Shar'iyyah (deals with political
theory and government in Islaam).
4 Minhaaj as-Sunnah an-Nabawiyyah (a refutation of Sheeite
beliefs written in response to Minhaaj al-Karanmah of Ibn
5 Ziyaarah al-Quboor (a criticism of saint-workshop, intercession,
6 Majmoo'at ar-Rasaail al-Kubra (this book contains articles
on various subjects).
7 Majmoo'at al-Fataawa (a collection of opinions on various
8 Majmoo'at ar-Rasaail wa al-Masaail (contains articles and
legal opinions on various issues).
9 Majmoo'at Shaykh al-Islaam Ahmad ibn Taymiyyah (contains
discussion on Islaamic jurisprudence and legal opinions enunciated
by Ibn Taymiyyah).
To include in the words of Mawlaana Abu al-Hasan 'Alee Nadawee
who has paid a glowing tribute to Ibn Taymiyyah as follows:
"Ibn Taymiyyah interpreted the Qur.aan and Sunnah, established
the superiority of Islaam over heresy, Philosophical concepts
and other faiths and contributed to a genuine revival of religion
after a deep study and deliberation that was necessary for
lighting the religions and intellectual waywardness of the
time. Seeking to surpass his opponents he mastered the methodology
employed by them to attack Islaam. In fact, his learning,
his erudition, his intellectual attainment and his mental
grit always left his adversaries spell bound"(*1)
wonder then that Ibn Taymiyyah's contemporary and succeeding
scholars have acclaimed him with such complimentary remarks
as "The master spirit of the age", "The crown
of scholars", "Last of the Enlightened scholars",
and "A sign among the signs of God".
A. H. A. NADAWEE, Saviours of Islaamic spirit, Vol. 2, Academy
of Islaamic research and publications, Lucknow, India, 1974,