Further Information on Tasawwuf 4
Ibn Taymiyya’s Donning of the Qadiri Cloak
As for Ibn Taymiyya, one would search in vain to find in his works the least condemnation of Sufism as a discipline. He opposed the seemingly pantheist descriptions of certain Sufis, known as ittihadiyya, but he showed his great admiration for the works of the Sufis Junayd Baghdadi, Sahl at-Tustari, Bayazid al-Bistami, Abu Talib al-Makki, al-Qushayri, ‘Abdul Qadir Jilani and Abu Hafs as-Suhrawardi.
At present we are in the position to go much farther and show that this allegedly great opponent of Sufism was himself a Sufi, who belonged to more than one tariqat, but especially to that of ‘Abdul Qadir Jilani.In a manuscript of the Hanbali ‘alim, Shaykh Yusuf bin ‘Abd al-Hadi (d. 909H), entitled Bad’ al-‘ula bi labs al-Khirqa [found in Princeton, Sorbonne and Damascus], Ibn Taymiyya is found in a Sufi spiritual genealogy with other well-known Hanbali scholars, all except one (Say. Jilani) heretofore unknown as Sufis. The links in this genealogy are, in descending order:
1. ‘Abdul Qadir Jilani (d. 561 H.)
2.a. Abu ‘Umar bin Qudama (d. 607 H.)
2.b. Muwaffaq ad-Din bin Qudama (d. 620 H.)
3. Ibn Abi ‘Umar bin Qudama (d. 682 H.)
4. Ibn Taymiyya (d. 728 H.)
5. Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (d. 751 H.)
6. Ibn Rajab (d. 795 H.)
(Both Abu ‘Umar b. Qudama and his brother Muwaffaq received the khirqa directly from Abdul Qadir Jilani himself.)
Further corroboration of two links separating him from ‘Abdul Qadir Jilani comes from Ibn Taymiyya himself, as quoted in a manuscript of the work al-Mas’ala at-Tabriziyya (manuscript, Damascus, 1186 H):
“labistu al-khirqata mubarakata lish-Shaykh ‘Abdul Qadir wa bayni wa baynahu ‘than”
“I wore the blessed Sufi cloak of ‘Abdul Qadir, there being between him and me two.”
Ibn Taymiyya is quoted by Yusuf ibn ‘Abd al-Hadi, affirming his Sufi affiliation in more than one Sufi order:
“have worn the Sufi cloak [khirqata at-Tasawwuf] of a number of shaykhs belonging to various tariqas [min turuqi jama’atin min ash-shuyukhi], among them the Shaykh ‘Abdul Qadir al-Jili, whose tariqa is the greatest of the well-known ones.”
Further on he continues:
“The greatest Sufi Way [ajallu-t-turuqi] is that of my master [sayyidi], ‘Abdul Qadir al-Jili, may Allah have mercy on him.”
[found in Al-Hadi manuscript in Princeton Library, Collection fol. 154a, 169b, 171b-172a and Damascus University, copy of original Arabic manuscript, 985H.; also mentioned in at-Talyani, manuscript Chester Beatty 3296 (8) in Dublin, fol. 67a.]
Additional evidence of Ibn Taymiyya’s connection to the Qadiri silsila (lineage) is found in his lengthy commentary on the seminal Sufi work by his grand-shaykh, ‘Abdul Qadir Jilani, entitled Futuh al-Ghayb. [this is found in a Princeton manuscript, uncataloged, also in Leipzig University Library, Arabic manuscript #223, and Istanbul University, Turkish translation, Futuh ul-Gayb Hakkinda Yorum]
The essence of his commentary on Futuh al-Ghaib is to show that Sufism, when orthodox, is completely in consonance with the Qur’an and hadith and the consensus of the community [ijma’a]. A Tasawwuf not based on the revealed law is heretical. In his commentary, Ibn Taymiyya upholds ilham, or Sufi inspiration, as evidence stronger than weak analogy [qiyas], or a weak tradition [hadith,] or istis-hab cited by those who are immersed in fiqh, or divergences of the law [khilaf], or the principles and sources of the law [usul al-fiqh]. He places inspiration [ilham] on the level of legally valid evidence on which to base a preference for one action as against another when all other sources fail.
Perfection of the soul, says Ibn Taymiyya, does not consist inmere knowledge. On the contraray, along with the knowledge concerning Allah, there must necessarily be love [mahabba] of Allah, worship of Allah, and the turning back to Him in repentance. Real tawhid consists in worshipping no one but Allah, and worship calls for perfect love [kamal al-hubb], perfect veneration [kamal at-ta’zim], perfect hope, fear, reverence, and respect [kamal ar-raja’ wal-khishya wal-ijlal wal-ikram].We intend to publish a translation of that lengthy commentary by Ibn Taymiyya on Futuh al-Ghaib in the future.
© 2012 As-Sunnah Foundation of America