Al-Hasan ibn 'Ali al-Barbahari
|Born||Baghdad, Iraq |
|Died||941 CE |
Al-Ḥasan ibn ʻAlī al-Barbahārī was a Sunni Islamic theologian from Iraq. His books are peppered with stinging remarks that place the Shias, Qadaris, Mu'tazilis and Ash'aris in an extremely negative light. He was responsible for a number of invasive pogroms and incidences of sectarian violence in 10th century Baghdad. Princeton University scholar of Islamic history Michael Cook has described al-Barbahari as a manifest demagogue.
Al-Barbahari was born in Baghdad, Iraq and learned from the students of Ahmad ibn Hanbal. Although al-Barbahari was an adherent of the Hanbalite school of jurisprudence, his contributions to the field were negligible. Abu-al-Faraj ibn Al-Jawzi eulogized al-Barbahari's stern oratory style:
He gathered knowledge and abstention from this world... and was strong against the people of innovation.
Al-Barbahari had several widely known students including the famed scholar Ibn Battah. His status as an authority within the Hanbali school wasn't universal, however, and al-Barbahari and his students were often in conflict with Abu Bakr al-Khallal, generally considered to be the sole preserver and codifier of the school. While al-Barbahari contributed little to jurisprudence, he was well-known as a polemicist. His book Sharh as-Sunnah was written to educate the largely unsophisticated Hanbalites in methods to identify heretics, and advocated a fear-based system of religious worship. Theologian Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari's seminal work Ibanah was essentially a critique of the Hanbalite dogmatists in general and al-Barbahari in particular.
Al-Barbahari was the leader of a number of violent, invasive pogroms during the Abbasid Caliphate in Baghdad due to sectarian views. His audience was strong in the Hanbalite quarter of the city. He was very influential among the urban lower classes, and exploited popular grievances to foment what often turned into mob violence against religious minorities and supposed sinners. Under the influence of al-Barbahari and popular pressure of his followers, the Caliphs Al-Muqtadir and Al-Qahir enforced Hanbalism as the state creed, executing al-Barbahari's enemies and even burying renowned Muslim historian Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari, considered a heretic by al-Barbahari as well as most Hanbalites at the time, in secret due to fears of mob violence were a funeral to be held at the public graveyard.
The efforts of al-Barbahari and the Baghdad Hanbalites were put to an end in 935 by the new Caliph Ar-Radi. Al-Barbahari had ordered mobs to break into any homes suspected of containing wine or musical instruments and organized groups of men to interrogate couples in public streets to ensure conservative conduct in public. The mobs looted shops, not all necessarily selling illegal contraband, and physically attacked female entertainers. Ar-Radi ended the favored status of the Hanbalites, condeming them publicly for promoting anthropotheism, assault, persecution of Shia Muslims and veneration of the grave of Ahmad ibn Hanbal while simultaneously prohibiting the veneration of graves of Ali and his descendants.
- "May God have mercy on you! Examine carefully the speech of everyone you hear from in your time particularly. So do not act in haste and do not enter into anything from it until you ask and see: Did any of the Companions of the Prophet speak about it or any of the scholars?"
- "The innovators are like scorpions. They bury their heads and bodies in the sand and leave their tails out. When they get the chance they sting; the same with the innovators who conceal themselves amongst the people, when they are able, they do what they desire."
- Explanation of the Creed, pg. 7
- Explanation of the Creed
- Ira M. Lapidus, Islamic Societies to the Nineteenth Century: A Global History, pg. 192. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012. ISBN 9780521514415
- Michael Cook, Forbidding Wrong in Islam: An Introduction, pg. 103. Volume 3 of Themes in Islamic History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. ISBN 9780521536028
- Christopher Melchert, The Formation of the Sunni Schools of Law: 9th-10th Centuries C.E., pg. 150. Issue 4 of Studies in Islamic Law and Society, V. 4. Leiden: Brill Publishers, 1997. ISBN 9789004109520
- Joseph Norment Bell, Love Theory in Later Ḥanbalite Islam, pg. 49. Albany: SUNY Press, 1979. ISBN 9780791496237
- Richard M. Frank, Early Islamic Theology: The Mu'tazilites and al-Ash'ari, Texts and studies on the development and history of kalām, vol. 2, pg. 172. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing, 2007. ISBN 9780860789789
- A Medieval Critique of Anthropomorphism: Ibn Al-Jawzī's Kitāb Akhbār Aṣ-Ṣifāt, pg. 98. Ed. Merlin L. Swartz. Volume 46 of Islamic philosophy and theology: Texts and studies. Leiden: Brill Publishers, 2002. ISBN 9789004123762
- Gerhard Böwering, The Mystical Vision of Existence in Classical Islam: The Qur'anic Hermeneutics of the Sufi Sahl At-Tustari, Parts 283-896, pg. 89. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1979. ISBN 9783110837056
- Joel L. Kraemer, Humanism in the Renaissance of Islam: The Cultural Revival During the Buyid Age, pg. 61. Volume 7 of Studies in Islamic culture and history. Leiden: Brill Publishers, 1992. ISBN 9789004097360
- Christopher Melchert, Studies in Islamic Law and Society, vol. 4, pg. 151. Leiden: Brill Publishers, 1997.
- Joel L. Kraemer, pg. 62.
- Tabaqatu l-Hanabilati, Vol. 2, Page 44