Al-Kawthari on Ibn Taymiyya

Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani

The following is translated from ‘Maqalat al-Kawthari‘ [The Articles of Kawthari] by Muhammad Zahid ibn al-Hasan al-Kawthari (Riyadh and Beirut: Dar al-ahnaf, 1414/1993) p. 350-353.

How much did the Hanbalis Ibn `Uqayl and Ibn al-Jawzi suffer at their hands ( the anthropomorphists), and how much was the former falsely summoned to repent from being a Mu`tazila whereas they were both only declaring God’s transcendance!

[Note: Ibn al-Jawzi’s book against the so-called Hanbali anthropomorphists has received many editions and is widely available. The title is: ‘Daf` shubah al-tashbih bi akuffi al-tanzih‘, “The Repelling With the Hands of Purification of the Sophistries of Anthroporphism”, also known as ‘al-Baz al-ashabb al-munqadd `ala mukhalifi al-madhhab al- hanbali’, “The Flaming Falcon Swooping Down on the Dissenters of the Hanbali Madhhab”! Editions: Damascus, 1926; Cairo, 1977?; Beirut, 1987; Amman, 1991; and recently, a new edition by Imam Abu Zahra]

Then there was the story of Ibn al-Qudwa al-Karrami against Imam [Fakhr al-Din] Razi… Then there was the mischief (fitna) of Abd al-Ghani al-Maqdisi [al-Hanbali], it can be found in the Appendix (or towards the end) of Abu Shama’s ‘al-Rawdatayn’ [a book on Salah al-Din’s times]. Then there were the many mischiefs (fitan) of Ibn Taymiyya in Damascus which have become known far and wide. They are detailed in Taqi al-Din al-Hisni’s (1351-1426 M) ‘Daf`u shubahi man shabbaha wa tamarrad’ [The Repelling of the Sophistries of the One Who Rebels and Likens God to Creation], which is in print [Cairo, 1350/1931, but recently reedited and published by Imam Abu Zahra together with Ibn al-Jawzi’s work]…

Much of the historical evidence related to Ibn Taymiyya and his student (Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya) is recorded in ‘al-Sayf al-Saqeel fi al-radd `ala ibn Zafeel’ [The Burnished Sword in Responding to Ibn Zafeel, by Abu al-Hasan Taqi al-Din al-Subki] (Cairo: Matba`at al-Sa`adat, 1356/1938) and its gloss (hashiatuh), which is in print.

Ibn Taymiyya is the one who broadcast their (the mujassima’s) deviant writings in Egypt and Syria at a time such writings were non-existent in these two countries. The simple-minded were completely fooled by his books due to the purported refutations of innovations they found in them, written with a fluent style. They did not perceive that his lines were laced through and through with deadly poisons.

Ibn Taymiyya replicates part and parcel what is found in the book of Uthman ibn Sa`eed al-Darimi [al-Radd `ala al-Jahmiyya], the book of Abd Allah ibn Ahmad ibn Hanbal [Kitab al-Sunna], and the book of Ibn Khuzayma [al-tawhid wa sifaat al-Rabb], therefore one answers him in the same way that one answers them.

It will not hurt to mention some of the texts from among his writings in the book which he named ‘al-Ta’sis fi radd asas al-taqdis‘ [The Laying of the Foundation: Refutation of “The Foundation of the Sanctification of God”, a book by Fakhr al-Din al-Razi], and which is found inside volumes 24, 25, and 26 of ‘al-Kawakib al-Darari’ [The Brilliant Stars, probably comprising two books with this or similar titles, respectively by Ibn `Abd al-Hadi and Mar`i ibn Yusuf al-Karmi, extolling the praises of Ibn Taymiyya] in the Zahiriyya Library in Damascus, and in other of his books, in order that those who are passionately in love with Ibn Taymiyya be fully aware of who it is they love so much.

In the ‘Ta’sis’ he says this: “Indeed ‘al-`arsh’ (the throne) in language means ‘al-sarir’ [elevated seat or couch], so named with respect to what is on top of it (wa dhalika bi al-nisba ila ma fawqihi), just as ‘the roof’ is so named with respect to what is under it (ka al- saqfi bi al-nisba ila ma tahtihi). Therefore, if the Qur’an attributes a throne to Allah — which is not like a roof with respect to Him (but the reverse) — it is then known that this throne is, with respect to Allah, like the elevated seat is with respect to other than Allah. And this makes it necessarily true that He is on top of the throne (wa dhalika yaqtadi annahu fawqu al-`arsh).”

So then the Throne is, for Ibn Taymiyya, the seat (maq`ad) of Allah the Exalted — Exalted is He from such a thing!

In the same book he also says: “It is well-known that the Book, the Sunna, and the Consensus (of scholars) nowhere say that all bodies are created (lam tantiq bi anna al-ajsama kullaha muhdathatun), nor that Allah Himself is not a body (wa annallaha laysa bi jismin). None of the imams of the Muslims ever said such a thing. Therefore if I also choose not to say it, it does not expel me from religion nor from shari`a.”

Indeed the above is complete impudence. What did he do with all the verses declaring Allah to be far removed from having anything like unto Him? Does he expect that the idiocy that every single idiot can come up with be addressed with a specific text? Is it not enough that Allah the Exalted said: “Nothing is like unto Him” (42:11)? Or does he consider it permissible for someone to say: Allah eats this, and chews that, and tastes the other thing, just because no text mentions the opposite? Now this is disbelief laid bare (al-kufr al-makshuf) and pure anthropomorphism (wa al-tajsim al sareeH).

In another passage of the same book he says: “You (Ash`aris) say that He is neither a body (laysa huwa bi jismin), nor an essence (wa la jawhar), nor confined (wa la mutaHayyiz), and that He has no direction (wa la jihatan lahu), and that He cannot be pointed to as an object of sensory perception (wa la yusharu ilayhi bi Hissin), and that nothing of Him can be considered distinct from Him (wa la yatamayyazu minhu shay’in min shay’), and you have asserted this on the grounds that Allah the Exalted is neither divisible (laysa bi munqasim) nor made of parts (wa la murakkab) and that He has neither limit (wa annahu la Hadda lahu) nor end (wa la ghayat), with your view thereby to forbid one to say that He has any extent/measure (Hadd) or dimension (qadr), or that He even has a dimension that is unlimited (aw yakuna lahu qadrun la yatanaha). And how do you allow yourselves to say or do this without (evidence from) the Book and the Sunna?”

The reader’s intelligence suffices as comment on these heretical words (hadhihi al-kalimat al-ilHadiyya). Can you imagine for an apostate (maariq) to be more obvious (aSraH) than this, right in the midst of a Muslim society?

In another place [of Ibn Taymiyya’s book ‘al-Ta’sis fi radd asas al-taqdis’, written to refute Fakhr al-Din al-Razi’s ‘Asas al-taqdis’], he says: “It is obligatorily known that Allah did not mean by the name of ‘the One’ (al-WaaHid) the negation (salb) of the Attributes (al-Sifaat).” Ibn Taymiyyah is here alluding to all that entails (God’s) “coming” to a place and the like.

[Ibn Taymiyya continues,] “Nor did He mean by it the negation that He can be perceived with the senses (wa la salba idraakihi bi al-Hawass), nor the denial of limit and dimension (wa la nafi al-Haddi wa al-qadr) and all such interpretations which were innovated by the Jahmiyya and their followers. The negation or denial of the above is not found in the Book nor the Sunna.” And this is on an equal footing with what came before with regard to pure anthropomorphism and plain apostasy.

And in his book ‘Muwaafaqat al-ma`qool‘ [full title: ‘Bayaan muwaafaqat SaHeeH al-manqool li SareeH al-ma`qool’, The Exposition of the Conformity of Sound Transmitted Proof-Texts With What Is Evidently Reasonable] that is in the margin of his ‘Minhaaj‘ [full title: Minhaaj al-sunna al-nabawiyya fi naqdi kalam al-shee`a wa al-qadariyya, The Road of the Prophetic Sunna in the Criticism of the Sayings of Shi`as and Predestinarians] Ibn Taymiyya asserts (2:75, 1:264) that things occur newly in relation to God (SarraHa bi qiyaami al-Hawaadith billahi subHaanah) and that God has a direction according to two kinds of conjecture (wa SarraHa bi annahu ta`aala fi al-jihati `ala al-taqdeerayn). And you know, O reader, what the Imams say concerning Him who deliberately and intently establishes that God has a direction, unless his saying such a thing is a slip of the tongue or a slip of the pen.

Then (2:26, 2:13) there is his establishing that the concept of movement applies to God, along with all the others who establish such a thing. Then his denial that there is an eternal sojorn in hellfire (inkar al-khuloodi fi al-naar) has filled creation, and so has his saying concerning the different kinds of pre-existence (al-qidam al-naw`i: i.e. for God and the world). Refer to what he says in his criticism of the book ‘Maraatib al-ijmaa` ‘ [The Grades of Consensus] by Ibn Hazm p.169…

There is amply more salutary material for him who burns with thirst to know more in our continuation of (Subki’s) ‘al-sayf al-Saqeel’ [The Burnished Sword], God willing, concerning the disgraces of Ibn Taymiyya and of his student Ibn al-Qayyim…

The Imam Abu Mansur `Abd al-Qaahir al-Baghdaadi says in his book ‘al-asmaa’ wa al-Sifaat’ that al-Ash`ari and most of the theologians (mutakallimeen) have pronounced every innovator whose innovation consists in or leads to disbelief, a disbeliever. This is the case for one who declares that the One he worships has a form/image (Sura), or that He has a limit or a boundary (Haddan wa nihaaya), or that movement and stillness may be applied to Him. There is no ambiguity for anyone endowed with a conscience that they are unbelievers, the Karrami anthropomorphists of Khurasaan who said that “God is a body with a limit and an end under Him” (inna Allaha jismun lahu Haddun wa nihaayatun min taHtihi) and that “He is in contact with His Throne” (wa innahu mumassun li `arshihi), and that “He is the locus of newly occurred events” (wa innahu mahallu al-Hawaadith), and that “His speech and His will are created in Him” (wa annahu yaHduthu feehi qawluhu wa iraadatuhu).

And God Most High knows best.

Peace and Blessings upon the Prophet, his Family, and his Companions