The Strange Case Of Ibn Taymiyyah

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We caught up with Islamic Scholar and theoretical physicist Hafiz ‘Chuck’ Connors to interview him about controversial 13/14th century thinker Taqi ad-Din Ahmad ibn Taymiyyah (January 22, 1263 — 1328 CE).

Praised without reservation (or equal) by the Wahhabi movement (and other Muslim groups) and yet vilified as a disbeliever by many others, where does the truth lie?

With organisations such as iERA and Al Kauthar, Al Maghrib etc promoting his ideas, Saudi and Qatari publishing houses flooding the West with translations of his books and Orientalists and Islamic Studies departments taking renewed interest in his huge corpus of work, Connors takes time out from the Space Programme to get at the truth about this individual – in Ibn Taymiyyahs own words…

References for issues mentioned during the interview:

1. مجموع فتاوى ج4 ص229: إذَا تَبَيَّنَ هَذَا فَقَدْ حَدَثَ الْعُلَمَاءُ الْمَرْضِيُّونَ وَأَوْلِيَاؤُهُ الْمَقْبُولُونَ : أَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يُجْلِسُهُ رَبُّهُ عَلَى الْعَرْشِ مَعَهُ . رَوَى ذَلِكَ مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ فَضِيلٍ عَنْ لَيْثٍ عَنْ مُجَاهِدٍ ؛ فِي تَفْسِيرِ : { عَسَى أَنْ يَبْعَثَكَ رَبُّكَ مَقَامًا مَحْمُودًا } وَذَكَرَ ذَلِكَ مِنْ وُجُوهٍ أُخْرَى مَرْفُوعَةٍ وَغَيْرِ مَرْفُوعَةٍ قَالَ ابْنُ جَرِيرٍ : وَهَذَا لَيْسَ مُنَاقِضًا لِمَا اسْتَفَاضَتْ بِهِ الْأَحَادِيثُ مِنْ أَنَّ الْمَقَامَ الْمَحْمُودَ هُوَ الشَّفَاعَةُ بِاتِّفَاقِ الْأَئِمَّةِ مِنْ جَمِيعِ مَنْ يَنْتَحِلُ الْإِسْلَامَ وَيَدَّعِيه لَا يَقُولُ إنَّ إجْلَاسَهُ عَلَى الْعَرْشِ مُنْكَرًا (*) – وَإِنَّمَا أَنْكَرَهُ بَعْضُ الْجَهْمِيَّة وَلَا ذَكَرَهُ فِي تَفْسِيرِ الْآيَةِ مُنْكَرٌ )

It had been narrated from blessed scholars and acceptable saints that Muhammad, the Messenger of Allâh – peace and blessings of Allâh be upon him – will be seated by his Lord on the Throne with Him.

2. ابن تيمية في مجموع الفتاوى الجزء 2 صفحة 76 يقول ان الله لا يمتنع عليه ان ينزل بحبل لَوْ أَدْلَى لَهَبَطَ ؛ أَيْ لَوْ فُرِضَ أَنَّ هُنَاكَ إدْلَاءً لَفُرِضَ أَنَّ هُنَاكَ هُبُوطًا وَهُوَ يَكُونُ إدْلَاءً وَهُبُوطًا إذَا قُدِّرَ أَنَّ السَّمَوَاتِ تَحْتَ الْأَرْضِ وَهَذَا التَّقْدِيرُ مُنْتَفٍ ؛ وَلَكِنَّ فَائِدَتَهُ بَيَانُ الْإِحَاطَةِ وَالْعُلُوِّ مِنْ كُلِّ جَانِبٍ وَهَذَا الْمَفْرُوضُ مُمْتَنِعٌ فِي حَقِّنَا لَا نَقْدِرُ عَلَيْهِ فَلَا يُتَصَوَّرُ أَنْ يُدْلِيَ وَلَا يُتَصَوَّرُ أَنْ يَهْبِطَ عَلَى اللَّهِ شَيْءٌ لَكِنَّ اللَّهَ قَادِرٌ عَلَى أَنْ يَخْرُقَ مِنْ هُنَا إلَى هُنَاكَ بِحَبْلِ وَلَكِنْ لَا يَكُونُ فِي حَقِّهِ إدْلَاءً فَلَا يَكُونُ فِي حَقِّهِ هُبُوطًا عَلَيْهِ . كَمَا لَوْ خَرَقَ بِحَبْلِ مِنْ الْقُطْبِ إلَى الْقُطْبِ أَوْ مِنْ مَشْرِقِ الشَّمْسِ إلَى مَغْرِبِهَا وَقَدَّرْنَا أَنَّ الْحَبْلَ مَرَّ فِي وَسَطِ الْأَرْضِ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ قَادِرٌ عَلَى ذَلِكَ كُلِّهِ وَلَا فَرْقَ بِالنِّسْبَةِ إلَيْهِ عَلَى هَذَا التَّقْدِيرِ مِنْ أَنْ يَخْرُقَ مِنْ جَانِبِ الْيَمِينِ مِنَّا إلَى جَانِبِ الْيَسَارِ أَوْ مِنْ جِهَةِ أَمَامِنَا إلَى جِهَةِ خَلْفِنَا أَوْ مِنْ جِهَةِ رُءُوسِنَا إلَى جِهَةِ أَرْجُلِنَا إذَا مَرَّ الْحَبْلُ بِالْأَرْضِ فَعَلَى كُلِّ تَقْدِيرٍ قَدْ خَرَقَ بِالْحَبْلِ مِنْ جَانِبِ الْمُحِيطِ إلَى جَانِبِهِ الْآخَرِ مَعَ خَرْقِ الْمَرْكَزِ وَبِتَقْدِيرِ إحَاطَةِ قَبْضَتِهِ بِالسَّمَوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ فَالْحَبْلُ الَّذِي قُدِّرَ أَنَّهُ خَرَقَ بِهِ الْعَالَمَ وَصَلَ إلَيْهِ وَلَا يُسَمَّى شَيْءٌ مِنْ ذَلِكَ بِالنِّسْبَةِ إلَيْهِ إدْلَاءً وَلَا هُبُوطًا . وَأَمَّا بِالنِّسْبَةِ إلَيْنَا فَإِنَّ مَا تَحْتَ أَرْجُلِنَا تَحْتٌ لَنَا وَمَا فَوْقَ رُءُوسِنَا فَوْقٌ لَنَا وَمَا نُدْلِيهِ مِنْ نَاحِيَةِ رُءُوسِنَا إلَى نَاحِيَةِ أَرْجُلِنَا نَتَخَيَّلُ أَنَّهُ هَابِطٌ فَإِذَا قُدِّرَ أَنَّ أَحَدَنَا أَدْلَى بِحَبْلِ كَانَ هَابِطًا عَلَى مَا هُنَاكَ لَكِنَّ هَذَا تَقْدِيرٌ مُمْتَنِعٌ فِي حَقِّنَا وَالْمَقْصُودُ بِهِ بَيَانُ إحَاطَةِ الْخَالِقِ سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى كَمَا بَيَّنَ أَنَّهُ يَقْبِضُ السَّمَوَاتِ وَيَطْوِي الْأَرْضَ وَنَحْوَ ذَلِكَ مِمَّا فِيهِ بَيَانُ إحَاطَتِهِ بِالْمَخْلُوقَاتِ . وَلِهَذَا قَرَأَ فِي تَمَامِ هَذَا الْحَدِيثِ { هُوَ الْأَوَّلُ وَالْآخِرُ وَالظَّاهِرُ وَالْبَاطِنُ وَهُوَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ } . وَهَذَا كُلُّهُ عَلَى تَقْدِيرِ صِحَّتِهِ فَإِنَّ التِّرْمِذِيَّ لَمَّا رَوَاهُ قَالَ : وَفَسَّرَهُ بَعْضُ أَهْلِ الْحَدِيثِ بِأَنَّهُ هَبَطَ عَلَى عِلْمِ اللَّهِ وَبَعْضُ الْحُلُولِيَّةِ والاتحادية يَظُنُّ أَنَّ فِي هَذَا الْحَدِيثِ مَا يَدُلُّ عَلَى قَوْلِهِمْ الْبَاطِلِ ؛ وَهُوَ أَنَّهُ حَالٌّ بِذَاتِهِ فِي كُلِّ مَكَانٍ وَأَنَّ وُجُودَهُ وُجُودُ الْأَمْكِنَةِ وَنَحْوُ ذَلِكَ . وَالتَّحْقِيقُ : أَنَّ الْحَدِيثَ لَا يَدُلُّ عَلَى شَيْءٍ مِنْ ذَلِكَ إنْ كَانَ ثَابِتًا فَإِنَّ قَوْلَهُ : { لَوْ أَدْلَى بِحَبْلِ لَهَبَطَ } يَدُلُّ عَلَى أَنَّهُ لَيْسَ فِي الْمُدْلِي وَلَا فِي الْحَبْلِ وَلَا فِي الدَّلْوِ وَلَا فِي غَيْرِ ذَلِكَ وَأَنَّهَا تَقْتَضِي أَنَّهُ مِنْ تِلْكَ النَّاحِيَةِ

Allah is able to extend a rope from here to there but there will be no descending [to him] on his part, so [the rope] will not be extending down to him [from above]…

3.

الثالث : أن يقال : قبل أن يبعث الله محمدا – صلى الله عليه وسلم – لم يكن أحد مؤمنا من قريش : لا رجل ولا صبي ولا امرأة ، ولا الثلاثة ن : ولا امرأة ولا الثلاثة . ، ولا علي ، وإذا قيل عن الرجال : إنهم كانوا يعبدون الأصنام ، فالصبيان س ، ب : والصلبان ، وهو تحريف . كذلك : علي وغيره . وإن قيل : كفر الصبي ليس مثل كفر البالغ . قيل : ولا إيمان الصبي مثل إيمان البالغ ; فأولئك يثبت لهم حكم الإيمان والكفر وهم بالغون ، وعلي يثبت له حكم الكفر والإيمان وهو دون البلوغ .

والصبي المولود بين أبوين كافرين يجري عليه حكم الكفر في الدنيا [ ص: 286 ] باتفاق المسلمين . وإذا أسلم قبل البلوغ فهل يجري عليه حكم الإسلام قبل البلوغ ؟ ( 1 – 1 ) ساقط من ( س ) ، ( ب ) . على قولين للعلماء ، بخلاف البالغ فإنه يصير مسلما باتفاق المسلمين . ن . ومذهب ؟ على قولين مشهوري فكان إسلام الثلاثة مخرجا لهم من الكفر باتفاق المسلمين . وأما إسلام علي ، فهل يكون مخرجا له من الكفرغير مخرج له من الكفرإسلام الصبي أن الشافعي . وأما كون صبي من الصبيان قبل النبوة سجد لصنم أو لم يسجد ، فهو لم يعرف ; فلا يمكن الجزم بأن عليا أو الزبير م : والزبير . ونحوهما س ، ب : أو نحوهما . لم يسجدوا لصنم ، كما أنه ليس معنا نقل بثبوت ذلك ، بل ولا معنا نقل معين عن أحد من الثلاثة أنه سجد لصنم . بل هذا يقال لأن من عادة قريش قبل الإسلام أن يسجدوا للأصنام ; وحينئذ فهذا ممكن في الصبيان ، كما هو العادة في مثل ذلك .

منهاج السنة النبوية في نقض كلام الشيعة القدرية

There are two opinions as to whether Ali’s conversion to Islam released him from kufr or not”

4. Minhaj al-Sunnah, Volume 4 page 137:

وعلي رضي الله عنه كان قصده أن يتزوج عليها فله في أذاها غرض

“Ali intended to marry so as to hurt her (Fatima) on purpose.”

5. Minhaj al-Sunnah, Volume 5 page 522:

فإن أبا بكر إمام لا يتصرف لنفسه بل للمسلمين ، والمال لم يأخذه لنفسه بل للمسلمين ، وفاطمة تطلب لنفسها

Verily Abu Bakr is an Imam who did not act for himself but for the Muslims and as for the money, he did not take it for himself but for the Muslims whilst Fatima was demanding it for herself.

6. Minhaj al-Sunnah, Volume 4 page 19:

وأما كونهما أزهد الناس وأعلمهم في زمانهم فهذا قول بلا دليل

“To be deemed as the most ascetic and knowledgeable people of their time, this is a proofless claim.”

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12 thoughts on “The Strange Case Of Ibn Taymiyyah

    • Thanks bro! We didn’t think about doing Alabani, because if people insist on Ibn Taymiyyah and the Salafi movement despite these extraordinary claims (and I assure there are many worse utterances of Ibn Taymiyyah, such as the issue of God ‘riding goats’ Allah forbid) then are they not beyond dialogue?

      But what do you think? And is Ibn Baz not more controversial with his ideas about an ‘uncreated space’ above the Arsh? Isn’t that a bit like shirk?

      • Salam, Well, you can’t really separate shirk from the pseudo-salafi. I brought Albani up because he seems to be part of the trinity of Salafi scholars, I remeber Yusuf estes saying he was a great scholar in some video.

        I was watching some Salafi videos, and I was trying to see what their different answers were to “where is Allah?” was. Apparently, If you don’t believe Allah is literally in a place with direction, you are some sort of atheist, which is…bizarrely materialistic.

        I mean.. look at 26:10 to 27:00

        He says essentially that, something needs directionality(thus necessitating spacial and temporal confinements) to exist.

        Scary stuff:( 😦 😦

  1. Assalamu ‘aleikum brother. The ‘salafis’ who are mostly influenced by Al-Albani, in al-Sham, and his students differ a little, in my experience, somewhat from the Wahhabi/Saudi salafis. I think I can sum up my view of these differences in a few points.

    1. Al-Albani although he obviously held him in high regard never seemed to have paid very much attention to Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab and his writings and the commentaries on them, however his student and those who study under them no doubt study his works in depth. Anyone who does not would probably not be regarded by others as a salafi. He was most fond of Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn al-Qayyim and even expressed once in a debate which I have listened to that anyone who did not read their books would go astray.

    2. The no-madhhabism. Many Wahhabi salafis are madhhab followers, mostly of the Hanbalis madhhab, and quite a few of them regard following a madhhab obligatory. However Al-Albani was explicitly a no-madhhabist and those who have received their teachings from him or his students usually do not follow any madhhab but engage in what they call ‘tarjih’, trying to verify themselves the correct opinions based on the evidences from the texts, Like Muqbil bin Wadi’, Salim al-Hilali, ‘Ali al-Halabi, Mashhur, Hassan Al Salman and many others.

    3. Al-Albani seems to have been more lenient in his opinion of Asha’ris and Maturidis than others, who believe that if ‘the truth’ is explained to us and we still hold our views, opposed to theirs this would constitute disbelief. Which is basically just a sneaky way of trying to be vague in takfir, because I do not believe their is any Ash’ari or Maturidi that has a little bit of knowledge who is unaware of the beliefs of Salafis and some of the basis of the understanding. I have never seen any statement from Al-Albani expressing such takfir.

    There are of course detailed books exposing his views which one can refer to.

    One major ‘salafi’ scholar who is alive today who seems to unite some of the ‘salafi’ fractions that regard each-other as misguided is Dr. Salih Al-Fawzan, a member of the Saudi permanent committee of major scholars who was a student of Ibn Baz and others. Unfortunately, due to the fact that he is a dr. in fiqh and especially knowledgeable in Hanbali fiqh he is included in all kind of international fiqh leagues and associations, and his opinions are given weight, outside the border of Saudi Arabia.

    As you have pointed out brother, most of it goes back to Ibn Taymiyya, Ibn al-Qayyim and Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab. So exposing and refuting their statements equals refuting them as well.
    However , the Saudis publish many books, that had been lost or forgotten. Some of which require careful, research into authors, mansucripts etc, and sometimes clarifications of the real intent of the authors. But that is of course an on-going project undertaken by the scholars of Ahl al-sunna.

    As for Al-Fawzan, then in order not to write things that are inappropriate for a Muslim to express I will say it like this. Let it be. His mind is completely closed, there is no opening, and anyone expressing some sort of dissent to a held opinion, even if it may be in a matter of fiqh or a wordly matter will be met with takfir or an accusation of being deviant and misguided,

    One who poses a slightly greater difficulty in these days however, and who is not completely unintelligent, despite being closed minded and extremely anti Ash’ari Maturidi is Rabi’ al-Madkhali. He is a student of both Ibn Baz and Al-Albani, and there are quite a few who follow him and hold him in very high regard and adhere to him from other ‘salafi’ scholars in Saudi and their students in the west. I think more effort should be made to refute them.

    This is just what came to my mind. Jazakumullahu khayran. Keep up the good work in sha’ Allah

    • Truly excellent!

      Seriously, many thanks indeed: I learnt a lot from this post. Please consider contributing an article based on it (or something else if you like!)

  2. Thank you brother. I am an ignorant person so I don’t really like to write about matters of din, and I especially don’t like heated arguments with people of different groups, which criticizing different groups inevitably leads to. However it is undoubtedly an obligation for some to step up and do it. I only wanted to present some points because I have quite some experience with ‘salafism’. I have an old article entitled ‘reflections on human language’ that I am planning to revise thoroughly. It will probably take some time because I am busy with studies and looking for more interesting sources for the article. But if I finish it I can send it to you and you may decide whether it is worth posting in sha’ Allah.

    By the way I am the brother Ibrahim who e-mailed you not so long ago if you remember me. I posted one article on brother Pauls blog which I think you would appreciate. It is just some rather long quotes from the book ‘Islamic science and the European renaissance’ (I think that was the title) written by professor George Saliba, published by MIT Press, In which he refutes the argument that Al-Ghazali (in particular) or other Sunni scholars caused the decline of science in the Muslim world. It is found on brother Pauls blog, entitled ‘Science vs. religion’. If you like it you can always repost it.

  3. Their understanding of Allah being absolutely unique is not the same as ours. When they say that they believe that Allah is unique it only means that he is greater and more magnificent in physical attributes (wal ‘iyadhu billah) and other attributes than any human knows and can truly imagine.

    Ibn al-‘Uthaymin in his explanation of al-‘aqida al-wasitiyya makes a kind of refutation of a straw man version of the Ash’ari/Maturidi view on the sifat in which he says that we say that all bodies are similar and goes on to say that he does not accept that. he gives the example of the elephants ‘yad’ and the ants ‘yad’ and says that if such great difference exists between creations then what should we then say of the difference between the creation and Allah ‘azza wa jall. I do not have the book available, but anyone who looks it up should be able to find it.

    To be honest, he does also say that ‘we neither affirm nor deny’ the attribute of body. Nevertheless I think a comparison such as the one mentioned before, even if we say for the purpose of being charitable that it’s purpose is not to affirm a body through sophistry (‘well it’s stick with a pointy iron tip attached on top that can be used for fighting, but I’m not saying it’s a spear’), it is still a likening that should make the skin crawl of anyone who truly believes in the oneness and transcendence of Allah

    • To be honest, that is an excellent summary of their position: the fact that they say there is no similitude for God and then they use examples such as the elephant relative to the ant shows gross anthropomorphism. Or perhaps ‘corporealism’ or even ‘incarnationism’ may be a better word – since they like to muddy the waters by rejecting ‘anthropomorphism’ and saying they do not believe in it (i.e that God is ‘like a man’). This is true, since they believe that God is a ‘body’ but a ‘unique’ one (an idea which Jewish and Christian anthropomorphists expressed by ‘a body unlike bodies’, a phrase which is expressed by Salafis as ‘a body but as befits his majesty’ or ‘without a how’, though they are starting to borrow the earlier phrase now too).

      Frankly, even this shocking theology becomes unnecessary to argue about once we establish that Ibn Taymiyyah argues that God swings around the universe on ropes, like Tarzan or something. This is hugely embarrassing and they are very angry about having it exposed. I warn the reader that they ususally lie their way out of this statement of Ibn Taymiyyah, since it causes the vast majority of theists, let alone Muslims, to disregard Ibn taymiyyah completely: their only rejoinder to the clear proof we presented of Ibn Taymiyyah holding this belief was merely that he says it is possible for God to do that, not that he actually does it. Regardless of the accuracy of this claim, I wonder of these same individuals would allow for God to ‘become a man, but he doesn’t do it’.

      Sadly, despite the abundance of evidence that has been presented and the fact that people can easily check for themselves, many Salafi Muslims are not willing to take it on board for emotional reasons: which makes them the same as the blind followers of any other system…

  4. Pingback: How To Prevent Salafist ‘Mind Rape’: Muslims Display Academic ‘Standards’ AGAIN | Asharis: Assemble

  5. Ibn Battuta, the renowned Muslim traveller, recorded that Ibn Taymiyyah “had a screw loose”, because during a sermon, he descended from the pulpit, and as he walked down its steps, he said that, when God descends from the highest heaven, “he descends like this”. (Little, Donald P. “Did Ibn Taymiyya have a screw loose?”, Studia Islamica, 1975, Number 41, pp. 95)

  6. Pingback: Muslims Proudly Display Academic Standards YET AGAIN! Sometimes They Come Back… | Asharis: Assemble

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