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Six Muslim Scholars

By Sh. G. F. Haddad

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Six Muslim Scholars

Ibn al-Baqillani
Abu ʿUthman al-Sabuni
Abu Nuʿaym al-Asfahani
Al-Hakim al-Naysaburi
Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr
Al-Harawi al-Ansari


Ibn al-Bāqillānī, Muhammad ibn al-Tayyib ibn Muhammad ibn Jaʿfar ibn Qāsim, Shaykh al-Islām, al-Qādī Abū Bakr ibn al-Bāqillānī al-Basrī al-Baghdādī al-Mālikī al-Ashʿarī (d 403), eulogized by al-Dhahabī as "the erudite Imām, peerless Master of the mutakallimīn, and foremost of the Scholars of usūl, author of many books, the examplar of perspicuity and intelligence." Elsewhere he exclaims: "There is not, among all the Ashʿarī Scholars of kalām, anyone better than him!"1 Al-Qādī ʿIyād said: "He is known as the Sword of the Sunna (Sayf al-Sunna) and the Spokesman of the Community (Lisān al-Umma), a mutakallim who spoke the language of the hadīth Scholars, adhering to the doctrine of Abū al-Hasan al-Ashʿarī, and the apex of Mālikī Scholars in his time. His gathering in al-Basra was huge." Al-Khatīb narrates that Ibn al-Bāqillānī's nightly wird - at home or abroad - consisted in twenty tarwīha or twenty pauses, each pause separating sets of two to four rakʿas.

Ibn al-Bāqillānī took al-Ashʿarī's teachings from Ibn Mujāhid. He used to say: "I consider the best part of me the time when I fully understand al-Ashʿarī's discourse."2 He used al-Ashʿarī's method to defeat virtually every sect in his time - including the Christians - among them the Rāfida, Muʿtazila, Khawārij, Jahmiyya, Karrāmiyya, Mushabbiha, and Hashwiyya. Against the latter he stated:

Whoever claims that the letter s in bismillāh, 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

Abū al-Qāsim ibn Burhān al-Nahwī said: "Whoever hears al-Qādī Abū Bakr debate, will never again feel pleasure at hearing another mutakallim, faqīh, or orator." He took the Mālikī School from Abū Bakr al-Abharī.4 Abū al-Walīd al-Bājī narrates that al-Dāraqutnī's deference to Ibn al-Bāqillānī was the cause of the hadīth Master Abū Dharr al-Harawī's adoption of the Mālikī school of Law and the Ashʿarī school of doctrine.5

Al-Khatīb narrated that Ibn al-Bāqillānī's nightly devotion consisted in forty rakʿas 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 outloud for proof-reading and editing.

At the time the Caliph ʿAdud al-Dawla sent Ibn al-Bāqillānī 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 Islām, not know that a monk is exempt of such matters?" Ibn al-Bāqillānī 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-Bāqillānī that there is Consensus in Islām on the fact that the order of the verses in each of the Sūras of the Qur'ān and their successive arrangement in the present order in the mushaf is so decreed by Allāh Most High, and on that basis has the Community related it from the Prophet ﷺ Allāh bless and greet him -.6 Of the "story of the cranes" in the Sīra, Ibn Hajar said: "Al-Qādī ʿIyād did well when he said, 'It is possible the Prophet ﷺ Allāh 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-Bāqillānī."7

Ibn al-Bāqillānī is the paragon of the fundamental unity of Islamic schools and love for the sake of Allāh among scholars that hold different views. In his book Manāqib al-A'imma he showed that the Companions were all rewarded for their ijtihād despite the divergences that befell between them. He was the arbitrator between the Sūfīs of the university of Qayrawān and Ibn Abī Zayd al-Mālikī when the latter denied that Allāh could be seen in this world8 He was profoundly admired by the Hanbalīs of Baghdād although he was the chief authority of the Ashʿarī school in his time. When he died, the Shaykh of the Hanbalīs and Ibn al-Bāqillānī's friend of seven years, Abū al-Fadl al-Tamīmī, came barefoot to his funeral with others of his school and ordered a herald to open the procession shouting: "This is the Aider of the Sunna and the Religion! This is the Imām of Muslims! This is the defender of the Sharīʿa! This is the one who authored 70,000 folios!" He was buried near the grave of Ahmad ibn Hanbal, and his grave is a place of visitation, seeking blessings (tabarruk), and praying for rain (istisqā').

* Fadl al-Jihād

* Hidāyat al-Mustarshidīn.

* Al-Ibāna ʿan Ibtāl Madhhab Ahl al-Kufr wal-Dalāla ("Exposition of the Invalidity of the School of the People of Disbelief and Misguidance").

* Iʿjāz al-Qur'ān. In this work, Ibn al-Bāqillānī contrasts several orations of the Prophet ﷺ Allāh bless and greet him -, the Companions, and others with the Qur'anic style to demonstrate the inimitability of the Qur'anic style. He presents a detailed critique of the Muʿallaqa of Umru' al-Qays and al-Bahtarī's Lāmiyya - both considered masterpieces of literary achievement - and points out their defects and weaknesses. However, he believes inimitability does not depend on rhetoric but is merely enhanced by it.

* Al-Insāf fīmā Yajibu Iʿtiqāduhu walā Yajūzu al-Jahlu bih. In this book Ibn al-Bāqillānī demonstrates that
(1) the Divine Attributes are in now way conceived as limbs (jawārih);
(2) the Divine Attributes that suggest emotions such as love, anger, approval, mercy, friendship, enmity, etc. denote His will of a certain state for their object;
(3) the Divine Attributes of Essence (sifāt dhāt) have no beginning nor does His description by the same have any beginning, while His Divine Attributes of Act (sifāt afʿāl) are preceded by Him (sabaqahā): He exists before them, without beginning;
(4) His Speech is an Attribute of Essence;
(5) the created act of recitation is other than the uncreated Qur'ān being recited;
(6) every īmān is islām but not vice-versa; and other foundational Ashʿarī tenets.

* Al-Intisār.

* Al-Istishhād

* Al-Kuffar wal-Muta'awwilīn wa-Hukm al-Dār.

* Manāqib al-A'imma.

* Al-Milal wal-Nihal.

* Al-Tabyīn fī Adab al-Jidāl.

* Al-Taʿdīl wal-Tajrīh.

* Tamhīd al-Awā'il fī Talkhīs al-Dalā'il, his most famous work, in which he expands on the doctrines discussed in the Insāf and refutes unIslamic creeds such as Trinitarianism and Brahmanism.9


1 Al-Dhahabī, Mukhtasar al-ʿUluw (p. 258 §139).

2 Tabaqāt al-Shāfiʿiyya al-Kubrā (3:351).

3 Cited by al-Kawtharī in his notes on Imām al-Haramayn's Nizāmiyya (p. 21).

4 Muhammad ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Sālih (287-375).

5 Narrated from Abū al-Walīd al-Bājī's Firaq al-Fuqahā' by al-Dhahabī in Tadhkirat al-Huffāz (3:1104-1105). Ibn ʿAsākir narrates something similar.

6 Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bārī (2:204, 4:32) cf. al-Qādī ʿIyād in al-Nawawī's Sharh Sahīh Muslim (4:56, 5:419-420) and al-Shawkānī in Nayl al-Awtār (2:230).

7 Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bārī (8:440).

8 This is in line with the position related from Imām Mālik whereby the Creator cannot be seen by the created with eyes that are bound for extinction - that is, in the world - but only with eyes that are bound for everlastingness See our article, "The Vision of Allāh in the World and the Hereafter" http://www.sunnahorg/aqida/haddad/Beatific%20Vision.htm.

9 Tabyīn (p. 217-225); Siyar (13:114-116 §3724); Tārīkh Baghdād (5:379-383); al-Qādī ʿIyād, Tartīb al-Madārik (1:242-259, 4:585-602); Ibn ʿImād, Shadharāt al-Dhahab (3:168-170); al-Darqash, Abū Muhammad ʿAbd Allāh ibn Abī Zayd (p. 242-243).


by GF Haddad - Rabiʿ al-Awwal 1424

Al-Sābūnī, Ismāʿīl ibn ʿAbd al-Rahmān ibn Ahmad ibn Ismāʿīl ibn Ibrāhīm ibn ʿAmir, Abū ʿUthmān al-Sābūnī al-Shāfiʿī (d 449), Shaykh al-Islām, the foremost pious jurist, hadīth Scholar, preacher, commentator of Qur'ān, "the true Imām of the Muslims and the real Shaykh of Islām" (al-Bayhaqī), "Sword of the Sunna, Repeller of bidʿa" (ʿAbd al-Ghāfir al-Fārisī), and "Scourge of the deviants" (Abū Ishāq al-Isfarāyīnī), of awesome fame in the regions of Khurāsān and among the signatories of the Ashʿarī statement written by Imām al-Qushayrī at the time of the anti-Ashʿarī fitna there. Ibn al-Subkī said that when the anthropomorphists of Herāt saw his fame, they began to name Abū Ismāʿīl ʿAbd Allāh al-Ansārī, the author of the anti-Ashʿarī book Dhamm al-Kalām, with the same title of "Shaykh al-Islām."

He was the student of the Ashʿarī Imām Abū Muhammad al-Juwaynī the father of Imām al-Haramayn. Al-Sābūnī said: "If Shaykh Abū Muhammad had been born among the Israelites, they would have transmitted his immense merits to us and he would have made their pride."

Al-Sābūnī held gatherings of dhikr and waʿz for seventy years and was imām in Naysabūr for twenty. Orphaned as a boy after his father Abū Nasr was killed for his preaching, he was raised by the Ashʿarī Sūfī Imām, Abū al-Tayyib Sahl al-Suʿlūkī who then attended al-Sabūnī's gatherings and praised him for his high manners, intelligence, eloquence in both Arabic and Persian, memorization, and mastery of the Qur'ān and Sunna as did the other Imāms of the time such as Abū Ishāq al-Isfarāyīnī and Ibn Fūrak.

Out of respect, al-Sābūnī would face away from al-Suʿlūkī when delivering a sermon, but Abū al-Tayyib said to him: "Face me and do not look away from me!" Abū ʿUthmān said: "I am ashamed to speak in your face." The Imām said: "Observe his wisdom." Al-Bayhaqī narrated: "I swear that the Imām Abū ʿAbd Allāh al-Hākim, in spite of his great age, hadith Mastery, and scholarliness, used to get up for the Teacher [al-Sābūnī] when he entered to see him, call him 'the peerless Ustādh,' publicize his knowledge and merit, and repeat his words in his discourse."

Among al-Sābūnī's sayings:

* "I never narrated a hadīth nor a non-Prophetic report in a gathering except I possessed its chain of transmission; nor did I ever enter the library except in a state of ritual purity; nor did I ever narrate hadīth, nor hold a gathering, nor teach, except in a state of ritual purity."

* "Ever since I knew that the Prophet ﷺ used to recite Sūrat al-Jumuʿa and Sūrat al-Munāfiqīn in the first two rakʿas of the Night prayer on Jumuʿa, I never missed reciting them."

* "Allāh is much exalted beyond what both the negators (al-muʿattila ) and anthropomorphists (al-mushabbiha ) claim. I tread in the verses that mention the Attributes of the Creator awj and the authentic Prophetic narrations in that chapter... the path of the pious Predecessors and the Imāms of the Religion in accepting them and narrating them after ascertaining the soundness of their transmission chain, citing them in their external wordings, confirming them, fully assenting to them, but guarding against any belief of modality or anthropomorphism in them, avoiding what leads to rejecting them or altering them through reproved figurative interpretation (ta'wīl ) for which Allāh never gave authority, nor did the Companions, Successors, and pious Salaf say anything like it."1

Al-Samʿānī said that supplication is answered at Ismāʿīl al-Sābūnī's grave.2


1In Ibn al-Subkī, Tabaqāt al-Shāfiʿiyya al-Kubrā (4:288).

2Ibn al-Subkī, Tabaqāt al-Shāfiʿiyya al-Kubrā (4:271-292 §368).


by GF Haddad - Rabiʿ al-Awwal 1424

Abū Nuʿaym, Ahmad ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Ahmad ibn Ishāq ibn Mūsā ibn Mahrān al-Mihrānī al-Asbahānī or al-Asfahānī al-Ahwal al-Ashʿarī al-Shāfiʿī (336-430), the Imām, erudite scholar, Sūfī, Shaykh al-Islām, and major trustworthy hadīth Master. His first teachers were his grandfather the Sūfī master Muhammad ibn Yūsuf al-Bannā' al-Asbahānī and his father, a hadīth scholar who had travelled all over the Islamic world. Under his father's direction Abū Nuʿaym began his scholarly career very early, and before the age of ten possessed certificates of narration transmission from all the major shaykhs of the Islamic world in his time, obtained for him by his father.

Among them: al-Muʿammar ʿAbd Allāh ibn ʿUmar ibn Shawdhab in Wāsit, Abū al-ʿAbbās al-Asamm in Naysabūr, Khaythama ibn Sulaymān al-Atrābulsī in Shām, Jaʿfar ibn Muhammad ibn Nusayr al-Khuldī and Abū Sahl ibn Zyad al-Qattān in Baghdād, Abū Bakr ibn al-Sunni in Daynur, and others.
Subsequently he took hadīth and narrated it from and to an innumerable list of shaykhs and students.
Among his shuyūkh: al-Tabarānī, Abū al-Shaykh, al-Ajurrī, al-Hākim, and others.
Among his students were al-Khatīb, al-Malīnī, al-Dhakwānī, Abū al-Fadl Hamd ibn Ahmad al-Haddād, his brother Abū ʿAlī al-Hasan, and others.

Many of Abū Nuʿaym's Shaykhs did not certify any other than him in their lifetime, hence the statement of the hadīth Scholars that "Abū Nuʿaym possessed chains of transmission that no one else in the world possessed in his time." Because of the two factors of having received many of these chains at a very early age and the fact that he lived almost a hundred years, Abū Nuʿaym also became famous for the shortness of his chains. This is attribute is much prized among hadīth Scholars in view of the rule that the shorter a chain of transmission is, the stronger the probability that its narration is error-free. Hence, Ahmad ibn Hanbal's statement: "The pursuit of short transmission chains is a Sunna inherited from those who came before." One drawback of Abū Nuʿaym's unique chains is that some of his shaykhs are unheard-of and therefore of unverifiable reliability.

Abū Nuʿaym was assiduous in the pursuit of knowledge according to the manner of the ascetic scholars. Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Mardūyah said of him: "He had no other sustenance than giving audition (al-tasmīʿ ) and writing." This quality joined with his superlative intelligence and early start to make him one of the major hadīth Masters and compilers in Islām and the most sought-after hadīth narrator in his time. Ibn Mardūyah states that even during the time that he walked home from his mosque gatherings, a student would be reading a volume of hadīth to him on the way. Al-Khatīb said: "I did not see anyone for whom the unqualified term "the hadīth Master" (al-hāfiz ) was used except two men: Abū Nuʿaym and Abū Hāzim al-ʿAbdawī." Hamza ibn al-ʿAbbās al-ʿAlawī said: "The hadīth scholars used to say that the hadīth Master Abū Nuʿaym remained for fourteen years without equal, no one from East to West possessing any chain of transmission shorter than his, and there was no one stronger in memorization."

Abū Nuʿaym was Ashʿarī in doctrine as indicated by Ibn ʿAsākir's inclusion of him in the second generation-layer of al-Ashʿarī's students and as stated by Ibn al-Jawzī in his great history, al-Muntazam. This is confirmed by Abū Nuʿaym's doctrinal criticism of Ibn Mandah when it is known that the latter narrated anthropomorphist views and his authoring al-Radd ʿalā al-Hurūfiyya al-Hulūliyya ("Refutation of the Letter-Worshippers Who Believe in Indwelling") against Ibn Mandah's belief that the pronunciation of the Qur'an is uncreated1 Because of this adherence, Abū Nuʿaym was boycotted by extremist Hanbalīs in his time. Al-Dhahabī narrates the following incident from Muhammad ibn ʿAbd al-Jabbār al-Fursānī:

In my childhood I attended Abū Bakr ibn Abī ʿAlī al-Muʿaddil's gathering with my father. When the gathering ended someone said: "If anyone wants to attend Abū Nuʿaym's gathering, let us go!" Abū Nuʿaym followed a different doctrine from al-Muʿaddil's and was boycotted by the latter's circle because of that. For there was too much hostile partisanship between Ashʿarīs and Hanbalīs, leading to dissension. Hearing the man, the hadīth scholars surrounded him with their pen-knives and he was almost killed.

Al-Dhahabī then comments: "I say, these are not hadīth scholars but ignorant transgressors - may Allāh keep their harm away!"

Abū Nuʿaym's extreme mutual enmity with the Hanbalī hadīth Master Ibn Mandah for the same reasons gave rise to sharp criticism from both sides. However, the rule followed by the succeding scholars in this and every case of mutual disaffection between contemporary rivals (aqrān mutanāfisūn ), is to ignore the attacks of each with regard to the other. Another problem sometimes raised with respect to Abū Nuʿaym is his narration of a number of forgeries in Hilyat al-Awliyā', but the scholars have replied that he always named his narrators, which allows one to assess the reliability of every report he cites.

Ibn al-Salāh in his manual of hadīth science named Abū Nuʿaym among the seven Acholars of highest excellence in the authorship of works in Islām.2

Abū Nuʿaym authored over a hundred works Among them:

* Al-Arbaʿīn ʿalā Madhhab al-Mutahaqqiqīn min al-Sūfiyya, in print

* Dalā'il al-Nubuwwa ("The Signs and Proofs of Prophethood"), devoted entirely to the person of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ , this large work - partly in print - was expanded by al-Bayhaqī to seven volumes in a like-titled work.

* Dhikr Akhbār Asbahān ("Memorial of the Chronicles of Ispahan"), in print

* Al-Duʿafā', in print

* Fadā'il al-Khulafā' al-Arbaʿa wa Ghayrihim, in print

* Fadīlat al-ʿAdilīn min al-Wulāt, a collection of over forty narrations on just government and the duties of the governed towards the rulers. Al-Sakhāwī documented each narration in detail and both the work and its documentation were published.

* Hilyat al-Awliyā' wa Tabaqāt al-Asfiya' ("The Adornment of the Friends of Allāh awjand the Biography-Layers of the Pure Ones") in ten volumes, one of the earliest comprehensive encyclopedias of Sūfī personalities. The book sold in Abū Nuʿaym's lifetime in Naysabūr for four hundred gold dinars and received many editions to our time. Ibn al-Jawzī attacked him for including the Companions in it, then proceeded to epitomize it in his two-volume Sifat al-Safwa, in which he studiously avoided using the words sūfī and tasawwuf. Ibn Kathīr praised the work as an illustration of the author's strength in hadīth narration. Ibn al-Subkī relates that this book was among Shaykh al-Islām Taqī al-Dīn al-Subkī's favorite works. Abū Nuʿaym stated the following in his introduction:

I have compiled a book that comprises the names, narrations, and sayings of a number of personalities among the most eminent verifying Sūfīs and their Imāms, arranged in the order of their biographical layers (Tabaqāt) and including those famous for abundant worship together with their methods. It begins with the time of the Companions, their Successors, and those who came after them.

- Juzʿ fī Turuq Hadīth Inna Lillāhi Tisʿatun wa Tisʿīna Isman, in print
- Al-Mahdī.
- Maʿrifat al-Sahāba wa Fadā'ilihim ("Knowing the Companions and Their Merits"), in print. This book was the basis of subsequent similar works by Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr, Ibn al-Athīr, and Ibn Hajar.
- Musnad al-Imām Abī Hanīfa, in print
- Al-Mustakhraj ʿalā al-Bukhārī ("Additional Narrations Meeting al-Bukhārī's Criterion"), in print
- Al-Mustakhraj ʿalā Muslim ("Aditional Narrations Meeting Muslim's Criterion"), in print
- Riyādat al-Abdān, in print
- Al-Shuʿarā' ("The Poets").
- Al-Sifāt Al-Suyūtī mentioned it in his commentary on Sūrat al-Nās in his book al-Iklīl fī Istinbāt al-Tanzīl.
- Sifat al-Janna ("Description of Paradise"), in print
- Tabaqāt al-Muhaddithīn wal-Ruwāt ("Biography-Layers of the Hadīth Scholars and Narrators").
- Tasmiyatu mā Intahā ilaynā min al-Ruwāt ʿan al-Fadl ibn Dukayn ʿAliyan, in print
- Tasmiyatu mā Intahā ilaynā min al-Ruwāt ʿan Saʿīd ibn Mansūr ʿAliyan, in print
- Tathbīt al-Imāma wa Tartīb al-Khilāfa, in print, a refutation of Shīʿism.
- Al-Tibb al-Nabawī ("Prophetic Medicine").

One of the miraculous gifts bestowed upon Abū Nuʿaym was his banishment from the mosque of Ispahan by a group of people there. The same people, unhappy with the Sultan Mahmūd ibn Subktukin's appointment of a certain man as governor for them, ambushed and killed the man. Later, the Sultan, pretending to reconcile them, reunited them in the mosque from which Abū Nuʿaym had been banned and massacred them to the last man. Thus Abū Nuʿaym's banishment had saved his life.3


1 Cf. Abū Nuʿaym, Dhikr Akhbār Asbahān (2:306), al-Dhahabī, Siyar (Risāla ed 17:462), and Ibn Taymiyya, Majmūʿ al-Fatāwā (12:209) and Dar' Taʿārud al-ʿAql wal-Naql (Ed Muhammad al-Sayyid Julaynid, Cairo: Mu'assasat al-Ahrām, 1988) 1:268=Muwāfaqat Sarīh al-Maʿqūl (1:160) on the margins of Minhāj al-Sunna al-Nabawiyya (Bulāq: al-Matbaʿat al-Kubrā al-Amīriyya, 1904).

2 Ibn al-Salāh, ʿUlūm al-Hadīth (p. 348).

3 Tabyīn (p. 243); Siyar (13:293-299 §3919); Tabaqāt al-Huffāz (3:1094); Tabaqāt al-Shāfiʿiyya al-Kubrā (4:18-25 §254); al-Muntazam (8:101).


by GF Haddad - Rabiʿ al-Awwal 1424

Al-Hākim, Muhammad ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Muhammad ibn Hamdūyah, Abū ʿAbd Allāh al-Dabbī al-Tamhānī al-Naysabūrī al-Shāfiʿī, also known as Ibn al-Bayyiʿ (321-405). The Imām, hadīth Master, expert in hadīth criticism, and Shaykh of hadīth Masters. He took hadīth from about two thousand authorities in Khurāsān, Iraq, Transoxiana and elsewhere. Among the most prominent of the Masters who narrated hadīth from him are his own teacher al-Dāraqutnī - who declared him stronger in hadīth than Ibn Mandah, - al-Bayhaqī, al-Qushayrī, and others.

Abū Hazim said that al-Hākim was peerless in his time in Khurāsān, the Hijāz, al-Shām, Iraq, Rayy, Tabaristān, and Transoxiana. His fame became widespread with lightning speed in his own lifetime. Al-Dhahabī said: "I saw an incredible thing, which is that the muhaddith of al-Andalus Abū ʿUmar al-Talamankī copied al-Hākim's book ʿUlūm al-Hadīth ("The Sciences of Hadīth") in the year 389 from a shaykh which he named, from another narrator, from al-Hākim."

Al-Hākim belongs to the second generation of the Ashʿarī school, having taken al-Ashʿarī's doctrine at the hands of his students, among them Abū Sahl al-Suʿlūkī. He took tasawwuf from al-Sulamī's grandfather and teacher Abū ʿAmr ibn Nujayd, Abū al-Hasan al-Būshanjī, Abū Saʿīd Ahmad ibn Yaʿqūb al-Thaqafī, Abū Nasr al-Saffār, Abū Qāsim al-Rāzī, Jaʿfar ibn Nusayr, Abū ʿAmr al-Zujājī, Jaʿfar ibn Ibrāhīm al-Hadhdhā', and Abū ʿUthmān al-Maghribī.

Al-Hākim said: "I drank water from Zamzam and asked Allāh for excellence in writing books". He authored the following works among others:

- Al-Abwāb ("The Chapters")
- Al-Amālī ("The Dictations")
- Amālī al-ʿAshiyyāt ("Night Dictations")
- Fadā'il al-Shāfiʿī ("The Immense Merits of al-Shāfiʿī")
- Fawā'id al-Nusakh ("Benefits of the Copies")
- Fawā'id al-Khurāsāniyyīn ("Benefits of the People of Khurāsān")
- Al-Iklīl fī Dalā'il al-Nubuwwa ("The Diadem: The Marks of Prophethood")
- Al-ʿIlal ("The Defects of Hadīth")
- Mā Tafarrada bi Ikhrājihi Kullu Wāhidin min al-Imāmayn ("Reports Found Only in al-Bukhārī or Only in Muslim")
- Al-Madkhal ilā ʿIlm al-Sahīh ("Introduction to the Science of Sound Reports")
- Maʿrifat Anwāʿ ʿUlūm al-Hadīth ("Knowledge of the Different Types of the Hadīth Sciences")
- Al-Mustadrak ʿalā al-Sahīhayn ("Supplement for What is Missing From al-Bukhārī and Muslim")
- Muzakkā al-Akhbār ("Verified Reports")
- Al-Sahīhān ("The Two Books of sahīh Hadīths")
- Al-Talkhīs ("The Summary")
- Tarājim al-Musnad ʿalā Shart al-Sahīhayn ("The Reports of Ahmad's Musnad That Match the Criteria of the Two Books of Sahīh")
- Tarājim al-Shuyūkh ("Biographies of the Shaykhs")
- Tārīkh ʿUlamā' Ahl Naysabūr ("History of the Scholars of Naysabūr"), etc.

It is narrated that a man of letters named Abū al-Fadl al-Hamadhānī came to Naysabūr where he acquired a following and was named Badīʿ al-Zamān ("Wonder of the Age"), whereupon he became self-infatuated.

If he heard someone recite a hundred verses of poetry but once, he was able to recite them back from memory, starting from the end and back to the beginning. One day he criticized someone for saying: "So-and-so the memorizer of hadīth," exclaiming: "Memorizing hadīth! Is it worthy of mention?" When he heard of this, al-Hākim sent him a book of hadīth and challenged him to memorize it in a week. Al-Hamadhānī returned the book to him and said: "Who can memorize this? 'Muhammad son of So-and-So and Jaʿfar son of So-and-So reported from So-and-So' - It is filled with all sorts of different names and terms!" Al-Hākim said: "Therefore know yourself, and understand that to memorize such as this is beyond your sphere."

Al-Hākim's Mustadrak was criticized by the hadīth scholars due to the number of mistakes and inaccuracies found in it. Al-Sakhāwī in al-Iʿlān wal-Tawbīkh and others mention that he declares many forged reports to be rigorously authentic - up to 100 according to some authorities - not to mention weak ones, instead of clinging to his own expressed precondition that only reports with chains of the rank of al-Bukhārī's and Muslim's would be retained. For example, he narrates in the Mustadrak from Ibn ʿAbbās that Allāh awj revealed to the Prophet ﷺ: "I have killed seventy thousand [in punishment] for [the murder of] Yahyā ibn Zakariyya and I will kill seventy thousand times seventy thousand [in punishment] for [the murder of] your daughter's son al-Husayn." Al-Hākim said this report has a sound chain while al-Dhahabī added: "By the criterion of Muslim" but Ibn Hibbān said this hadīth is untraceable (lā asla lahu), al-Dhahabī himself rejected its matn as munkar in the Siyar while Ibn Kathir similarly declared it "highly anomalous" (gharīb jiddan) in al-Bidāya.1

Al-Dhahabī went to excess in regretting that al-Hākim had compiled the Mustadrak in the first place.2 His classing al-Hākim "among those who are lenient, like al-Tirmidhī"3 does not apply to al-Hākim in absolute terms but only to his grading of narrations in the Mustadrak, which the Scholars pointed out he compiled in his old age, intending to revise it, a task left unfinished beyond the first volume.4 This is proven by the fact that al-Hākim's mistakes are fewer in the first volume of the Mustadrak, as shown by al-Dhahabī's own minimal corrections there. "Outside of the Mustadrak," Shaykh Mahmūd Mamdūh said, "his positions are as strict as those of any of the meticulous Imāms of hadīth"5 In fact, al-Hākim often criticizes al-Bukhārī and Muslim for narrating hadīths from narrators who have been questioned.6 More accurately, the criterion of soundness (sihha) for both al-Hākim and al-Dhahabī includes the narrations others classified as merely fair (hasan).7

Al-Kattānī in al-Risāla al-Mustatrafa described the Mustadrak as consisting half of sound narrations per the criteria of al-Bukhārī and Muslim or of either one, a quarter of sound narrations that do not meet their criteria, and a quarter of unsound narrations including forgeries. Among the takhrīj commentaries on the Mustadrak are al-Dhahabī's Talkhīs al-Mustadrak, al-Suyūtī's Tawdīh al-Madrak fī Tashīh al-Mustadrak, a work by Burhān al-Dīn al-Halabī, and others such as the recent Tanbīh al-Wāhim by Ramadān ʿAlī Muhammad.

Another criticism is al-Hākim's alleged Shīʿīsm. Al-Dhahabī once names him "one of the oceans of knowledge although a little bit Shīʿī" (ʿalā tashayyuʿin qalīlin fīh), another time "al-Hākim the Shīʿī," and another time "a famous Shīʿī" (shīʿiyyun mashhūr),8 an echo of Ibn al-Jawzī's barb: "Al-Hākim was Shīʿī-leaning (mutashayyiʿ) and this is a flagrant trait of his."9 Ibn al-Subkī rejects the label of Shīʿī as baseless because Ibn ʿAsākir includes al-Hākim among the Ashʿarīs, who consider the Shīʿīs innovators. Yet this label is still branded as a blemish today at the hands of those who oppose his positions if they weaken theirs, and those who oppose him for being a follower of al-Ashʿarī, or for being a Sūfī.

The first hadīth of the Prophet ﷺ upon him blessings and peace - al-Hākim narrated in his Maʿrifat ʿUlūm al-Hadīth is: "May Allāh make radiant the face of one who heard one of my sayings and then carried it to others. It may be that one carries understanding without being a person of understanding; it may be that one carries understanding to someone who possesses more understanding than he."10

On the 3rd of Safar 405 al-Hākim went into the bath, came out after bathing, said "Ah" and died wearing but a waist-cloth before he had time to put on a shirt Al-Hasan ibn Ashʿath al-Qurashī said: "I saw al-Hākim in my dream riding a horse in a handsome appearance and saying: 'Salvation.' I asked him: ʿAl-Hākim! In what?' He replied: 'Writing hadīth.'"11


1See Ibn Hibbān, al-Majrūhīn (2:215), al-Khatīb, Tārīkh Baghdād (1:142), al-Hākim (1990 ed 2:319, 2:648, and 3:195), Fayd al-Qadīr (1:205), Tadhkirat al-Huffāz (1:77 gharīb), Mīzān (sv. Qāsim ibn Ibrāhīm al-Hāshimī), and Siyar (Risāla ed 4:342-343).

2"It would have been better if al-Hākim had never compiled it"! As mentioned by Dr. Bashshar ʿAwwad Maʿrūf in his doctoral thesis al-Dhahabī wa Manhajuhu fī Kitābihi Tārīkh al-Islām.

3In Dhikr Man Yuʿtamadu Qawluhu fīl-Jarh wal-Taʿdīl (p. 172).

4Cf. al-Sakhāwī, Fath al-Mughīth (1:36) and Mamdūh, Rafʿ al-Mināra (p. 153 n. 1).


6Shaykh ʿAbd Allāh Sirāj al-Dīn said in Sharh al-Manzūma al-Bayqūniyya (p. 47): "Al-Suyūtī said in al-Tadrīb [Egyptian ed p. 72] that Ibn al-Salāh excepted the hadīths that attracted criticism [from his statement that all that is in the two Sahīhs is definitely sahīh]. These are the hadīths which al-Dāraqutnī and others have criticized, 210 narrations as the hāfiz Ibn Hajar said, 32 shared by al-Bukhārī and Muslim, while al-Bukhārī alone has 78 and Muslim alone 100."

7For a critique of al-Dhahabī's statement about al-Tirmidhī's leniency see ʿItr's masterpiece al-Imām al-Tirmidhī.

8"Al-Dhahabī likes to fuss over whomever he suspects of tashayyuʿ." Al-Ghumārī, al-Mudāwī (5:424). Al-Dhahabī goes so far - in the Siyar (10:627) - as to claim that al-Hākim leans to the Karrāmiyya!

9Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntazam (8:269).

10A mass-transmitted (mutawātir) hadīth narrated from the following Companions:

 (1) Zayd ibn Thābit by al-Tirmidhī (hasan in the printed eds), Abū Dāwūd, Ibn Mājah, Ahmad, al-Dārimī, al-Shāfiʿī in his Risāla (§1102), al-Tabarānī in al-Kabīr (§4891-4892, §4925, §4994), Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr in Jāmiʿ Bayān al-ʿIlm (1:175 §184), al-Rāmahurmuzī in al-Muhaddith al-Fāsil (p. 64), Ibn Abī ʿAsim in al-Sunna (p. 45 §94), al-Khatīb in Sharaf Ashāb al-Hadīth (p. 24) and al-Faqīh wa al-Mutafaqqih (2:71), al-Tahāwī in Sharh Mushkil al-Athār (2:232=4:282 §1600), and Ibn Hibbān (1:270 §67, 2:454 §680), all with sound chains as stated by al-Arna'ūt and others;

 (2) Jubayr ibn Mutʿim by Ibn Mājah, Ahmad, al-Dārimī, al-Tabarānī in al-Kabīr (§1541-1544), Abū Yaʿlā in his Musnad (1:347 §7413), al-Hākim (1:87= 1990 ed 1:162), al-Qudāʿī in Musnad al-Shihāb (§1421), al-Tahāwī in Sharh Mushkil al-Athār (2:232= 4:282 §1601), al-Khatīb in Sharaf Ashāb al-Hadīth (p. 18), and Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr in Jāmiʿ Bayān al-ʿIlm (1:184-187 §195-197), all with weak chains because of Muhammad ibn Ishāq who is a concealer in his narrative chains (mudallis), cf. al-Haythamī (1:139);

 (3) Anas by Ibn Mājah, Ahmad, al-Tabarānī in al-Awsat, and Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr in Jāmiʿ Bayān al-ʿIlm (1:187-189 §198-199) with weak chains - as stated by al-Haythamī (1:138-139) - the collected force of which raise the hadīth to the grade of fair;

 (4) Abū Saʿīd al-Khudrī by al-Bazzār with a chain of trustworthy narrators except for Saʿīd ibn Bāzigh who may be unknown as stated by al-Haythamī (1:137);

 (5) Abū al-Dardā' by al-Dārimī and al-Tabarānī in al-Kabīr with a very weak chain because of ʿAbd al-Rahmān ibn Zayd ("ibn Zubayd al-Yāmī" in al-Dārimī) as stated by al-Haythamī (1:137);

 (6) ʿUmayr ibn Qatāda al-Laythī by al-Tabarānī in al-Kabīr with a chain containing one narrator whose state is unsure as mentioned by al-Haythamī (1:138);

 (7) al-Nuʿmān ibn Bashīr by al-Tabarānī in al-Kabīr with a very weak chain because of ʿIsā al-Khabbāt and by al-Hākim (1:88=1990 ed 1:164) with a sound chain as confirmed by al-Dhahabī and as indicated by al-Haythamī (1:138);

 (8) Jābir and  (9) Saʿd ibn Abī Waqqās by al-Tabarānī in al-Awsat with weak chains as stated by al-Haythamī (1:138-139);

 (10) Ibn Masʿūd by al-Tirmidhī with two chains (hasan sahīh), Ibn Mājah, Ahmad, Abū Yaʿlā in his Musnad (§5126, §5296), al-Shāfiʿī in his (1:14), al-Baghawī in Sharh al-Sunna (1:233-234), al-Khatīb in al-Kifāya (p. 29, p. 173) and Sharaf Ashāb al-Hadīth (p. 18-19, p. 26), al-Bayhaqī in Maʿrifat al-Sunan (1:15-16, 1:43) and Dalā'il al-Nubuwwa (6:540), Abū Nuʿaym in Tārīkh Asbahān (2:90) and al-Hilya (7:331) where he graded it sahīh, al-Hākim in Maʿrifat ʿUlūm al-Hadīth (p. 322), Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr in Jāmiʿ Bayān al-ʿIlm (1:178-182 §188-191), Ibn Hibbān (1:268 §66, 1271-272 §68-69) with three fair chains according to al-Arna'ūt, one of them with the wording "Allāh have mercy on someone who hears a hadīth from me then conveys it..."

Al-Kattānī in Nazm al-Mutanāthir adds the following Companion-narrators of this hadīth:

 (11) Bashīr ibn al-Nuʿmān;
 (12) Muʿādh ibn Jabal;
 (13) Abū Qirfāsa;
 (14) Rabīʿa ibn ʿUthmān al-Taymī;
 (15) Ibn ʿUmar;
 (16) Zayd ibn Khālid al-Juhanī;
 (17) ʿA'isha; (18) Abū Hurayra; and
 (19) Shayba ibn ʿUthmān.

Al-Tirmidhī's version does not mention the last sentence while al-Shāfiʿī's adds "and guard them from delusion." This is the first narration in al- Ajurrī's book al-Sharīʿa. On the variant wordings of this important hadīth also see ʿAbd al-Fattāh Abū Ghudda's al-Rasūl al-Muʿallim (p. 55-56).

11Tabyīn (p. 226-229); Mīzān (3:608 §7804, 3:551 §7544); Siyar (13:97-106 §3714); Tabaqāt al-Shāfiʿiyya al-Kubrā (4:155-171 §329).


by GF Haddad - Rabiʿ al-Awwal 1424

Yūsuf1 ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Muhammad Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr, Abū ʿUmar al-Namarī al-Andalusī al-Qurtubī al-Mālikī (368-463). A major hadīth Master of the Mālikī School. Ibn Farhūn says he was the greatest memorizer of the Sunna in his time and Ibn al-Subkī mentions him in the fifth synchronical layer of those who followed the School of al-Ashʿarī in doctrine along with Abū al-Walīd al-Bājī, Abū al-Hasan al-Qābisī, Abū al-Qāsim ibn ʿAsākir, Abū al-Hasan al-Murādī, Abū Saʿd ibn al-Samʿānī, Abū Tāhir al-Silafī, al-Qādī ʿIyād, and al-Shahrastānī. He studied under Ibn al-Makwī, Ibn al-Fardī, Ahmad ibn ʿAbd al-Mālik ibn Hishām, and took hadīth from Saʿīd ibn Nasr, ʿAbd al-Wārith, Ahmad ibn Qāsim al-Bazzār, Khalf ibn Sahl, Abū ʿUmar al-Talamankī, and many others Al-Qurtubī cites him about five hundred times in his Tafsīr. Of his book al-Tamhīd his friend Ibn Hazm said: "I do not know of anything like it with regard to the superlative understanding of hadīth, let alone better than it."

Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr initially followed the School of Dāwūd al-Zāhirī and befriended Ibn Hazm. He left that school and turned to that of Imām Mālik, while leaning towards the Shāfiʿī school. His literalist bend is evident in doctrine, and "Salafīs" are fond of quoting his apparent attribution of place, direction, and corporeality to Allāh Most High in al-Tamhīd:

The hadīth [of the descent of Allāh] provides evidence that Allāh is in () the heaven, on (ʿalā) the Throne, above (fawq) seven heavens, as the Congregation (jamāʿa) said, and this is part of their proof against the Muʿtazila and the Jahmiyya's claim that Allāh is in every place and not on the Throne.2 ... An entity cannot be conceived to exist without place in relation to us, and whatever is without place is non-existent. 3

However, Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr also narrates with his chain from Mutarrif, a few pages further, that Imām Mālik said: "It is our Lord's command which descends" He then admits: "It is possible that the matter be as Mālik said, and Allāh knows best"4

Ibn Jahbal al-Kilābī said:

Concerning what Abū ʿUmar ibn ʿAbd al-Barr said [in apparent attribution of place, direction, and corporeality to Allāh Most High], both the elite and the general public know the man's position and the scholars' disavowal of if. The Mālikīs' condemnation of it, from the first to the last of them, is well-known. His contravention of the Imām of North Africa, Abū al-Walīd al-Bājī, is famous. It reached a point that the eminent people of North Africa would say: "No one in North Africa holds this position except he and Ibn Abī Zayd!" although some of the people of knowledge cited an excuse for Ibn Abī Zayd in the text of the great qādī Abū Muhammad ʿAbd al-Wahhāb [ibn ʿAlī ibn Nasr al-Baghdādī (d 422)] al-Baghdādī al-Mālikī5 - may Allāh have mercy on him. 6

In the same chapter of al-Tamhīd cited above, Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr rejects Mujāhid's alleged tafsīr of the Exalted Station (in verse 17:79) as consisting in the seating of the Prophet ﷺ Allāh bless and greet him - with Allāh Most High on His Throne.7

The "Salafis" also quote Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr's apparent stand against kalām in his citation of Ibn Khuwayz Mindād: "The people of the innovated sects in the view of Imām Mālik and the remainder of our companions are the people of kalām. Every person of kalām is from the people of the innovated sects and innovations, whether he is an Ashʿarī or other than an Ashʿarī, and his witness is never accepted in Islām. Indeed, his witness is to be ostracised and he is to be punished for his innovation, and if he persists then repentance is sought from him."

This is Abū ʿAbd Allāh Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Khuwayz Mindād al-Basrī who narrated hadīth, but did not become known as a Muhaddith, much less a Hāfiz but was one of the Jurists and Usūliyyūn of the Mālikīs. He died in 390 and thus is not a companion of Imām Mālik but came 200 years and seven biographical layers later. His claim of what Imām Mālik supposedly said is thoroughly unreliable until he is confirmed independently, even if he produced his chain to Mālik's supposed statement (a fortiori if he does not even have a chain as in this case). Hence, Ibn Khuwayz Mindād's reports from Mālik "contain anomalies" and he "contradicts the Madhhab in both Fiqh and Usūl nor do the [Mālikī] experts rely on his positions" according to al-Qādī ʿIyād (d 544).8 ʿIyād also said: "He was not insightful in his positions nor strong in fiqh. Abū al-Walīd al-Bājī said of him: I never heard him mentioned once by the Ulema of Iraq." ʿIyād also exposes him as an extremist in his anti-kalām stance: "He alienated the Mutakallimīn of Ahl al-Sunna [i.e. the Ashʿarīs] and ruled that all of them were among the people of vain lusts (ahwā') concerning whom Mālik said his famous statement on [avoiding] their marriage, [rejecting] their witness and leadership, and alienating them."9

Imām Mālik certainly did not mean the Ashʿarīs but the Muʿtazilīs and their sub-sects by consensus in the statement in question, as is made clear, among others, by Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr himself in his report from the same Ibn Khuwayz Mindād on the previous page!10

It is known that Imām Mālik never retained any Muʿtazilīs, Qadarīs, or Khawārij in his Muwatta' as narrators while al-Bukhārī, Muslim and their students such as Imām al-Tirmidhī did narrate from Qadarīs and Jahmīs.11 Thus the misguided view Ibn Khuwayz Mindād expressed in including the Ashʿarīs among the people of innovation was rejected by his own School and is not considered in the least valid by the major Mālikī Huffāz and Fuqahā' such as Qādī ʿIyād, al-Māzarī, Abū Bakr ibn al-ʿArabī, Abūl-Walīd al-Bājī, al-Qurtubī, and others - all thorough Ashʿarīs.

Among Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr's books:

- Al-Ajwiba al-Mūʿiba ("The Comprehensive Answers");
- Al-ʿAql wal-ʿUqalā' ("Reason and the People of Wisdom");
- Ashʿār Abī al-ʿAtāhiya ("The Poems of Abū al-ʿAtahiya12");
- Al-Bayān fī Tilāwat al-Qur'ān ("The Exposition Concerning the Recitation of the Qur'ān");
- Al-Farā'id ("The Laws of Inheritance");
- Al-Iktifā' fī Qirā'at Nāfiʿin wa Abī ʿAmrin ("The Contentment in Nāfiʿ and Abū ʿAmr's Reading");
- Al-Inbāh ʿan Qabā'il al-Ruwāh ("Drawing Attention to the Nomenclature of the Narrators' Tribes");
- Al-Insāf fī Asmā' Allāh ("The Book of Fidelity: On the Names of Allāh");
- Al-Intiqā' fī Fadā'il al-Thalāthat al-A'immat al-Fuqahā' Mālik wal-Shāfiʿī wa Abī Hanīfa ("The Hand-Picked Excellent Merits of the Three Great Jurisprudent Imāms: Mālik, Shāfiʿī, and Abū Hanīfa"). Shaykh ʿAbd al-Fattāh Abū Ghudda said the order in the title reflects the precedence of Madīna over Makka and that of Makka over al-Kūfa.
- Al-Istidhkār li Madhhab ʿUlamā' al-Amsār fīmā Tadammanahu al-Muwatta' min Maʿānī al-Ra'ī wal-Athār ("The Memorization of the Doctrine of the Scholars of the World Concerning the Juridical Opinions and the Narrations Found in Mālik's Muwatta'");
- Al-Istīʿāb fī Asmā' al-Ashāb ("The Comprehensive Compilation of the Names of the Prophet's Companions");
- Jāmiʿ Bayān al-ʿIlmi wa-Fadlihi wamā Yanbaghī fī Riwāyatihi wa Hamlih ("Compendium Exposing the Nature of Knowledge and Its Immense Merit, and What is Required in the Process of Narrating it and Conveying it");
- Al-Kāfī fī Madhhab Mālik ("The Sufficiency in Mālik's School of Jurisprudence");
- Al-Kunā ("The Patronyms");
- Al-Maghāzī ("The Battles");
- Al-Qasd wal-Umam fī Nasab al-ʿArab wal-ʿAjam ("The Endeavors and the Nations: Genealogies of the Arabs and Non-Arabs");
- Al-Shawāhid fī Ithbāt Khabar al-Wāhid ("The Supporting Evidence for Maintaining Lone-Narrator Reports [as a source for legal rulings]");
- Al-Tamhīd limā fīl-Muwatta' min al-Maʿānī wal-Asānīd ("The Facilitation to the Meanings and Chains of Transmission Found in Mālik's Muwatta'");
- Al-Taqassī fī Ikhtisār al-Muwatta' ("The Detailed Study in the Abridgment of the Muwatta'");

Main sources: Siyar 13:524 §4158; Shajarat al-Nūr p. 119 §337; Ibn Farhūn, al-Dībāj p. 440-442 §626; Tabaqāt al-Shāfiʿiyya al-Kubrā 3:372.


1 Ibn Farhūn in al-Dībāj (p. 442) mentions that Yūsuf has six pronunciations in Arabic: yūsuf, yūsaf, yuwisif, yuwisuf, yuwisaf, and yu'sif.

2 Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr, al-Tamhīd (7:129). See above, section entitled Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr's Controversy (p. 466f.) as well as Shaykh Nuh Keller's article, "Is it permissible for a Muslim to believe that ʿAllāh is in the sky' in a literal sense?" at http://www.masud.co.uk/ and the discussion on istiwā' in our article, "Istiwā' is a Divine Act" cf. livingislam.org/istiwa_e.html.

3 Al-Tamhīd (7:135).

4 Al-Tamhīd (7:143).

5 Perhaps a reference to his commentary on Ibn Abī Zayd's Risāla (Dībāj p. 262).

6 In Tabaqāt al-Shāfiʿiyya al-Kubrā (9:78). See our forthcoming publication of Imām Ibn Jahbal al-Kilābī's Refutation of Ibn Taymiyya.

7 Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr, al-Tamhīd (7:157-158).

8 In Tartīb al-Madārik (Moroccan ed 7:77-78).

9 Ibn Farhūn (d 799) cites all of the above in al-Dībāj al-Mudhahhab (§491).

10 Cf. Jāmiʿ Bayān al-ʿIlm wa-Fadlih (1994 Saudi ed 2:942-943 §1800).

11 See on this the relevant chapter in al-Suyūtī's Tadrīb al-Rāwī.

12 Ismāʿīl ibn Qāsim ibn Suwayd (d 213).


by GF Haddad - Rabiʿ al-Awwal 1424

ʿAbd Allāh ibn Muhammad ibn ʿAlī Abū Ismāʿīl al-Harawī al-Ansārī al-Hanbalī (396-481), a major Sūfī shaykh, hadīth Master, Qur'ānic commentator, and philologist of the Hanbalī school eulogized by al-Dhahabī as "a genuine advocate of the transmitted sources" (atharī quhh). He used to distribute his wealth once a year to students and townspeople and was fearless in speaking the truth to princes. He is one of those known as "Shaykh al-Islām" but Ibn al-Subkī said: "He does not deserve that title but was given out of fanaticism, in imitation of Abū ʿUthmān [al-Sābūnī]."1

A fanatical censor of innovations, he was an arch-enemy of Ashʿarīs in his time, against whom he wrote Dhamm al-Kalām ("The Blame of Dialectic Theology"), admired by al-Dhahabī but banned by Ibn Hajar - who forbade his students to read it - as a model of bad writing.2 Because of this enmity he was expelled from Balkh repeatedly and jailed together with his students. Asked before Nizām al-Mulk's court why he cursed Abū al-Hasan al-Ashʿarī, he replied:

I do not know Abū al-Hasan, but I curse whoever does not firmly hold that Allāh is in the heaven, or that the Qur'ān is in the mushaf, and says that the Prophet ﷺ Allah bless and greet him - today is no longer a prophet!

To hold that Allāh is located in, above, or below the heaven is anthropomorphism; to hold that the mushaf is pre-eternal is indwelling (hulūl); finally, al-Ashʿarī and his School never held that the Prophet ﷺ Allah bless and greet him - today is no longer a Prophet, but the reverse.3

Another work al-Harawī compiled in refutation of Ashʿarīs is al-Fārūq fīl-Sifāt - also known as al-Fārūq fīl-Farq bayn al-Muthbita wal-Muʿattila - in which he states: "Allāh is in the seventh heaven (fī al-samā' al-sābiʿa) over the Throne (ʿalā al-ʿarsh) Himself (bi nafsihi)" and "in () as well as over (ʿalā) the seventh heaven."4

A third work compiled against Ashʿarīs, al-Arbaʿīn fīl-Tawhīd is replete, like the Fārūq, with blatant anthropomorphism and hadīth forgeries. Perhaps the most extreme illustration of anthropomorphism ever authored by a purportedly Sunni authority, it contains about forty chapters, among them:

"Exposition on the Fact that Allāh Most High is Something (shay')"; "Exposition of the Fact that Allāh Most High is a Person (shakhs)"; "Affirmation of the Fact that Allāh Most High has a Limit (hadd)"; "Affirmation of the Fact that Allāh Most High has Sides or Directions (jihāt)"; "Affirmation of the Fact that Allāh Most High has an Image (sūra)";
"Affirmation of His Handwriting (khatt)";
"Affirmation of the Fact that Allāh Most High has Fingers (asābiʿ)"; and - in conclusion -
"The Prohibition of Delving Too Deep into the Divine Attributes"!5

Upon the encouragement of a female relative, Bībī Nāzānīn, al-Harawī al-Ansārī met then became the student of the unlettered Naqshbandī Shaykh, Khwājā Abū al-Hasan al-Kharqānī (d 425).6

He authored several treatises detailing the principles and methods of the Sūfī path. Among them:

Manāzil al-Sā'irīn ilā al-Haqq al-Mubīn, frowned upon by Ibn al-Qayyim, al-Dhahabī, Ibn Rajab, and characterized by their teacher Ibn Taymiyya as "falling into the doctrine of incarnationism (hulūl)"7 and "ending up in literal merging with the Divine (haqīqat al-ittihād),"8 of which Ibn al-Qayyim wrote an expurged version -cum-critical commentary entitled Madārij al-Sālikīn.

Tabaqāt al-Sūfiyya ("Synchronical Layers of the Sūfī Masters"), the expanded version of an earlier work by the - Ashʿarī - Shaykh Abū ʿAbd al-Rahmān al-Sulamī (d 411) bearing the same title.

ʿIlal al-Maqāmāt ("The Pitfalls of Spiritual Stations"), his testament, describing the characteristics of spiritual states for the student and the teacher in the Sūfī path; Ibn Taymiyya in his Minhāj al-Sunna again said that al-Harawī filled it with notions of indwelling and union-with-the-Divine.9

Sād Maydān (in Persian, "The Hundred Fields"), a commentary on the meanings of love in the verse: {If you love Allāh, follow me, and Allāh will love you} (3:31). This book collects al-Harawī's lectures in the years 447-448 at the Great Mosque of Herat (in present-day Afghanistan) in which he presents his most eloquent exposition of the necessity of following the Sūfī path. He is also said to have devoted three hundred and sixty sittings to the commentary of the verse {Lo! those unto whom kindness has gone forth before from Us, they will be far removed from thence [Hellfire]} (21:101).

Kashf al-Asrār wa ʿUddat al-Abrār (in Persian, "The Unveiling of the Secrets and the Harness of the Righteous"), in ten volumes by al-Maybūdī, it contains al-Harawī's Qur'ānic commentary.

Al-Harawī al-Ansārī is documented by al-Dhahabī in his Tārīkh al-Islām and Siyar Aʿlām al-Nubalā', Ibn Rajab in his Dhayl Tabaqāt al-Hanābila,10 and Jāmī in his book in Persian Manāqib-i Shaykh al-Islām Ansārī11 among others.

Main source: Siyar 14:38-48 §4333.


1Ibn al-Subkī, Tabaqāt al-Shāfiʿiyya al-Kubrā (4:272-273).

2As mentioned by Ibn Hajar's student al-Sakhāwī in the introduction to al-Jawāhir wal-Durar.

3See on these notions Shaykh Nuh Keller's article, "Is It Permissible for a Muslim to Believe that Allāh Is in the Sky in a Literal Sense?" at http://www.masud.co.uk/ and Ibn ʿAbd al-Salām's al-Mulha in general, especially the section entitled "Proofs Against Those Who Claim the mushaf is Pre-Eternal". On the attribution to Ashʿarīs of the heretical notion that "the Prophet ﷺ upon him peace - today is no longer a prophet," see our notice on Ibn Fūrāk at livingislam.org/n/shf_e.html.

4As quoted by al-Dhahabī in Mukhtasar al-ʿUluw (p. 278 §339 and p. 151 §150).

5More alarming yet is the characterization of the above as "Salafī doctrine" (al-ʿaqīda al-salafiyya) by al-Harawī's admirer ʿAbd Allāh ibn Muhammad al-Ansārī in his recent 5-volume edition of Dhamm al-Kalām (1:83, 1:86).

6The Naqshbandī chain of masters at the time of al-Kharqānī is as follows: Abū Yazīd al-Bistāmī > Abū al-Hasan al-Kharqānī > Abū ʿAlī al-Farmadī (al-Ghazzālī's teacher) > Abū Yūsuf al-Hamadānī > Abū al-ʿAbbās al-Khidr > ʿAbd al-Khāliq al-Ghujdawānī.

7In his Majmūʿ al-Fatāwā (5:126, 5:230, 14:11, cf. 5:485, 8:317).

8In his Minhāj al-Sunna (1986 ed 5:342).

9As quoted in al-Ghumārī's al-Burhān (p. 52).

10Ibn Rajab, Dhayl Tabaqāt al-Hanābila (1:64-85).

11Edited by A.J. Arberry, "Jami's Biography of Ansārī" in The Islamic Quarterly (July-December 1963) p. 57-82.

Hajj Gibril
GF Haddad
Rabiʿ al-Awwal 1424
[3 May 2003]

Oriental Pattern



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