by GF Haddad

`Ali ibn Ahmad ibn Sa`id ibn Hazm, Abu Muhammad al-Farisi al-Andalusi al-Qurtubi al-Yazidi (d. 465), praised by al-Dhahabi as “the peerless imam, the Ocean of sciences and disciplines, the jurist, hadith master, scholar of kalam, man of letters, Zahiri minister, and prolific author.” He was born into a princely family of Cordova where his education first centered on Arabic poetry, philosophy, and kalam. Al-Dhahabi said: “I saw a volume of his in which he puts logic at the head of all the sciences, and I was pained for him, for he is a foremost leader in the Islamic sciences, profoundly erudite in hadith documentation and without peer – despite his dry strain and fanatic literalism – in the branches but not the principles” [i.e. in fiqh, not `aqida].

An example of Ibn Hazm’s extreme positions is his declaration that any type of analogy (qiyas), or imitation (taqlid), or legislative opinion (ra’y) was outside the pale of Islam, a position in which he contravened the totality of the scholars of Ahl al-Sunna. An example of his positions is his explanation of the Prophet’s — Allah bless and greet him — hadith: “Let no-one urinate in still, non-running water then use it to bathe.”1 Ibn Hazm stated the following absurd inferences:

– The interdiction to bathe applied only to the one who urinated; thus, anyone other than him may use that water to bathe;

– It applied only if one urinated into the water. He and anyone else might therefore use the water to bathe if the urine reached the water indirectly, for example after falling on high or nearby ground first, or being poured in it from a container;

– It applied only if one urinated in it, not defecated in it.2

    Al-Nawawi said of the above opinions: “All this which Ibn Hazm held is in contravention of the consensus of the scholars, and is the ugliest example of hardened literalism reported from him.”3

    In addition, Ibn Hazm in his books violated Islamic etiquette in his revilement of past scholars with whom he disagreed, to the extent that Abu al-`Abbas ibn al-`Arif compared his tongue to al-Hajjaj’s sword. As a result some scholars had him exiled and his books burnt and condemned, while others considered them mines of “pearls mixed with trinkets” in al-Dhahabi’s words. He is known for his rabid enmity to Ash`aris whom he all but declares disbelievers in al-Fisal fi al-Milal wa al-Nihal with statements such as: “This is the position of Jahm ibn Safwan, Abu al-Hasan al-Ash`ari, and their followers.” Ibn al-Subki comments: “Ibn Hazm has no idea of al-Ash`ari’s school and does not distinguish between it and the Jahmiyya,” noting that the Maliki scholar Abu al-Walid al-Baji and others had Ibn Hazm expelled, and the Fisal declared forbidden reading, because of its attacks on the Imams of the Muslims.4 Ibn Taymiyya imitated Ibn Hazm in this.5

    Nevertheless, Ibn Hazm is considered a reference on the determination of scholarly consensus (ijma`) – which he restricted to the Companions’ time – and scholarly difference (khilaf). He is also highly respected in hadith and its sciences although, like al-Bayhaqi, he had no knowledge of al-Tirmidhi’s and Ibn Majah’s Sunan. His commentary on his own al-Mujalla (“The Brilliant Treatise”), al-Muhalla (“The Adorned Treatise”), is considered a masterpiece of fiqh literature. Ibn `Abd al-Salam said: “I did not see, in all the books of knowledge in Islam, anything like Ibn Hazm’s al-Muhalla nor like Shaykh Muwaffaq al-Din’s [Ibn Qudama] al-Mughni.” Al-Dhahabi comments: “Shaykh `Izz al-Din is right, and the third is al-Bayhaqi’s al-Sunan al-Kubra, and the fourth Ibn `Abd al-Barr’s al-Tamhid. Whoever obtains these volumes, if he is one of the intelligent muftis and perseveres in reading them – he is truly a `alim.”

Al-Dhahabi lists the following catalogue of Ibn Hazm’s works:

1. Al-Isal ila Fahm Kitab al-Khisal in 15,000 folios.

2. Al-Khisal al-Hafiz li Jumal Shara’i` al-Islam in two volumes.

3. Al-Mujalla in two volumes.

4. Al-Muhalla in eight volumes.

5. Hujja al-Wada` in one volume.

6. Qisma al-Khumus fi al-Radd `ala Isma`il al-Qadi in one volume.

7. Al-Athar al-Lati Zahiruha al-Ta`arud wa Nafyi al-Tanaqud `Anha in 10,000 folios, unfinished.

8. Al-Jami` Fi Sahih al-Hadith, without chains of transmission.

9. Al-Talkhis wa al-Takhlis fi al-Masa’il al-Nazariyya

10. Ma Infarada Bihi Malik aw Abu Hanifa aw al-Shafi`I

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