As-Sunnah Vol. 2 Issue No. 8


False Allegations, Trials and Imprisonment

      False Allegations, Trials and Imprisonment:

Ibn Taymiyyah's popularity caused him to be a target of envy from various jurist and scholars who could not reach his level in knowledge, nor could they equal the love and respect that Ibn Taymiyyah enjoyed with the common masses. In addition to this, his bold stances against various innovative and heretical practices put him in direct conflict with many innovators, who repeatedly devised plots against him. The enviers and deviants found common cause in spreading lies or misinterpreting the writings of Ibn Taymiyyah.

Ibn Katheer writes, 'A group of the theologians was jealous of Shaikh Taqi ud-Din Ibn Taymiyyah because of his position in the court of the governor and also for his acting as a public censor who had taken upon himself the responsibility of enforcing what was lawful and preventing what was prohibited. They were envious of his growing popularity and of the love and respect accorded to him as well as of his learning and zeal for religion.' [Ibn Katheer, p. 37]

Al-Hafidh al-Bazzaar said depicting the opponents of Ibn Taymiyyah, 'You would not see a scholar opposing him (Ibn Taymiyyah), dissuading from him, filled with hatred for him, except that he was the most greedy of them in gathering the worldly goods, the most cunning of them in acquiring them, the most ostentatious of them, the most desirous for reputation…and the most prolific of them in having lies on his tongue.' [Al-A`laam al-Uliyyah (pg. 82)]

Some false beliefs that were attributed to Ibn Taymiyyah were those that he, himself refuted in his books. His fatawa and Ijtihads were misinterpreted and given conclusions that were far away from the truth. Ibn Taymiyyah's enemies also succeeded occasionally in inciting the rulers against him, leading to his imprisonment several times between 693H-728H and he passed away while in prison in the year 728H.
Ibn Taymiyyah was first arrested after he took a stance against a Christian who cursed the Prophet (salallahu alaihe wa-sallam) and violated his honor. Ibn Taymiyyah's enemies accused him with disturbing the peace, and complained to the sultan. This incident shows the extent of their aversion for Ibn Taymiyyah, that they gave priority to harming him over defending the right and honor of Allah's Messenger. It was in response to this incident that Ibn Taymiyyah wrote his book, 'Al-Saarim al-Maslool 'ala Shaatim al-Rasool' [see. Al-Bidaayah wan-Nihaayah 14/335] Among the other charges fabricated or exaggerated against Ibn Taymiyyah were the following;

Accusation 1: Tajseem/Tashbih: The allegation that Ibn Taymiyyah's writings approved of Allah having a body with parts. In truth, Ibn Taymiyyah's writings show the contrary, as he says, ‘Indeed the term al-Jism (body), al-Arad (organs), al-Mutahayyiz (extent) are newly invented terminologies. We have mentioned many a time before that the Salaf and the Imaams have not spoken about such things - neither by way of negation, nor by way of affirmation. Rather they declared those who spoke about such matter to be innovators, and went to great lengths to censure them.’ [See, Sharh Hadeeth an-Nuzool (pg. 69-76), Majmoo al-Fatawa Shaikhul-Islam (3/306-310, 13/304-305), Minhaj as-Sunnah an-Nabawiyyah (2/134-135, 192, 198-200, 527)]

In 'Sharh Hadeeth an-Nuzool', Shaikhul-Islam said that ascribing Allah with the term jism (meaning body) is, ‘an innovation in the Sharee'ah, a corruption of the language, and a contradiction to the [sound] intellect. Rather, it is repudiated by the Sharee'ah, the language and the [sound] intellect.’

Shaikhul-Islam's belief concerning the Names and Attributes of Allah is the same as that of the Salafus-Saleh as he writes in Al-Aqeedatil-Waastiyyah, p. 3, 'From Eeman in Allah is Eeman in what He has described Himself with and what His Messenger Muhammad (salallahu alaihe wa-sallam) has described Him with without alteration/distortions (in words/meaning) and denial, and without description and comparison…’
It is an obligation to believe in the Names and Attributes of Allah according to their literal meaning and to affirm their reality for Allah in a manner that suits Him, and that is for two reasons:

(i) Changing its literal meaning would be in contradiction to the way of the Prophet Muhammad (salallahu alaihe wa-sallam) and his companions.

(ii) Changing it to a figurative meaning would be speaking about Allah without knowledge and that is prohibited. [Notes on Aqeedah al-Wasitiyah by Allamah Ibn Uthaimeen (eng. trans. pg.63)]

For example, Allah says in the Qur'aan, '(Allah) said, 'O Iblees! What prevents you from prostrating yourself to one whom I have created with both My Hands? Are you too proud (to fall prostrate to Adam) or are you one of the highly exalted?' [Soorah Saad (38): 75]
This verse mentions the 'Hands of Allah', so we must believe in and affirm 'Hands' for Allah without describing them or comparing them with the Hands of the creation or doing Taweel (i.e. giving them a meaning other than their apparent meaning like saying that the 'Hands' mean 'Power'). Affirming Hands for Allah does not amount to Tashbeeh (resembling Allah to His creation).

Those who levied the charge of anthropomorphism on Ibn Taymiyyah did so because they found him opposed to their innovative way of Taweel in understanding the Attributes of Allah.

Whereas, the soundness of Ibn Taymiyyah's views and their conformity with Ahlus-Sunnah were well established even during his life-time. Ibn Katheer mentioned that when the scholars of his time gathered for a sitting with Ibn Taymiyyah to discuss his work 'Aqeedah al-Hamawiyyah' (in 698H) that his replies to their accusations could not be rebutted. [Al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah' (14/5)] The council concluded that al-Hamawiyyah contained nothing contrary to the Qur’aan or the Sunnah and therefore, vindicated him of any wrongdoing. [See. The Political Thought of Ibn Taymiyyah by Qamar-ud-deen Khan, p.3-4]

Similarly Ibn Katheer mentioned that when the scholars sat to argue with him with regards to his Aqeedah al-Wasitiyyah (in 705H) the argument ended with them accepting all that was contained in the book. [Al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah (vol. 14 under the heading 'Aqd al-Majaalis ath-Thalaatha)]
Yet, despite being vindicated, Ibn Taymiyyah was summoned again, but this time by the authorities in Egypt. A council, headed by one of the fiercest opponents of Ibn Taymiyyah, Qadhi Ibn Mukhluk Maliki, met him and Ibn Taymiyyah was not allowed to defend himself. A decree issued by the council resulted in his imprisonment (705H). Many pleaded incessantly for his release until, after a year had passed and he was offered to be set free if he renounced his creed. The offer was made to him as many as six times, but he always refused saying, 'The prison is dearer to me than what I am asked to affirm.' [Ibn Katheer, (14/42)]

Accusation 2: Ibn Taymiyyah forbids visiting the Prophet's Grave. The reality of this accusation is that Shaikhul-Islam held the view that one should not travel specifically to visit a certain place or grave intending worship with it. This opinion of Ibn Taymiyyah was based upon the Hadeeth of Allah's Messenger, 'Do not travel except to three Masjids, al-Masjid al-Haraam (in Mecca), the Prophet's (salallahu alaihe wa-sallam) Masjid and Masjid al-Aqsa.' [Saheeh al-Bukharee (Eng. Trans.) vol.2, p.157, no.281, Saheeh Muslim (Eng. Trans.) vol.2, p.699, no.3218), Sunan Abu Dawood (Eng. Trans.) vol.2, p.540, no.2028, Sunan at-Tirmidhee, Sunan an-Nisaee and Sunan Ibn Majah]

Ibn Taymiyyah writes, 'Whoever travels to al-Masjid al-Haraam (in Makkah), al-Masjid al-Aqsa (in Jerusalem), or the Messenger's masjid and at Masjid Qiba (close to Medina) and visits grave in that vincity will be performing righteous acts that conform to established the Prophetic Sunnah… As for whosoever travels for the sole purpose of visiting the Prophet's grave, not for the purpose of praying at his Masjid… so he visits the grave and then goes back home, then he is a deviant Mubtadi (innovator) who stands in defiance of the Prophet's Sunnah and the consensus of his companions and the scholars of this Ummah (Muslim nation)… This action was rejected by Imam Malik and other Imams and it is not recommended by any scholar… When the companions traveled to the Prophet's Masjid (after his death), they used to pray in it and meet the Prophet's successors, Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthmaan and then Ali. They recited the Salaam (Islamic greeting) and the Salaat (invoking Allah to honor and bless his Prophet) on the Prophet in the prayer (during the Tashahhud sitting) and upon entering and leaving the Masjid (as the Sunnah legislates); but they did not go near his grave. This practice is so widely reported from them that nothing to the contrary was reported of any of them.' [Majmoo al-Fatawa, vol.27, pg. 343]
There is a difference between visiting a grave and journeying to them. The first one is allowed, while the latter is prohibited. Ibn Taymiyyah's treatise regarding the visiting of graves was misinterpreted and led to his imprisonment in Shabaan 726H.

Accusation 3: Disrespect for the Prophets and the righteous. He was accused as such because he did not agree with the views of those who allowed tawassul by the person and status of the Prophets and the righteous. If a person takes the dead righteous people as intercessors between him and Allah, calling upon them to gain Allah's favor, then he has mimicked the way of Abu Jahl and Abu Lahb and his action is major kufr (disbelief). If one calls upon Allah directly and asks Allah 'by the right of so and so,' then this is an innovation. [Refer to The Rulings and Manners of Visiting the Prophet's Mosque by Shaikh Abdul-Aziz Ibn Baz (rahimahullah) published in As-Sunnah Issue no. 2 with explanatory footnotes]

Accusation 4: Making one's own Ijtihad instead of adhering to one particular Madhhab. In opposition to the general practice, Ibn Taymiyyah did not show prejudice towards a particular Madhhab and believed in the permissibility of Ijtihad when necessary. His Ijtihad on considering any number of divorce pronounced in one sitting to be counted as one, put him at odds with the position of all the four Madhhabs. He was imprisoned on account of this Ijtihad towards the end of his life.

Taken from As-Sunnah Newsletter -


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