Ahmad ibn Taymiyya
|Born||661 AH, or 1263 CE|
|Died||728 AH, or 1328 (aged 64–65)
|Era||High Middle Ages|
|Region||Middle Eastern Scholar|
|Notable idea(s)||Return to Tawhid, Mill's theory, inductive logic, analogical reasoning, critique of syllogism|
Taqi ad-Din Ahmad ibn Taymiyyah (January 22, 1263 – 1328 CE), full name: Taqī ad-Dīn Abu 'l-ʿAbbās Aḥmad ibn ʿAbd al-Ḥalīm ibn ʿAbd as-Salām Ibn Taymiya al-Ḥarrānī (Arabic: تقي الدين أبو العباس أحمد بن عبد الحليم بن عبد السلام بن عبد الله ابن تيمية الحراني), was an Islamic scholar (alim), theologian and logician. He lived during the troubled times of the Mongol invasions. He was a member of the school founded by Ahmad ibn Hanbal, and is considered by his followers, along with Ibn Qudamah, as one of the two most significant proponents of Hanbalism; in the modern era, his adherents often refer to the two as "the two sheikhs and Sheikh ul-Islam. Ibn Taymiyyah was notable for having sought the return of Islam to what he viewed as earlier interpretations of the Qur'an and the Sunnah.
Ibn Taymiyya was born in 1263 in Harran town of Şanlıurfa province of modern day Turkey into a well-known family of theologians and died in Damascus, Syria, outside of the Muslim cemetery. His grandfather, Abu al-Barkat Majd ad-deen ibn Taymiyyah al-Hanbali (d. 1255) was a reputable teacher of the Hanbali school of law. Likewise, the scholarly achievements of ibn Taymiyyah's father, Shihab al-deen 'Abd al-Haleem ibn Taymiyyah (d. 1284) were well known. Because of the Mongol invasion, ibn Taymiyyah's family moved to Damascus in 1268, which was then ruled by the Mamluks of Egypt. It was here that his father delivered sermons from the pulpit of the Umayyad Mosque, and Ibn Taymiyyah followed in his footsteps by studying with the scholars of his time.
As for the religious sciences, he studied jurisprudence from his father and became a representative of the Hanbali school of thought. Though he remained faithful throughout his life to that school, whose doctrines he had mastered, he also acquired a knowledge of the Islamic disciplines of the Qur'an and the Hadith. He also studied theology (kalam), philosophy, and Sufism. He was known for his refutations of the excesses of many Sufis,and the Christians. His student Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya wrote the famous poem "O Christ-Worshipper" which examined the dogma of the Trinity propounded by many Christian sects.
His troubles with government began when he went with a delegation of ulama to talk to Ghazan Khan, the Khan of the Mongol Ilkhans in Iran, to stop his attack on the Muslims. It is reported that none of the ulama dared to say anything to the Khan except Ibn Taymiyyah who said:
"You claim that you are Muslim and you have with you Mu'adhdhins, Muftis, Imams and Shaykhs but you invaded us and reached our country for what? While your father and your grandfather, Hulagu were non-believers, they did not attack and they kept their promise. But you promised and broke your promise."
Ibn Taymiya was imprisoned several times for conflicting with the ijma of jurists and theologians of his day. He spent his last fifteen years in Damascus. The most famous of his students, Ibn Qayyim, was to share in Ibn Taymiyyah's renewed persecutions. From August 1320 to February 1321 Ibn Taymiyyah was imprisoned on orders from Cairo in the citadel of Damascus for supporting a doctrine that would curtail the ease with which a Muslim man could divorce his wife.
When he was ultimately banned from having any books, further charges of heresy were brought against Ibn Taymiyya for his assertion that a divorce pronounced in innovative fashion does not take effect, against the consensus of the scholars which stipulated that it does, though innovative. After spending the years 1319-21 in jail, he was jailed again in 1326 until his death two years later for declaring that one who travels to visit the Prophet's grave commits innovation (bidah). His burial was attended by about 50,000 people. His student al-Dhahabi praised him lavishly as "the brilliant shaykh, imam, erudite scholar, censor, jurist, mujtahid, and commentator of the Qur'an," but acknowledged that Ibn Taymiyya's disparaging manners alienated even his admirers. For example, the grammarian Abu Hayyan praised Ibn Taymiyya until he found out that he believed himself a greater expert in the Arabic language than Sibawayh, whereupon he disassociated himself from his previous praise. Ibn Taymiyyah's admirers often deemed him as Sheikh ul-Islam, an honorific title with which he is sometimes still termed today. He may be considered at the root of many later reformist movements, particularly the Al-Wahhabiyya and later radical Islamist.
Ibn Taymiyyah was accused by his opponents of being anthropomorphic in his stance towards Names and Attributes of God. However, in his celebrated work Al-Aqidah Al-Waasitiyyah, Ibn Taymiyyah refutes the stance of the Mushabbihah (those who liken the creation with God: anthropomorphism) and those who deny, negate, and resort to allegorical/metaphorical interpretations of the Divine Names and Attributes. He contends that the methodology of the Salaf is to take the middle path between the extremes of anthropomorphism and negation/distortion. He further states that Salaf affirmed all the Names and Attributes of God without tashbih (establishing likeness), takyeef (speculating as to "how" they are manifested in the divine), ta'teel (negating/denying their apparent meaning) and without ta'weel (giving it secondary/symbolic meaning which is different from the apparent meaning). Ibn Taymiyyah's highly intellectual discourse at explaining "The Wise Purpose of God, Human Agency, and the Problems of Evil & Justice" using God's attributes as a means has been illustrated by Dr. Jon Hoover in his work "Ibn Taymiyyah's Theodicy of Perpetual Optimism".
Mongol invasion and other struggles
What has been called Ibn Taymiyyah's "most famous" fatwā was issued against the Mongols in the Mamluk's war. Ibn Taymiyyah declared that jihad upon the Mongols was not only permissible, but obligatory. He based this ruling his argument that the Mongols could not, in his opinion, be true Muslims despite the fact that they had converted to Sunni Islam because they ruled using what he considered 'man-made laws' (their traditional Yassa code) rather than Islamic law or Sharia. Because of this, he reasoned they were living in a state of jahiliyyah, or pre-Islamic pagan ignorance.
Apart from that, he led the resistance of the Mongol invasion of Damascus in 1300. In the years that followed, Ibn Taymiyyah was engaged in intensive polemic activity against:
- the Rifa'i Sufi order,
- the ittihadiyah school, a school that grew out of the teaching of Ibn Arabi, whose views were widely denounced as heretical.
In 1306 Ibn Taymiyyah was imprisoned in the citadel of Cairo for eighteen months on the charge of anthropomorphism. He was incarcerated again in 1308 for several months.
In 2010 a group of Islamic Scholars in Mardin argued that Ibn Taymiyya's fatwa was misprinted into an order to "fight" the ruler who is not applying Islamic law, but rather it means to "treat." They have based their understanding on the original manuscript in the Al-Zahiriyah Library, and the transmission by Ibn Taymiyya's student Ibn Muflih.
Ibn Taymiyyah censured the scholars for blindly conforming to the precedence of early jurists without any resort to the Qur'an and Sunnah. He contended that although juridical precedence has its place, blindly giving it authority without contextualization, sensitivity to societal changes, and evaluative mindset in light of the Qur'an and Sunnah can lead to ignorance and stagnancy in Islamic Law. Ibn Taymiyyah likened the extremism of Taqlid (blind conformity to juridical precedence or school of thought) to the practice of Jews and Christians who took their rabbis and ecclesiastics as gods besides God.
Ibn Taymiyyah held that much of the Islamic scholarship of his time had declined into modes that were inherently against the proper understanding of the Qur'an and the Sunnah. He strove to:
- revive the Islamic faith's understanding of true adherence to Tawhid,
- eradicate beliefs and customs that he held to be foreign to Islam, and
- to rejuvenate correct Islamic thought and its related sciences.
Ibn Taymiyyah believed that the first three generations of Islam (Salaf) – Muhammad, his companions, and the followers of the companions from the earliest generations of Muslims – were the best role models for Islamic life. Their practice, together with the Qur'an, constituted a seemingly infallible guide to life. Any deviation from their practice was viewed as bid‘ah, or innovation, and to be forbidden. He also praised and wrote a commentary on some of the speeches of Abdul-Qadir Gilani. He criticized the views and actions of the Rafaiyah.
Ibn Taymiyyah strongly opposed borrowing from Christianity or other non-Muslim religions. In his text On the Necessity of the Straight Path (kitab iqtida al-sirat al-mustaqim) he preached that the beginning of Muslim life was the point at which "a perfect dissimilarity with the non-Muslims has been achieved." To this end he opposed the celebration of the observance of the birthday of the Islamic prophet Muhammad or the construction of mosques around the tombs of Sufi saints saying: "Many of them [the Muslims] do not even know of the Christian origins of these practices."
Ibn Taymiyyah opposed giving any undue religious honors to mosques (even that of Jerusalem, the Al-Aqsa Mosque), to approach or rival in any way the Islamic sanctity of the two most holy mosques within Islam,Masjid al-Haram (in Mecca) and Al-Masjid al-Nabawi (in Madina).
Ibn Taymiyyah eulogized the Ghaznavid ruler, stating that:
He commanded that Ahlul Bidah (the people of religious innovation) be publicly condemned in sermons from the minbars (pulpits) and, as a result, the Jahmiyyah,, Hulooliyah, Mu'tazilah, and Qadariyah were all publicly denounced, along with the Asharites.
Later, Ibn Taymiyyah argued against the certainty of syllogistic arguments and in favour of analogy (qiyas). He argues that concepts founded on induction are themselves not certain but only probable, and thus a syllogism based on such concepts is no more certain than an argument based on analogy. He further claimed that induction itself depends on a process of analogy. His model of analogical reasoning was based on that of juridical arguments. Work by John F. Sowa has used Ibn Taymiyyah's model of analogy.
He elaborated a circumstantial analysis of the market mechanism, with a theoretical insight unusual in his time. His discourses on the welfare advantages and disadvantages of market regulation and deregulation, have an almost contemporary ring to them.
Ibn Taymiyyah commenting on the power of supply and demand:
"If desire for goods increases while its availability decreases, its price rises. On the other hand, if availability of the good increases and the desire for it decreases, the price comes down."
Ibn Taymiyyah left a considerable body of work (350 works listed by his student Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya and 500 by his student al-Dhahabi) that has been republished extensively in Syria, Egypt, Arabia, and India. Extant books and essays written by ibn Taymiyyah include:
- A Great Compilation of Fatwa—(Majmu al-Fatwa al-Kubra) This was collected centuries after his death, and contains several of the works mentioned below.
- Minhaj as-Sunnah an-Nabawiyyah—(The Pathway of as-Sunnah an-Nabawiyyah)—Volumes 1–4
- Al-Aqidah Al-Waasitiyyah—(The Creed to the People of Wāsiṭ)
- Darʾ taʿāruḍ al-ʿaql wa al-naql (The rejection of the conflict between reason and revelation)—10 Volumes. Also called Al-Muwāfaqa ("harmony").
- Majmoo' al-Fatawa—(Compilation of Fatawa) Volumes 1–36
- al-Aqeedah Al-Hamawiyyah—(The Creed to the People of Hama, Syria)
- al-Asma wa's-Sifaat—(Allah's Names and Attributes) Volumes 1–2
- al-Jawab as Sahih li man Baddala Din al-Masih (Literally, "The Correct Response to those who have Corrupted the Deen (Religion) of the Messiah"; A Muslim theologian's response to Christianity)—seven volumes, over a thousand pages.
- as-Sarim al-Maslul ‘ala Shatim ar-Rasul—The Drawn Sword against those who insult the Messenger. Written in response to an incident in which Ibn Taymiyyah heard a Christian insulting Muhammad. The book is well-known because he wrote it entirely by memory, while in jail, and quoting more than hundreds of references.
- Fatawa al-Kubra
- Fatawa al-Misriyyah
- ar-Radd 'ala al-Mantiqiyyin (Refutation of Greek Logicians)
- Naqd at-Ta'sis
- al-Uboodiyyah—(Subjection to God)
- Iqtida' as-Sirat al-Mustaqim'—(Following The Straight Path)
- al-Siyasa al-shar'iyya
- at-Tawassul wal-Waseela
- Sharh Futuh al-Ghayb—(Commentary on Revelations of the Unseen by Abdul-Qadir Gilani)
Some of his other works have been translated to English. They include:
- The Friends of Allah and the Friends of Shaytan
- Kitab al Iman: The Book of Faith
- Diseases of the Hearts and their Cures
- The Relief from Distress
- Fundamentals of Enjoining Good & Forbidding Evil
- The Concise Legacy
- The Goodly Word
- The Madinan Way
- Ibn Taymiyya against the Greek logicians
- Muslims Under Non-Muslim Rule
- Kepel, Gilles – Muslim extremism in Egypt: The Prophet and pharaoh. With a new preface for 2003. Translated from French by Jon Rothschild. Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2003. See p. 194–199.
- Little, Donald P. – "Did Ibn Taymiyya have a screw loose?", Studia Islamica, 1975, Number 41, pp. 93–111.
- Makdisi, G. – "Ibn Taymiyya: A Sufi of the Qadiriya Order", American Journal of Arabic Studies, 1973
- Sivan, Emmanuel – Radical Islam: Medieval theology and modern politics. Enlarged edition. New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 1990. See p. 94–107.
- Michot, Yahya – Ibn Taymiyya: Against Extremisms. Texts translated, annotated and introduced. With a foreword by Bruce B. LAWRENCE. Beirut & Paris: Albouraq, 2012, xxxii & 334 p. — EAN 9782841615551.
- Michot, Yahya – Ibn Taymiyya: Muslims under non-Muslim Rule. Texts translated, annotated and presented in relation to six modern readings of the Mardin fatwa. Foreword by James Piscatori. Oxford & London: Interface Publications, 2006. ISBN 0-9554545-2-2.
- Michot, Yahya – Ibn Taymiyya’s “New Mardin Fatwa”. Is genetically modified Islam (GMI) carcinogenic?", in "The Muslim World", 101/2, April 2011, p. 130-181.
- Michot, Yahya – From al-Ma’mūn to Ibn Sab‘īn, via Avicenna: Ibn Taymiyya’s Historiography of Falsafa", in F. OPWIS & D. REISMAN (eds.), "Islamic Philosophy, Science, Culture, and Religion". Studies in Honor of Dimitri Gutas (Leiden – Boston: Brill, 2012), p. 453-475.
- Michot, Yahya – Between Entertainment and Religion: Ibn Taymiyya’s Views on Superstition", in "The Muslim World", 99/1, January 2009, p. 1-20.
- Michot, Yahya – Misled and Misleading… Yet Central in their Influence: Ibn Taymiyya’s Views on the Ikhwān al-Safā’", in "The Ikhwān al-Safā’ and their Rasā’il. An Introduction". Edited by Nader EL-BIZRI. Foreword by Farhad DAFTARY (Oxford: Oxford University Press, in association with the Institute of Ismaili Studies, « Epistles of the Brethren of Purity »), 2008, p. 139-179.
- Michot, Yahya – Ibn Taymiyya’s Commentary on the Creed of al-Hallâj", in A. SHIHADEH (ed.), "Sufism and Theology" (Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 2007), p. 123-136.
- Michot, Yahya – A Mamlûk Theologian’s Commentary on Avicenna’s Risāla Aḍḥawiyya". Being a Translation of a Part of the "Dar’ al-Ta‘āruḍ" of Ibn Taymiyya, with Introduction, Annotation, and Appendices, Part I, in "Journal of Islamic Studies", 14:2, Oxford, 2003, p. 149-203.
- Michot, Yahya – A Mamlûk Theologian’s Commentary on Avicenna’s Risāla Aḍḥawiyya". Being a Translation of a Part of the "Dar’ al-Ta‘āruḍ" of Ibn Taymiyya, with Introduction, Annotation, and Appendices, Part II, in "Journal of Islamic Studies", 14:3, Oxford, 2003, p. 309-363.
- Michot, Yahya – Ibn Taymiyya on Astrology". Annotated Translation of Three Fatwas, in "Journal of Islamic Studies", 11/2, Oxford, May 2000, p. 147-208.
- "Ibn Taymiyya, Taqi al-Din (661-728 AH)/ (1263–1328 CE)". Muslimphilosophy.com. Retrieved 2010-06-09.
- "Ibn Taymiyyah: Profile and Biography". Atheism.about.com. 2009-10-29. Retrieved 2010-06-09.
- Mountains of Knowledge, pg 222
- Abu Zayd Bakr bin Abdullah, Madkhal al-mufassal ila fiqh al-Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal wa-takhrijat al-ashab. Riyadh: Dar al 'Aminah, 2007
- see aqidatul-waasitiyyah daarussalaam publications
- "SCHOLARS BIOGRAPHIES \ 8th Century \ Shaykh al-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah". Fatwa-online.com. Retrieved 2010-06-09.
- R. Hrair Dekmejian, Islam in revolution: fundamentalism in the Arab world, pg. 40. Part of the Contemporary issues in the Middle East series. Syracuse University Press, 1995. ISBN 9780815626350
- Index of Al Qaeda in its own words, pg. 360. Eds. Gilles Kepel and Jean-pierre Milelli. Harvard University Press, 2008. ISBN 9780674028043
- David Bukay, From Muhammad to Bin Laden: Religious and Ideological Sources of the Homicide Bombers Phenomenon, pg. 194. Transaction Publishers, 2011. ISBN 9781412809139
- "He has strongly influenced modern Islam for the last two centuries. He is the source of the Wahhābīyah, a strictly traditionist movement founded by Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb (died 1792), who took his ideas from Ibn Taymiyyah’s writings. Ibn Taymiyyah also influenced various reform movements that have posed the problem of reformulating traditional ideologies by a return to sources.
- Ibn Taymiyyah. Sharh-Al-Aqeedat-Il-Wasitiyah. Dar us Salam Publications. "The followers of Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama'ah occupy a moderate position between the Ahlut Ta'teel (Jahmiyyah) and Ahlut Tamtheel (Mushabbiha), and are moderate between the Jabariyah sect and the Qadariyah sect regarding the Acts of Allah, and are moderate about the Promises of Allah between the Murji'ah and the Wa'eediyah sects among Qadariyah and are moderate on matters of the Faith and names of the religion between the Harooriyah and Mu'tazilah, and between the Murji'ah and Jahmiyah and are moderate regarding the Companions of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, between the Wa'eediyah and the Khawarij."
- Hoover, Jon (2007). Ibn Taymiyya's Theodicy of Perpetual Optimism ([Online-Ausg.]. ed.). Leiden: Brill. pp. xii, 276. ISBN 9789004158474.
- Janin, Hunt. Islamic law : the Sharia from Muhammad's time to the present by Hunt Janin and Andre Kahlmeyer , McFarland and Co. Publishers, 2007 p.79
- "Taqi al-Deen Ahmad Ibn Taymiyya". Pwhce.org. Retrieved 2010-06-09.
- Kepel, Gilles, The Prophet and the Pharaoh, (2003), p.194
- al-Turayri,, Shaykh Abd al-Wahhab. "The Mardin Conference – Understanding Ibn Taymiyyah’s Fatwa". MuslimMatters. Retrieved 29 May 2011.
- "A religious basis for violence misreads original principles". thenational.ae. Retrieved 2012-10-04.
- G. F. Haddad (1996-03-20). "IBN TAYMIYYA ON FUTOOH AL-GHAYB AND SUFISM". Retrieved 2011-03-24.
- Muhammad `Umar Memon, Ibn Taymiyya's Struggle against Popular Religion, with an annotated translation of Kitab Iqitada, the Hague, (1976) p.78, 210
- "A Muslim Iconoclast (Ibn Taymiyyeh) on the 'Merits' of Jerusalem and Palestine", by Charles D. Matthews, Journal of the American Oriental Society, volume 56 (1935), pp. 1–21. [Includes Arabic text of manuscript of Ibn Taymiyya's short work Qa'ida fi Ziyarat Bayt-il-Maqdis قاعدة في زيارة بيت المقدس]
- al-Jasim, pg. 155
- Ruth Mas (1998). "Qiyas: A Study in Islamic Logic". Folia Orientalia 34: 113–128. ISSN 0015-5675.
- John F. Sowa; Arun K. Majumdar (2003). "Analogical reasoning". Conceptual Structures for Knowledge Creation and Communication, Proceedings of ICCS 2003. Berlin: Springer-Verlag., pp. 16–36
- Baeck, Louis (1994). The Mediterranean tradition in economic thought. Routledge. p. 99. ISBN 0-415-09301-5.
- Hosseini, Hamid S. (2003). "Contributions of Medieval Muslim Scholars to the History of Economics and their Impact: A Refutation of the Schumpeterian Great Gap". In Biddle, Jeff E.; Davis, Jon B.; Samuels, Warren J. A Companion to the History of Economic Thought. Malden, MA: Blackwell. p. 28. doi:10.1002/9780470999059.ch3. ISBN 0-631-22573-0
- "Ibn Taimiyah". Usc.edu. Retrieved 2010-06-09.
- M.M. Sharif, A History of Muslim Philosophy, Pakistan Philosophical Congress, p. 798
- "Ibn Taymiyyah wrote the entire book ‘as-Sarim al-Maslul’ from memory!". Iskandrani.wordpress.com. 2008-02-07. Retrieved 2010-06-09.
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
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