Ibn al-Baqillani

Ibn al-Bâqillânî, Muhammad ibn al-Tayyib ibn Muhammad ibn Ja`far ibn Qâsim, Shaykh al-Islâm, al-Qâdî Abû Bakr ibn al-Bâqillânî al-Basrî al-Baghdâdî al-Mâlikî al-Ash`arî (d 403), eulogized by al-Dhahabî as “the erudite Imâm, peerless Master of the mutakallimîn, and foremost of the Scholars of usûl, author of many books, the examplar of perspicuity and intelligence.” Elsewhere he exclaims: “There is not, among all the Ash`arî Scholars of kalâm, anyone better than him!” [1]

Al-Qâdî `Iyâd said: “He is known as the Sword of the Sunna (Sayf al-Sunnah) and the Spokesman of the Community (Lisân al-Umma), a mutakallim who spoke the language of the hadîth Scholars, adhering to the doctrine of Abû al-Hasan al-Ash`arî, and the apex of Mâlikî Scholars in his time. His gathering in al-Basra was huge.” Al-Khatîb narrates that Ibn al-Bâqillânî’s nightly wird – at home or abroad – consisted in twenty tarwîha or twenty pauses, each pause separating sets of two to four rak`ats. Ibn al-Bâqillânî took al-Ash`arî’s teachings from Ibn Mujâhid. He used to say: “I consider the best part of me the time when I fully understand al-Ash`arî’s discourse.” [2] He used al-Ash`arî’s method to defeat virtually every sect in his time – including the Christians – among them the Râfida, Mu`tazila, Khawârij, Jahmiyya, Karrâmiyya, Mushabbiha, and Hashwiyya. Against the latter he stated: Whoever claims that the letter s in bismillâh, 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] Abûal-Qâsim ibn Burhân al-Nahwî said: “Whoever hears al-Qâdî Abû Bakr debate, will never again feel pleasure at hearing another mutakallim, faqîh, or orator.” He took the MâlikîSchool from Abû Bakr al-Abharî. [4] Abû al-Walîd al-Bâjî narrates that al-Dâraqutnî’s deference to Ibn al-Bâqillânî was the cause of the hadîth Master Abû Dharr al-Harawî’s adoption of the Mâlikî school of Law and the Ash`arî school of doctrine. [5]

Al-Khatîb narrated that Ibn al-Bâqillânî’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-Bâqillânî 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 Islâm, not know that a monk is exempt of such matters?” Ibn al-Bâqillânî 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-Bâqillânî that there is Consensus in Islâm on the fact that the order of the verses in each of the Sûras of the Qur’ân and their successive arrangement in the present order in the mushaf is so decreed by Allâh Most High, and on that basis has the Community related it from the Prophet – Allâh bless and greet him -. [6]

Of the “story of the cranes” in the Sîra, Ibn Hajar said: “Al-Qâdî `Iyâd did well when he said, ‘It is possible the Prophet – Allâh 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-Bâqillânî.” [7]

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