Muhammad Al-Ghazali(b. 1917) on Ibn Taymiyya

Regarding Ibn Taymiyya, Ibn Qayyim, Ibn `Uthaymeen

by Dr. Ahmad Hijazi al-Saqqa

Ibn Taymiyya says in ‘al-Ta’sees’ [a refutation of Razi's 'al-Asaas']:

“The Creator, Glorified and Exalted is He, is above the world (fawqu al-`aalam) and his being above is literal (fawqiyyatan Haqeeqiyyatan), not in the sense of dignity or rank (laysat fawqiyyat al-rutba). It may be said of the precedence of a certain object over another that it is with respect to dignity or rank (rutba), or that it is with respect to location (makaan). For example, respectively: the precedence of the learned over the ignorant and the precedence of the imam over the one praying behind him. God’s precedence over the world is not like that, rather, it is a literal precedence (i.e. in time) (qabliyya Haqeeqiyya). Similarly the elevation (`uluww) above the world could be said to be with respect to dignity or rank, as for example when it said that the learned is above the ignorant. But God’s elevation over the world is not like that, rather He is elevated over it literally (i.e. in space)(huwa `aalin `alayhi `uluwwan Haqeeqiyyan). And this is the known elevation and the known precedence.”

Now, can a rational person doubt that what Ibn Taymiyya means by the above is a physical aboveness and a physical elevation? And here is Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya who does not deny that God is on the Throne, and that while He is there, He places his feet on the ‘kursi‘, and that Muhammad (s) is sitting by His side on the Throne. This resembles what is found in the Gospel according to Mark (19:16): “Then the Lord [Jesus], after he spoke to them, was raised to the heaven, and sat at the right of God.” Ibn Qayyim said in his book ‘Badaa’i` al-Fu’aad‘ (4:40): “The hadith about the intercession of Ahmad is upon the authority of Ahmad al-Mustafa (s) himself, and the hadith of his being made to sit on the Throne has also come to us, so we do not reject it (hadeethu al-shafaa`ati `an aHmad ila aHmad al-muSTafa musnaduhu wa jaa’a al-Hadeethu bi iq`adihi `ala al-`arshi ayDan fa la najHaduhu).”

[Note: The Commentator and grammarian Abu Hayyaan says in his 'Tafseer al-nahr al-maad min al-baHr al-muHeeT' [The Commentary of the River Extending From the Ocean] (Damascus ms.? 1:254): “I have read in a book by this — our contemporary — Ahmad ibn Taymiyya written with his own hand and which he entitled ‘Kitaab al-`arsh‘ [The Book of the Throne]: “God the Exalted sits (yajlisu) on the Kursi, and He has left a space vacant to let the Prophet (s) sit with Him.” Taj al-Din Muhammad ibn `Ali ibn `Abd al-Haqq al-Baarnibaari tricked him into thinking that he was supporting him until he took that book from him and we read this in it.” This phrase is reportedly found in the Damascus manuscript of the ‘Nahr‘ but not in the Cairo printed edition.]

Part 2

Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-`Uthaymeen says in his explanation of Ibn Taymiyya’s ‘ `Aqeeda waaSiTiyya ‘ (Cairo: Maktabat al-`ilm ed. p. 23):

“Coming and arrival (al-majee’ wa al-ityaan) are (two) of God’s active attributes (min Sifaat Allah al-fi`liyya). These two are established as belonging to God in the way that befits Him. Their proof is that He says: “And thy Lord shall come with angels, rank on rank” (89:22) “Wait they for naught else than that Allah should come unto them in the shadows of the clouds with the angels?” (2:210). To explain these verses as a reference to the coming or arrival of God’s order (amr) is unsound, because it contravenes the external meaning (zaahir al-lafz) of the verse and the consensus of the early generations (ijmaa` al-salaf), and there is no proof-text for it (la daleela `alayh).”...

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