The Ahl al-Sunnah View of Ibn Taymiya and his Works
The following article is written by a Sunni brother
Ibn Taymiya and his writings and those of his students have recently
been used by "Wahabbis" and "Reformists" to provide evidence against
madhaib and the Aqueedah of Ahl al-Sunnah wal Jamaat (The Four Schools).
As can be seen from the following brief biography, taken from "The
Reliance of the Traveller" which is an AUTHENTIC book of fiqh, Ibn
Taymiya (Rahim-ullah) was considered an innovaitor and a heretic and
some scholars went so far as to declare his writings as Kufr.
Ibn Taymiya is Ahmad Ibn Abd al-Salaam ibn Abdullah, Abu al-Abbas Taqi
al-Din ibn Taymiya al-Harrani, born in Harran, east of Damascus, in
661/1263. A famous Hanbali scholar in Qur'anic exegesis (tafsir),
hadith and jurisprudence, Ibn Taymiya was a voracious reader and
author of great personal courage who was endowed with a compelling
writing style and a keen memory. Dhahabi wrote of him, "I never saw
anyone faster at recalling the Qur'anic verses dealing with subjects
he was discussing, or anyone who could remember hadith texts more
vividly." Dhahabi estimates that his legal opinions on various
subjects amount to three-hundred or more volumes.
He was imprisoned during much of his life in Cairo, Alexandria, and
Damascus for his writings, scholars of his time accusing him of
believing Allah to be a corporeal entity because of what he mentioned
in his al-aqida al-Hamawiyya and al-Wasitiyya and other works, such as
that Allah's 'hand', 'foot', 'shin' and 'face' are literal (haqiqi)
attributes, and that He is upon the Throne in person.
The error in
this is suggesting such attributes are literal is an innovation and
unjustifiable inferance from the Qur'anic and hadith texts that
mention them, for the way of early Muslims was mere acceptance of such
expressions on faith without saying how they are meant, and without
additions, subtractions, or substituting meanings imagined to be
synonyms, while acknowledging Allah's absolute transcedence beyond the
characteristics of created things, in conformity with the Qur'anic
verse "There is nothing whatsoever like unto him" [Qur'an 42:11]. As
for figurative interpretations that preserve the divine transcendence,
scholars of tenents of faith have only had recourse to them in times
when men of reprehensible innovation (bid'a), quoting hadiths and
Qur'anic verses, have caused confusion in the minds of common Muslims
as to whether Allah has attributes like those of His creation or
whether He is transcendently beyond any image conceivable to the minds
Scholars' firmness in condemning those who have raised such
confusions has traditionally been very uncompromising, and this is no
doubt the reason that a number of the Imams of the Shafi'i school,
among them Taqi al-Din Subki, Ibn Hajar Haytami and al-Izz ibn Jama'a,
gave formal legal opinions (fatawa) that Ibn Taymiya was misguided and
misguiding in tenents of faith, and warned people from accepting his
theories. The Hanafi scholar Muhammad Zahid al-Kawthari has written
"Whoever thinks that all the scholars of his time joined in a single
conspiracy against him from personal envy should rather impugn their
own intelligence and understanding, after studying the repugnance of
his deviations in beliefs and works, for which he was asked to repent
time after time and moved from prison to prison until he passed on to
what he'd sent ahead."
While few deny that Ibn Taymiya was a copious and eloquent writer and
hadith scholar, his career, like that of others, demonstrates that a
man may be outstanding in one field and yet suffer from radical
deficiencies in another, the most reliable index of which is how a
field's Imams regard his work in it. By this measure, indeed, by the
standards of all previous Ahl al-Sunnah scholars, it is clear that
despite voluminous and influential written legacy, Ibn Taymiya cannot
be considered an authority on tenents of faith (aqueeda), a field in
which he made mistakes profoundly incompatible with the beliefs of
Islam, as also with a number of his legal views that violated the
scholarly consensus (ijma) of Sunni Muslims.
It should be remembered that such matters are not the province of personal reasoning (ijtihad),whether Ibn Taymiya considered them to be so out of sincere conviction,or whether simply because, as Imam Subki said, "his learning exceeded his intelligence." He died in Damascus in 728/1328.
English/Arabic Traditional Sunni Manual of Shari`ah
Reliance of the Traveller (`Umdat al-Salik):
A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law (Fiqh)
By Ahmad ibn al-Naqib al-Misri (d.769/1386)
Translated by Noah Ha Mim Keller
English/Arabic (dual columns)
xxii+1232 pages, Hardcover
Published by Sunna Books 1991, 1993
`Umdat al-Salik in Arabic with facing English Text, Commentary,
Appendices, Biographical Notes, Bibliography and Index
*`Umdat al-Salik is a traditional Fiqh manual by Ibn al-Naqib
It summerizes the conclusions of Imam al-Nawawi (d.676/1277),the great
Hadith scholar and Shafi`i jurisprudent. It is based mainly on
al-Nawawi's Fiqh works; al-Majmu` and al-Minhaj.
*Reliance of the Traveller contains `Umdat al-Salik in Arabic
with facing English translation, Commentary, Appendices, Biographical
Notes about every person mentioned (391 biographies), Bibliography of
each work mentioned (136 works), and a detailed subject Index
(95 pages). The Appendices form an integral part of the book and
present readers with original texts and translation from classical
works by Imam al-Nawawi, al-Ghazali, al-Dhahabi and other famous
scholars on many Islamic topics such as Islamic Law (Fiqh), Principles
of Jurisprudence (Usul al-Fiqh), Faith (Iman/`Aqidah), Spirituality
(Tazkiyah/Suluk). Of the 136 works drawn upon in its commentary and
appendices, 134 are in the original Arabic. The sections and
paragraphs have been numbered to facilitate cross-reference which is
*Noah Ha Mim Keller is an American Muslim who produced this work
in Damascus and Amman from 1982 to 1990. He studied the book word
by word in the traditional way with two Shaykh-s (teachers) over a
period of five years after which they gave him their written warrant
(ijazah) to expound the book and translate it into English.
"...We certify that the above-mentioned translation corresponds to the
Arabic original and conforms to the practice and faith of the
orthodox Sunni Community (Ahl al-Sunna wa al-Jama`a)..."
Islamic Research Academy (Majma` al-Buhuth al-Islamiyyah), al-Azhar.
al-Azhar is the Muslim world's most prestigious institution of higher
Islamic learning, Cairo.
The following article is written by a Sunni brother
From: email@example.com (Walid Dabbous)
Subject: Re: Ahl al-Sunnah and Ibn Taymiya
as-Salamou alykum wa rahmatoullahi wa barakatouh,
I agree with brother Masud when he says that we can NOT rely
on ibn taymiyya in matters os aqueedah in the end part of his
posting (I only pur the beginning here above).
Someone was defending ibn taymiyya a few weeks, so please
find a contribution on this subject taken from the aqueedah
of Ahl-es-Sunna wal Jamaa (ashaira wa maturidiyya).
In article <firstname.lastname@example.org>, U58369@uicvm.uic.edu writes:
Assalamo Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatu
Concerning the accusation of Ibn Taymiyyah that he attempted to ascribe
qualities to Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala: Some of the people who lived in
era as Ibn Taymiyyah accused him of this and they had no proof to back
accusations whatsoever. The people after them received this information
what Ibn Batutah collected. As most of us know, Ibn Batutah was not a
either of hadith OR aquidah. Besides, he never met nor heard Ibn
speak. The biography of Ibn Taymiyyah shows that he always strongly
those people who attempted to ascribe human qualities to Allah Subhana
(See Hayat Sheikh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah by Muhammad al-Baytar). You
more proofs in Ibn Taymiyyah's book, Sharh Hadith An-Nuzool (Commentary
Hadith of Nuzool). There are many proofs that Ibn Taymiyyah had the
lief and aquidah as the Sahabah and the scholars of As-Salaf. To show
example: Ibn Taymiyyah says in his book, al-Aquidah al-Wasitiya, pg. 9,
from the belief in Allah is the belief in what Allah ascribed for
the Quran and in the Sunnah without falsifying or denying or "takeef"
question how his attributes are). And he quotes this ayah from the
ah al-Shurah, Ayah 11:
...there is nothing whatsoever like unto Him and He is the one
that hears and sees.
And Ibn Taymiyyah explains that the Muslims from Ahl al-Sunnah wa
what Allah ascribed to Himself & don't falsify His words. And they
in all His names and ayat. And they don't make comparisons between
his creatures because there is nothing like Him. And Allah knows best
everything and about Himself.
This is one of many examples that proves that Ibn Taymiyyah never
"tashbeeh" (ie-never attempted to ascribe human qualities to Allah).
I read many of ibn taymiyya books and the books wrote by other
scholars to refute him. It is very clear that ibn taymiyya was refuted
by the majority of scholars. he was accused not to belong to the
Salafi school. I showed this in a previous message and I will repost
this message soon in sha'a Allah. The scholars of Ahl eSunna wal Jamaa
from the 4 schools refuted his opinions and ibn taymiyya always tried
to escape from punishment by saying the 2 shahadas.
ibn taymiyya and his disciple ibn aljawziyya (different from the great
hanbali scholar Ibn alJawzi) are not considered to belong to the
salafi school. ibn taymiyya was put in jail because of many of his
wrong teachings concerning the aqeeda. He was not put in jail by some
tyranic ruler. He was put in jail to preserve the people from his
ideas. (See Rihlat Ibn Battoutah where ibn battoutah said: when i
came to damascus there was a man called ibn taymiyya speaking about
religion science, but there was something strange in his mind...
Oncehe was doing "kutbat aljuma'a" and he said yanzilou rabbuna ila
assam'a adunya, then he went down two steps on the minbar and he said
"kanuzuli hatha" (like my descending). the people of damascus jumped
on him and wanted to kill him. al-'imam al-mujtahid asSubkiy wrote
many books to refute ibn taymiya. This event of ibn Taymiya is
registered by the bokks of history and they are available and may be
the Muslims need to read them or some of their contents. Ibn Taymiyah
was put in jail by the agreement of the Muslim scholars of Egypt and
ashSham. His imprisonment came as a result of the ijma^ of the
scholars of his age..
In addition, not only ibn battouta spoke about ibn taymiyya but a lot
of scholars wrote books and letters to warn the people from this man.
i have a long list of these Ulema and their books. I have a lot of their
Among the great Ulemas from ahl es-Sunna wal jama'a who refuted him and
decalred that his is out of the right way of islam:
1) "aSubki" in his "aRasae'l aSubkiyya firrad ala ibn taymiyya",
2) ibn hajar alhaytami, in al-Fatawa al-Hadithiyya
3) Abou hayyan alandaloussi in an-Nahr almaadd
4) ibn hajar alaskalani in fath albari page 410 fascicle 13 kitab atawhid.
from the 12th hegire century
5) Sheikh ahmad ibn Zayni dihlane in finat alwahhabiyya,
6) sheikh Muhammad ibn darwiche al-Hout from beirut in his book
Rasail fi akidat ahl-esunna waljamaa.
from the 20th century
7) sheikh muhammad Ouwayss from alAzhar in his book ibn taymiyya laysa
salafiyyan, and many others.
In fact, there are many sayings of ibn taymiyya related to TAJSIM, in
his own books. He pretended in his fatawa, (al-asma'a was-sifat) that
the ahl-esSunna wal Jamaa did not refute Mujassima (those who
attributed body to Allah). He even said that there isn't any single
text from the Salaf to refute mujassima. While in fact, al-'imam Ahmad
said that the person commits kufr if he says Allah is a body (jism)
even if he says that Allah is a body not like other bodies (jism la
kalajsam). He was quoted saying that "The terms are taken from
language and al-'Islam and the people of language have put this term
(body) on something that has length, width, thickness, image,
structure and components and it was not narrated in ash-shari^ah
(Islamic law). Therefore, it is invalid and cannot be used" (end of
quotation of Imam Ahmad). al-bayhaqiyy narrated that about Ahmad in
his book manaqib Ahmad and az-Zarkashiyy narrated the first saying of
Ahmad. Notice that Ahmad did not accept the term (body not like other
bodies) because it does not befit Allah and the language does not
accept that. I also quoted the saying of al-Imam al-Ash^ary from
"If someone belives that Allah is a body then he ignores Allah
and he is a kafir".
To be continued..
In sha'a Allah
Ibn Taymiyah (d. 728/1328) was a theologian who was sent to the jail by the
consensus (Ijma'a) of prominent Sunni scholars of his time (in Egypt and
Damascus) because of his heretical beliefs. He was considered an innovator
and a heretic and some Sunni scholars went so far as to declare his
writings as Kufr. Now he has become a Muslim scholar for Wahhabis! I don't
want to go into the details of the charges against Ibn Taymiyah which was
raised by prominent Sunni scholars about his heretical beliefs such as his
idea that Allah has limbs and these limbs are physical (Haqiqi) and so on
since it needs thousands of lines by itself. Among those Sunni scholars who
denounced him, are Taqi al-Din Subki, Ibn Hajar al-Haythami, Ibn Hajar al-
Asqalani, al-Izz ibn Jama'a, Muhammad Zahid al-Kawthari, Abu Hayyan al-
Andalusi, Shaykh Ahmad Ibn Zayni dihlani, Shaykh Mohammad Ouwayss from al-
Azhar, and many others. In their fatwa, they called Ibn Taymiyah as a
misguided person who was deserting the Sunni tenets. I refer Sunni brothers
to their authentic Fiqh book called "The Reliance of the Traveller" for a
biography of Ibn Taymiyah.
Now, as for Ibn Taymiyyah: A number of prominent Muslim
scholars of great repute -have- in fact pronounced kufr on Ibn
Taymiyyah, although the majority of scholars of ahl-al-Sunnah
have not pronounced kufr on him. Many have, however, criticized
him for innovation (bid`ah). Among those who criticized him are
-Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani (FatH al-Baaree, [Vol 12, p202], [V
13, p 410]),
-Ibn Hajar al-Haytami ([al-Fataawaa al-Hadeethiyyah p116,
p203], [Haashiyah, p443, p489])
-Taqi al-Deen al-Subki ([al-sayf al-Saqeel], [al-durrah al-
Others include Taj al-Deen al-Subki, al-Hafiz al-Dhahabi, Ibn
Daqeeq al-`Eed and Zayn al-Deen al-`Araaqee.
Firstly, we should realize that those scholars who pronounced
kufr on him based their verdicts on very real evidence from Ibn
Taymiyyah's own books. One of the
primary contentions of these group of scholars was that Ibn
Taymiyyah believed in - eternity of the
universe, which is that he said that some kind of creation always
existed. Also a
large number of scholars, of both former and latter times, have
criticized some of Ibn Taymiyyah's opinions as innovations. It
cannot be denied that in some issues, Ibn Taymiyyah (though he
may have had good intentions) has contradicted the consensus
(ijmaa`) of the Muslim scholars. Some of these issues are
doctrinal (e.g. he believed that Allah can be described with
(limits), compare this to the mainstream Sunni creed as
presented by Imam al-Shafi`ee, for example in ,
p8, or Abu Haneefah (al-fiqh al-akbar, p57), al-Tahawi (al-
`aqeeedah al-TaHaawiyyah), al-Bayhaqi (al-Asmaa' waS-Sifaat, p410), etc),
others are related to fiqh (jurisprudence) (e.g. his
opinion that three divorces pronounced together do not all take
effect - this fatwaa incidentally was the reason that Ibn Rajab
al-Hanbali forsook Ibn Taymiyyah).
The following article is written by a Sunni brother. This also shows the
fact that ortodox Sunnis beleive that Allah can be seen but we don't know
how? He talks but we don't know how? He is stablished on the trone but
we don't know how? On the other hand Wahhabis attribute physical entities
to it, while shia do not beleieve Allah has hand at all. Shia also beleive
he can not be seen at all, and so on.
From: mas@Cadence.COM (Masud Khan)
Subject: The Aqeedah of Ahl al-Sunnah wa'l Jamma'ah
Date: 3 May 1994 23:13:19 GMT
THE AQEEDAH OF AHL AL-SUNNAH WA'L JAMA'AH - in contrast with the Aqueedah
of the "Salafi" sect.
What follows are some examples of the anthropomorphic nature of the neo-
'Salafite' Aqeedah, and how it varies from the actual Aqeedah transmitted
us by the earliest generations of the Muslim Ummah. Today's 'Salafiyya'
claim to have the original and pristine Aqeedah of the first three pious
generations of Islam; but in reality it is the Aqeedah of the likes of Ibn
Taymiyya and his disciple Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah when it comes to
describing Allah and His attributes and so on. The following four points
points have derived directly from the works of the "Salafi" scholars (al-
Harras and al-Uthaimin) themselves. In comparison to these points I have
also quoted from the Aqeedah of Imam Abu Ja'far al-Tahawi's [d. 321 AH;
Rahimullah] and others for you to compare and contrast. Imam Tahawi's
Aqeedah represents the Aqeedah as transmitted by the scholars of his
Madhab (which represents in the main the Aqeedah of the Salaf-us-Salihin) -
Imam al-Azam Abu Hanifa, Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam al-Shaybani (Allah
mercy be upon them) - three of the greatest Ahl al-Sunnah scholars.
1 The Vision of Allah in the Hereafter
Imam al-Tahawi (Rahimullah) said with regard to this issue in "al-Aqeedah
at-Tahaweeah" [English trans. by I.A. A'zami, under the title 'Islamic
Belief'], "Belief of a man in the 'seeing of Allah by the people of the
Garden' is not correct if he imagines what it is like, or interprets it
according to his own understanding, since the interpretation of his
'seeing' or indeed, the meaning of any subtle phenomena which are in the
realm of Lordship, is by avoiding its interpretation and strictly adhering
to the submission. This is the din of Muslims. Anyone who does not guard
himself against negating the attributes of Allah, or likening Allah to
something else (anthropomorphism), has gone astray and has failed to
understand Allah's glory, because our Lord, the Glorified and the Exhalted,
can only possibly be described in terms of Oneness and Absolute Singularity
and no creation is in anyway like Him."
In contrast, Muhammad Khalil Harras (a 'Salafi' scholar) said in his "Sharh-
ul-Aqeedat-il-Wasitiyyah (of Ibn Taymiyya, pg. 73): "The Mutazila deny the
vision. This denial is based on refusing to accept Allah in any direction
for it is necessary for a thing being seen to be in the direction of the
seer.." Thus, al- Harras claims that for Allah to be seen in the Hereafter,
He (Allah) must have a direction!! In comparison, Imam al-Shahrastani [d.
1153 CE; Rahimullah] said in his "Kitab al-Milal wa'l Nihal (Muslim Sects
and Division, trans. by A,K, Kazi and J.G. Flynn, pg. 85): "Imam Ash'ari
(Rahimullah) says, however, that the vision of God does not entail
direction, place, form, or face to face encounter either by impingement of
rays or by impression, all of which are impossible."
2 The Speech of Allah
Imam al-Tahawi (Ramimullah) said: "The Qur'an is the word of Allah. It
came from Him as speech without it being possible to say how...(next
paragraph): It is not created, as is the speech of human beings, and anyone
who hears it and claims that it is human speech has become an unbeliever.
Allah warns him and censures him and threatens him with Fire when He says,
Exalted is He: 'I will burn him in the Fire.' [al-Muddaththir 74:26] When
Allah threatens with the Fire those who say 'This is just human speech' [al-
Muddaththir 74:25] we know for certain that it is speech of the Creator of
mankind and it is totally unlike the speech of mankind."
In contrast al-Harras stated in "Sharh-ul-aqeedat-il-wasitiyyah of Ibn
Taymiyya" [pg. 87]: "His statement, voice and speech take place with
and sounds. One to whom He (ie Allah) speaks he hears. This includes the
refutation of the stand taken by the Ash'aria (e.g. Imam al-Ghazali,
Rahimullah, in his 'Ihya 'ulum al-din') that speech of Allah is primeval
without letter or sound."
NB- Imam ibn Tahir al-Baghdadi (d. 429/1037; Rahimullah) said with regards
to this issue: "Another group (of anthropomorphists) is represented by
those who draw a resemblance between God's Word and the word of His
creatures. They hold thatGod's speech consists of sounds and letters
belonging to the same species as the sounds and letters which are ascribed
to mankind." (vide: 'al-Farq bayn al-firaq', English trans. by A.Halkin: as
'Moslem Schisms and Sects', v2, p35)
3 Allah's Hands
al -Harras stated without any definite proof (pg. 44, above reference):
"How can 'hand' be interpreted to mean power when the text proves
mentioning of palm, fingers, right and left, closing, opening, etc. which
can happen only in the case of a real hand."
Imam al-Tahawi said [no.34 in his above mentioned book]: "Anyone who
describes Allah as being in anyway the same as a human being has become an
unbeliever. All those who grasp this will take heed and refrain from saying
things such as unbelievers say, and they will know that He, in His
is not like human beings."
4 Allah's establishment on the Throne
Imam Malik (Rahimullah) was asked about Allah's establishment on the
Throne; he said: "Establishment (Istiwa) is known, the how of it is
unknown, belief in it is obligatory, and questions about it are
reprehensible innovation (bid'ah)." (see Reliance of the Traveller, pg.
854). In contrast, Muhammad as- Saleh al-'Uthaimin (a leading 'Saudi'
scholar) said in 'The Muslim's Belief' (pg.11, this work was heard and
approved by the foremost 'Saudi' Mufti - Abd al-Aziz ibn B'az, trans. M.H.
al-Johani): "'His (Allah's) settling on the Throne' means that He is
sitting in person on his Throne in a way that is becoming His majesty and
Greatness. Nobody except He knows exactly how He is sitting." Imam al-
Shahrastani (Rahimullah) stated that the leader of the heretical sect
called the 'Karramites - Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Karram declared: "God is
firmly seated on the Throne and that he is sitting in person on the upper
side of it..." (Muslim Sects and Divisions, pg. 92 trans. A.Kazi and
The above are CLEAR proofs that the 'Salafi/Wahabi' interpretation of Allah
(swt) is in essence athropomorphic, the claim that indivduals like Ibn
Taymiyya, Bin Ba'z and al-Albani have the same Aqeedah as Ahl al-Sunnah
wa'l Jama'ah is blatantly untrue and misleading to Muslims in genral.