by Dr. G.F. Haddad

Ibn al-Bāqillānī, Muhammad ibn al-Tayyib ibn Muhammad ibn Ja`far ibn Qāsim, Shaykh al-Islām, al-Qādī Abū Bakr ibn al-Bāqillānī al-Basrī al-Baghdādī al-Mālikī al-Ash`arī (d 403), eulogized by al-Dhahabī as "the erudite Imām, peerless Master of the mutakallimīn, and foremost of the Scholars of usūl, author of many books, the examplar of perspicuity and intelligence." Elsewhere he exclaims: "There is not, among all the Ash`arī Scholars of kalām, anyone better than him!" [1] Al-Qādī `Iyād said: "He is known as the Sword of the Sunna (Sayf al-Sunnah) and the Spokesman of the Community (Lisān al-Umma), a mutakallim who spoke the language of the hadīth Scholars, adhering to the doctrine of Abū al-Hasan al-Ash`arī, and the apex of Mālikī Scholars in his time. His gathering in al-Basra was huge." Al-Khatīb narrates that Ibn al-Bāqillānī's nightly wird - at home or abroad - consisted in twenty tarwīha or twenty pauses, each pause separating sets of two to four rak`ats.
Ibn al-Bāqillānī took al-Ash`arī's teachings from Ibn Mujāhid. He used to say: "I consider the best part of me the time when I fully understand al-Ash`arī's discourse." [2] He used al-Ash`arī's method to defeat virtually every sect in his time - including the Christians - among them the Rāfida, Mu`tazila, Khawārij, Jahmiyya, Karrāmiyya, Mushabbiha, and Hashwiyya. Against the latter he stated:
Whoever claims that the letter s in bismillāh, which comes after the letter b, and the letter m which comes after the letter s, have no beginning, he has taken leave of everything rational, denied what is obligatorily known, and contradicted the obvious.... And how can we hope to direct through proofs someone mulish enough to deny what is necessarily known? [3]
Abūal-Qāsim ibn Burhān al-Nahwī said: "Whoever hears al-Qādī Abū Bakr debate, will never again feel pleasure at hearing another mutakallim, faqīh, or orator." He took the Mālikī School from Abū Bakr al-Abharī. [4] Abū al-Walīd al-Bājī narrates that al-Dāraqutnī's deference to Ibn al-Bāqillānī was the cause of the hadīth Master Abū Dharr al-Harawī's adoption of the Mālikī school of Law and the Ash`arī school of doctrine. [5]
Al-Khatīb narrated that Ibn al-Bāqillānī's nightly devotion consisted in forty rak`ats whether at home or while travelling, after which he wrote thirty-five pages of text which, after the Fajr prayer, he would pass on to others to read out loud for proof-reading and editing.
At the time the Caliph `Adud al-Dawla sent Ibn al-Bāqillānī as an envoy to the emperor of the Eastern Romans, he was asked to enter through a low door to see the emperor and realized that this was done by design so as to make him enter on his knees; whereupon he entered on his knees but with his back turned, approaching the emperor backside first. In the course of this conversation he noticed, next to the emperor, a church dignitary. He turned to him and asked: "How are your wife and children?" Hearing this, the emperor said: "Lo! Do you, the spokesman of Islām, not know that a monk is exempt of such matters?" Ibn al-Bāqillānī replied: "You exempt a monk from such matters, but you do not exempt the Lord of the Worlds from having a mate and child?"
Ibn Hajar reported from Ibn al-Bāqillānī that there is Consensus in Islām on the fact that the order of the verses in each of the Sūras of the Qur'ān and their successive arrangement in the present order in the mushaf is so decreed by Allāh Most High, and on that basis has the Community related it from the Prophet MHMD Allāh bless and greet him -. [6] Of the "story of the cranes" in the Sīra, Ibn Hajar said: "Al-Qādī `Iyād did well when he said, 'It is possible the Prophet MHMD Allāh bless and greet him - was mentioning the belief of the pagans by way of derision,' noting that at that time it was permitted to speak in the midst of prayer. To this position leaned Ibn al-Bāqillānī."7 [7]
Ibn al-Bāqillānī is the paragon of the fundamental unity of Islamic schools and love for the sake of Allāh among scholars that hold different views. In his book Manāqib al-A'imma he showed that the Companions were all rewarded for their ijtihād despite the divergences that befell between them. He was the arbitrator between the Sūfīs of the university of Qayrawān and Ibn Abī Zayd al-Mālikī when the latter denied that Allāh could be seen in this world8 [8] He was profoundly admired by the Hanbalīs of Baghdād although he was the chief authority of the Ash`arī school in his time. When he died, the Shaykh of the Hanbalīs and Ibn al-Bāqillānī's friend of seven years, Abū al-Fadl al-Tamīmī, came barefoot to his funeral with others of his school and ordered a herald to open the procession shouting: "This is the Aider of the Sunna and the Religion! This is the Imām of Muslims! This is the defender of the Sharī`a! This is the one who authored 70,000 folios!" He was buried near the grave of Ahmad ibn Hanbal, and his grave is a place of visitation, seeking blessings (tabarruk), and praying for rain (istisqā').
* Fadl al-Jihād
* Hidāyat al-Mustarshidīn.
* Al-Ibāna `an Ibtāl Madhhab Ahl al-Kufr wal-Dalāla ("Exposition of the Invalidity of the School of the People of Disbelief and Misguidance").
* I`jāz al-Qur'ān. In this work, Ibn al-Bāqillānī contrasts several orations of the Prophet MHMD Allāh bless and greet him -, the Companions, and others with the Qur'anic style to demonstrate the inimitability of the Qur'anic style. He presents a detailed critique of the Mu`allaqa of Umru' al-Qays and al-Bahtarī's Lāmiyya - both considered masterpieces of literary achievement - and points out their defects and weaknesses. However, he believes inimitability does not depend on rhetoric but is merely enhanced by it.
* Al-Insāf fīmā Yajibu I`tiqāduhu walā Yajūzu al-Jahlu bih. In this book Ibn al-Bāqillānī demonstrates that
(1) the Divine Attributes are in now way conceived as limbs (jawārih);
(2) the Divine Attributes that suggest emotions such as love, anger, approval, mercy, friendship, enmity, etc. denote His will of a certain state for their object;
(3) the Divine Attributes of Essence (sifāt dhāt) have no beginning nor does His description by the same have any beginning, while His Divine Attributes of Act (sifāt af`āl) are preceded by Him (sabaqahā): He exists before them, without beginning;
(4) His Speech is an Attribute of Essence;
(5) the created act of recitation is other than the uncreated Qur'ān being recited;
(6) every īmān is islām but not vice-versa; and other foundational Ash`arī tenets.
* Al-Intisār.
* Al-Istishhād
* Al-Kuffar wal-Muta'awwilīn wa-Hukm al-Dār.
* Manāqib al-A'imma.
* Al-Milal wal-Nihal.
* Al-Tabyīn Adab al-Jidāl.
* Al-Ta`dīl wal-Tajrīh.
* Tamhīd al-Awā'il Talkhīs al-Dalā'il, his most famous work, in which he expands on the doctrines discussed in the Insāf and refutes unislamic creeds such as Trinitarianism and Brahmanism. [9]

[1] Al-Dhahabī, Mukhtasar al-`Uluw (p. 258 §139).
[2] Tabaqāt al-Shāfi`iyya al-Kubrā (3:351).
[3] Cited by al-Kawtharī in his notes on Imām al-Haramayn's Nizāmiyya (p. 21).
[4] Muhammad ibn `Abd Allāh ibn Sālih (287-375).
[5] Narrated from Abū al-Walīd al-Bājī's Firaq al-Fuqahā' by al-Dhahabī in Tadhkirat al-Huffāz (3:1104-1105). Ibn `Asākir narrates something similar.
[6] Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bārī (2:204, 4:32) cf. al-Qādī `Iyād in al-Nawawī's Sharh Sahīh Muslim (4:56, 5:419-420) and al-Shawkānī in Nayl al-Awtār (2:230).
[7] Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bārī (8:440).
[8] This is in line with the position related from Imām Mālik whereby the Creator cannot be seen by the created with eyes that are bound for extinction - that is, in the world - but only with eyes that are bound for everlastingness See our article, "The Vision of Allāh in the World and the Hereafter" http://www.sunnah.org/aqida/haddad/Beatific%20Vision.htm.
[9] Tabyīn (p. 217-225); Siyār (13:114-116 §3724); Tārīkh Baghdād (5:379-383); al-Qādī `Iyād, Tartīb al-Madārik (1:242-259, 4:585-602); Ibn `Imād, Shadharāt al-Dhahab (3:168-170); al-Darqash, Abū Muhammad `Abd Allāh ibn Abī Zayd (p. 242-243).