Imam al-Haramayn ibn al-Juwayni (419 – 478)

  • A false attribution by the Maliki scholar al-Maziri7 of a Mu’tazili position to the Imam in the form of the statement: “Allah knows universalities (al-kulliyyât), not specifics (al-juz’iyyât).” Ibn al-Subki asserted that such a statement constituted disbelief and is nowhere found in the books of the Imam. On the contrary, he states the opposite in the chapter on Jahm ibn Safwan in al-Irshad as well as other passages of his books.8
  • A false report whereby Imam Abu al-Qasim al-Qushayri swore that he would never address Ibn al-Juwayni and that the latter was expelled from Naysabur because of the above statement. The truth is that Ibn al-Juwayni left Naysabur because of the climate of hostility that targeted Ahl al-Sunna there, and al-Qushayri admired him so much that he said: “Had al-Juwayni claimed prophethood, his eloquence would have met the need for evidentiary miracles!”
  • Another report claiming that Ibn al-Juwayni denied that creatures possessed any acting-power (istitâ’a), whereas his book al-Irshad contains thirty pages in which he adduces proof after proof that they do.9
  • A report from Muhammad ibn Tahir:

Abu Ja’far al-Hamadhani heard al-Juwayni say: “Allah was when there was no place, and He is now as He ever was.”10 Al-Hamadhani said: “Tell us then, O teacher! About this imperious necessity in which we find ourselves. There is not one knower of Allah who says ‘O Allah!’ except he finds in his heart an imperious necessity to seek out the height (al-‘uluw). He does not turn right nor left. How can we rid ourselves of this necessity?” Or he said: “Do you have a remedy by which we can get rid of this necessity in which we find ourselves?” Whereupon the imam exclaimed: “O dear! There is nothing left now except bafflement.” Then he slapped his hand on his head, came down his chair, and went into an inordinate long period of silence. Later he said: “Al-Hamadhani baffled me.”

This report comes only through al-Hamadhani, whom al-Dhahabi himself reported described as “little knowledgeable in the science of hadith,”11 and Ibn Tahir, already cited for his enmity to the Imam. However, the greatest weakness of the report is in its internal incoherence, as it casts al-Hamadhani as an expert in the contents of the hearts of knowers of Allah and as claiming that he is one of them. It also makes blatant anthropomorphists of all the knowers of Allah. More importantly, it is highly unlikely that a master of debate such as Ibn al-Juwayni would concede defeat by such an elementary question, as Ibn al-Subki pointed out:

Was the Imam powerless to reply: “You have lied, O accursed one! For the knower of Allah does not harbor thoughts of corporeal aboveness for Allah, and only an ignoramus who believes that Allah has a direction sets such limits.” We say: No knower of Allah says: “O Allah!” except he no longer see any directions. If the direction of aboveness was being sought, then, certainly, the worshipper would not have been prohibited from looking in that direction nor threatened with punishment if he did. As for the report that he cried out in bafflement and later said: “al-Hamadhani baffled me,” it is a shameless lie. I wonder, what is it that that al-Hamadhani brought up as insinuation or proof so that one might say that he baffled him? If one such as the Imam was baffled and did not know what to think, then woe to the Imams of Muslims from the year 478 to this day! For the earth did not produce, from his time, one more knowledgeable of Allah than him. By Allah! What would be the position of al-Dhahabi and his likes if the Imam were to find himself baffled by such a question? This would be a disaster! I wish I even knew where this Abu Ja’far al-Hamadhani stands from the Imams of investigation and kalâm, and the verifiers among the imams of Muslims.

Even if the report were authentic, Ibn al-Juwayni’s bafflement can more likely be interpreted to signify a rhetorical declaration of his opponent’s ignorance. This device is used by Ibn al-Juwayni himself in his Nizamiyya:

If they [anthropomorphists] say to us: “So then you end up with confusion and bafflement!” we reply: Minds are baffled when it comes to understand Allah’s reality, yet categorically affirm the existence [of Allah] to be transcendent above and exempt of the attributes of dependency.”12

Al-Albani’s Speculation

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