ABU MUHAMMAD AL-JUWAYNI
By Dr. G.F. Haddad
Al-Juwayni, `Abd Allah ibn Yusuf ibn `Abd Allah ibn Yusuf ibn Muhammad ibn Hayyuya, Rukn al-Din Abu Muhammad al-Ta'i al-Sinbisi al-Naysaburi al-Shafi`i al-Ash`ari (d. 438), the peerless Imam, foremost jurist and scholar of principles, commentator of Qur'an, man of letters, grammarian, and father of Imam al-Haramayn. He took fiqh principally in Naysabur from Abu al-Tayyib al-Su`luki and in Marw from Abu Bakr al-Qaffal al-Marwazi, hadith from Abu Nu`aym al-Isfarayini, Ibn Mahmish, Abu al-Husayn ibn Bishran, and others, and began to isfatwassue , teach, and debate in the year 407. He became famous for his assiduous worship and the great dignity, majesty, and earnestness of his scholarly gatherings. Abu `Uthman al-Sabuni said: "If Shaykh Abu Muhammad had been born among the Israelites, they would have transmitted his immense merits to us and he would have made their pride." Ibn `Asakir narrates from his maternal uncle, `Abd al-Wahid ibn `Abd al-Karim al-Qushayri the son of Imam Abu al-Qasim: "In his time our [Ash`ari and Shafi`i] imams and the verifying scholars among our companions saw in him such perfection and high merit that they used to say: If it were permissible to hold that Allah sent another prophet in our time, it would not have been other than he."
Among al-Juwayni's works:
* al-Jam` wa al-Farq
* Mawqif al-Imam wa al-Ma'mum
* al-Muhit, in which the imam intended to compile a fiqh manual in disregard of the Shafi`i school and based only on hadith proof-texts. Al-Bayhaqi citicized the weakness of the hadiths he saw him adduce and pointed out to him that al-Shafi`i was meticulous enough in inferring his jurisprudence from hadith proof-texts. The imam accepted al-Bayhaqi's advice and abandoned its completion.1
* al-Mu`tasar fi Mukhtasar al-Mukhtasar, and abridgment of al-Muzani's abridgment in Shafi`i fiqh
* al-Silsila in fiqh
* al-Tabsira fi al-Waswasa on acts of worship
* al-Tafsir al-Kabir, reported by `Abd al-Ghafir ibn Isma`il al-Farisi in his history of Naysabur to contain, for each verse, a different explanation according to ten different disciplines or perspectives.
An epistle on the subject of Allah's establishment on the Throne was falsely attributed to Imam al-Juwayni by Munir Agha among the publications of his "Salafi Press" in the Thirties under the title Risala fi ithbat al-istiwa' wa al-fawqiyya ("Epistle on the Assertion of Establishment and Aboveness"). This spurious attribution was endorsed without verification - for obvious reasons - by modern-day "Salafis" who adduced it to forward the claim that al-Juwayni "repented from Ash`ari kalam" towards the end of his life and turned to embrace anthropomorphist concepts. The Risala in question is not mentioned in any of the bibliographical and biographical sources nor does al-Dhahabi cite it in his encyclopedia of anthropomorphist views entitled al-`Uluw. More conclusively, it is written in modern argumentative style and reflects typically contemporary anthropomorphist stances. Furthermore, it is not authentically reported from al-Juwayni, his son, al-Fakhr al-Razi, al-Ghazali, nor any of the major early and late Ash`aris that they ever changed their foundational doctrinal positions on the appropriateness of the figurative interpretation (ta'wil) of Allah's Attributes in the light of the rules of the Arabic language and the directive given by the verse “There is nothing whatsoever like unto Him” (42:11).2
Abu al-Qasim ibn Mansur ibn Ramis said: "You could not see in al-Juwayni any frivolity or thoughtlessness due to the complete conformity of his outward demeanor with his inward state and his abstinence from leadership which ran after him while he ran away from it." Among the marks of his scrupulous fear of Allah was his care never to lean back against the wall of his house that was joint property between him and his neighbor, nor drive a nail into it. He would adduce the purification-tax (zakat) twice a year whenever he feared having neglected the intention or conveyed it to the undeserving.
Imam al-Haramayn narrates: "My father used to recite in the supplication of the dawn prayer: Allahumma la ta`uqna `an al-`ilmi bi `a'iqin wa la tamna`na `anhu bi mani` - O Allah! Do not hinder us in any way from [obtaining] knowledge, and do not prevent us from it by any means." Of note here is Imam al-Haramayn's position that the integral (rukn) of stillness in the post-ruku` erect posture (al-tuma'nina fi al-i`tidal) ought to be short and not as long as the integrals of reciting, bowing, prostrating, and sitting. Ibn al-Subki comments:
There is a well-known divergence of opinion among the Shafi`is concerning the invalidity of a prayer in which the post-bowing erect posture is lengthened inordinately, but Imam al-Haramayn went too far when he questioned stillness altogether, while others expressed hesitancy concerning it. The correct and known position is that it is obligatory.
Al-Juwayni related that he once dreamt of seeing the Prophet Yusuf -upon him peace-, whereupon he fell to his knees in order to kiss his feet, but Yusuf -upon him peace- prevented him as a mark of honor for the imam, so the latter kissed Yusuf's heels. Al-Juwayni said: "I interpreted it to mean that there would be blessing and honor in what I would leave behind." Ibn al-Subki commented: "What greater blessing and honor than his son!"
Among the imam's positions is the verdict that one who deliberately lies about the Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him -- has committed apostasy and is passible of death. Imam al-Haramayn relates that his father used to reiterate this fatwa in every class of his.
Abu Salih al-Mu'adhdhin said: "I gave Abu Muhammad his funeral bath. When we were wrapping him in the shroud I saw his right arm to the arm-pit luminous like the moon. I was bewildered, then I said to myself: these are the blessings of his legal responses."3
1Al-Bayhaqi's epistle to al-Juwayni is reproduced in full in TSK (5:77-90) and it contains valuable excerpts from al-Juwayni's al-Muhit.
2The only person who takes Agha's attribution of this work seriously to our knowledge is Nasir al-Albani in his edition of Mukhtasar al-`Uluw (p. 277).
3TKM (p. 253-254); SAN 13:403-404 #4027); TSK (5:72-93 #439).