As-Sunnah Vol. 2 Issue No. 8


Family and Early Life, Teachers and Students

      Family and Early Life:

Ibn Taymiyyah was born in Harran (an old city between Sham and Iraq) on the 10th of Rabi al-Awwal 661H. His family was renowned for their knowledge and excellence. When he was six years old, his family fled to Damascus under the threat of an imminent Mongol attack on their hometown. In Damascus, his father Shahabud-Din Abu al-Mahasin Abd al-Halim established himself as a respectable scholar and later became the professor of Hadeeth and the khateeb of the great Ummayyad mosque.

      Education and Teachers:

From an early age, Ibn Taymiyyah was noted for his memory, comprehension and strict observance of time - qualities that would later cause the rest of his life to be filled with actions such as teaching, commanding the good, forbidding the evil, authoring books and refuting innovators. He memorized the Qur'aan and studied Hadeeth with his father, who was a specialist in this field.
He learned the laws of Sharee'ah, Jurisprudence and studied the Hanbali system of law under his own father. He had a particular liking for the Tafseer (explanation) of the Qur'aan as Ibn Taymiyyah, himself mentions, 'Sometimes, I have gone through as many as hundred commentaries of a single verse of the Qur'aan. After I have dipped into these pages, I have supplicated to Allah to enlighten me about the true content and significance of the verse. I pray to Allah thus on these occasions, 'You are the Exalted Teacher of Adam and Ibraheem. Favor me with the essence of this verse.' [al-Uqood ad-Durriyah (p. 24)]
In addition, Ibn Taymiyyah also studied secular sciences of his time like history, calligraphy, mathematics, astronomy, medicine, dialect, logic, philosophy and different Islamic sects. These early intellectual pursuits contributed a great deal to his future lectures and writings. Any subject, Ibn Taymiyyah tackled and wrote about, left the reader under the impression that this was his specific field of expertise. The total number of scholars from whom he took knowledge exceeds two hundred including four female teachers.
Ibn Taymiyyah started issuing legal verdicts at the age of nineteen and after his father's death assumed the respected teaching position formerly held by his father in Dar al Hadeeth as-Sukriyyah at the age of 22.
Kamalud-Din al-Zamalkaani (d.727), whom Shaikhul-Islam debated a number of times says accepting his merits, 'Whenever Shaikhul-Islam was asked any question concerning any field of knowledge, he replied in a way which caused the audience to conclude that he had no knowledge of any other field (i.e., he had spent his whole life in learning that particular branch of knowledge) and acknowledged him as the greatest authority on the subject. Scholars subscribing to different groups attended his discourses and each one of them learnt something that he had not known earlier. It never happened that he debated any point whereby the discussion came to a standstill. Whatever be the subject he spoke about, whether religious or discursive, he excelled all the authorities of that subject….' [Quoted from the book, 'Dawah Shaikhul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah wa-Athruha fi al-Harakat al-Islamiyyah al-Mu'asirah' by Salahud-Din Maqbool Ahmad]


Shaikhul-Islam had many direct students and multitudes were influenced by his teachings. He nurtured a strong and educated generation that escorted him in good times and in ordeals, whether it was in fighting the Tartars, or actions that forwarded the correct teachings of the religion like, the authoring of beneficial books, giving legal ruling and in commanding the good and forbidding evil. From the most prominent of his students were;

Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, Muhammad Ibn Abee Bakr (d. 751H), a close student of Shaikhul-Islam, who authored monumental books like Madarij as-Salikeen, Zaad al-M'aad, A'laam al-Mu'aqqieen, and others. Hafidh Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani (d.852) the author of Fath al-Baree says, 'If there was no other virtue of Shaikhul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah other than his famous student Shaikh Shams ad-Deen Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah author of beneficial books, from which have benefited friends and opponents - then it would have been enough to establish his noble status…' [Ar-Radd al-Waafir (pg. 231)]

Ibn Katheer, Imad al-Din Ismaa'eel (d. 774), who is considered one of the greatest historians and is the author of the renowned book, al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah, and the famous most-authentic Tafseer of the Qur'aan; Tafseer Ibn Katheer.

Adh-Dhahabee, Muhammad Ibn Ahmad, (d.748H) he was a master in the science of Hadeeth and a great historian. He authored nearly a hundred works, some of them of considerable size, like his twenty-three volume Siyar a`lam an-nubula (The Lives of Noble Figures), his thirty-six volume Tareekh al-Islam al-kabir (Major History of Islam).

      Intelligence, Vastness and Commitment to Knowledge:

Al-Hafidh Ibn Katheer says about Ibn Taymiyyah, 'It was rare for him to hear something and not memorize it and he occupied himself with the sciences. He was intelligent, had committed much to memory, and thus, became an Imam in Tafseer and what pertained to it. He had (comprehensive) knowledge of Fiqh, it was said that he had more knowledge of Fiqh of the madhhabs than the followers of those very same madhhabs in his time and other times. He was fully aware of the different opinions of scholars. He was a scholar in Usool, the branches of the religion, grammar and language and other textual and intellectual sciences. He was never overcome in a sitting and no noble (scholar) would speak to him on a particular science except that he thought that this science was the specialty of Ibn Taymiyyah and he would see him as being well versed in it and having perfected it… As for hadeeth, then he was the carrier of its flag, a Hafidh in hadeeth and able to distinguish the weak from the strong, fully acquainted with the narrators and being proficient in this…' [See, Bidayah wan-Nihayah (14/157)]
Al-Hafidh Badr ad-Deen al-Aynee al-Hanafee said, 'He is the Imam, the noble, the masterful, the pious, the pure, the devout, the proficient in the two sciences of Hadeeth and Tafseer, Fiqh and the two fundamentals (i.e., the Book and the Sunnah) with determination and precision. He is the sharp sword against the innovators, the authority, who established the matters of the religion and the great commander of the good and forbidder of evil. He possessed (noble) concern, bravery and embarked upon that which frightened and deterred. He was of much remembrance, fasting, prayer and worship.' [Ar-Radd al-Waafir, (pg. 159)]
Al-Hafidh al-Bazzaar said, ‘I have not seen him mention any of the pleasures and attractions of this world, he did not delve into worldly conversations and he never asked for any of its livelihood. Instead, he directed his attentions and conversations to seeking the Hereafter and what could get him closer to Allah.’ [Al-A'laam al-Uliyyah (pg.52) of al-Bazzaar]

Taken from As-Sunnah Newsletter -


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