by Sh. G. F. Haddad

If-on-the-path-tow-Allah-run-Imam-Shafii Ibn Fūrāk, Muh.ammad ibn al-H.asan ibn Fūrāk, Abū Bakr al-As.bahānī al-Shāfiʿī (d. 406), the Imām and foremost specialist of kalām and us.ūl, transmitter of al-Ashʿarī's school, specialist of Arabic language, grammar and poetry, orator, jurist, and h.adīth scholar. He studied doctrine under al-Ashʿarī's companion, Abū al-H.asan al-Bāhilī, and Abū ʿUthmān al-Maghribī who stipulated, before his death, that Ibn Fūrāk lead the funeral prayer over him.
Ibn Fūrāk taught al-Qushayrī and al-Bayhaqī who cite him frequently in al-Risāla and al-Asmā' wa al-S.ifāt respectively. He fought and defeated the anthropomorphist Karrāmiyya in Rayy then went to Naysabūr where he trained generations of fuqahā' at a school founded for him, an expansion of Abū al-H.asan al-Bushanji's earlier S.ūfī school (khānqah). He brought to Naysabūr the transmissions of the narrators of Bas.ra and Baghdād and authored numerous books in various disciplines.

ʿAbd al-Ghaffār ibn Ismāʿīl said: "Ibn Fūrāk's works in us.ūl al-dīn, us.ūl al-fiqh, and the meanings of the Qur'ān count nearly one hundred volumes." Among them: Mujarrad Maqālāt al-Ashʿarī and Mushkal al-H.adīth wa Bayanuh, in which he refuted both the anthropomorphist tendencies of H.anbalī literalists and the over-interpretation of the Muʿtazila.
Ibn Fūrāk said that he embarked on the study of kalām because of the h.adīth reported from the Prophet ﷺ: "The Black Stone is the right hand of Allāh Most High"1 which a mutakallim explained to his satisfaction in contrast to the fuqahā'.

Upon returning from Ghazna after the failure of the Karrāmiyya to have him executed by the Sultan - after the latter questioned him then exonerated him of the charges they had brought against him - he fell on the road, poisoned. He was carried back to Naysabūr and buried in al-Hira. Ibn ʿAsākir relates that his grave is a place of visitation where one seeks healing (istishfā') and one's prayer is answered.
Abū ʿAlī al-Daqqāq was heard supplicating on behalf of a number of a people and was asked: "Why do you not supplicate on behalf of Ibn Fūrāk?" He replied: "How can I supplicate on his behalf when only yesterday I implored Allāh to cure me for the sake of Ibn Fūrāk!"

Al-Dhahabī in his cursory notice on Ibn Fūrāk mentioned spurious derogatory reports from Ibn H.azm - without questioning nor commenting them in the least - whereby Ibn Fūrāk said that the Prophet ﷺ is no longer a Prophet after his death and other things which entail disbelief then stated: "But Ibn Fūrāk was better than Ibn H.azm, of greater stature, and better belief."2
Ibn al-Subkī showed that these were anti-Ashʿarī fabrications falsely attributed to Ibn Fūrāk, al-Ashʿarī, and his companions and declared false by al-Qushayrī and Ibn al-S.alāh..3
Ibn al-Subkī further relates that Ibn Fūrāk considered a disbeliever whoever said that the Prophet ﷺ is no longer a Prophet.

Furthermore Ibn Fūrāk said: "The Ashʿarī doctrine is that our Prophet ﷺ is alive in his grave and is the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ forever until the end of time, literally, not metaphorically, and that he was a Prophet when Adam was between water and clay, and his prophethood remains until now, and shall ever remain."4
Finally, Ibn al-Subkī took al-Dhahabī to task for his ambiguity: "As for his declaring that Ibn Fūrāk was better than Ibn H.azm, it is a matter for Allāh Most High, and we ask our Shaykh: If Ibn Fūrāk truly said this, then there is no good in him at all; and if he did not, then why did you not clarify it lest someone be misled by this report?!"

The martyred Imām Abū al-H.ajjāj Yūsuf ibn Dūnas al-Findalawī al-Mālikī mentioned that Ibn Fūrāk never slept in a house that contained a volume of the Qur'ān, but would go and sleep somewhere else out of respect. Among his sayings:

* "Every instance in which you see scholarly endeavor but upon which there is no light: know that it is a hidden innovation (bidʿa khafiyya)." Ibn al-Subkī said: "This is truly well-said and shows the great refinement of the Teacher. Its foundation is the saying of the Prophet ﷺ: ʿVirtue is what sets the soul at rest."5

* "It is impermissible for the walī to know that he is a walī because it annuls his fear and imposes self-security upon him." Abū ʿAlī al-Daqqāq considered it permissible. Al-Qushayrī said: "And this is what we prefer, and choose, and declare." Ibn al-Subkī said: "Abū al-Qāsim is right without the shadow of a doubt, for knowledge of one's wilāya does not do away with one's fear of Allāh, nor knowledge of one's Prophethood. Indeed, Prophets are the most fearful of Allāh of all people, yet they know that they are Prophets.
And the walī does not cease to fear the design of Allāh as long as he lives, and this is the greatest proof of fear. ʿUmar said: 'If one of my feet were inside Paradise and the other still outside, I would not feel secure from the design of Allāh Most High.'"6

The Prophet ﷺ described the "friends of Allāh" (awliyā') as "Those who, when you see them, remind you of Allāh"7
while ʿAlī ( exclaimed: "Ah! how one yearns to see them!"8
Al-Qushayrī defined the walī as "One whose obedience attains permanence without the interference of sin; or one whom Allāh Most High preserves and guards, in permanent fashion, from the failures of sin through the power of acts of obedience: {He befriends the righteous} (7:196)."9
Their position in relation to Allāh on the Day of Judgment is described as an object of desire for the Prophets in the authentic narrations. One h.adīth qudsī states:
"Those who love one another for the sake of My Majesty shall have pulpits of light and the Prophets and martyrs shall yearn to be in their position."10
Another narration states:
"Truly Allāh has servants whom He shall seat on pulpits of light, and their faces shall completely overcome the fire of hell until the judgment of creatures is concluded."11
The following are longer versions of the same h.adīth as narrated respectively by Abū Hurayra and Abū Mālik al-Ashʿarī:

[Abū Hurayra:] The Prophet ﷺ said: "Truly there are servants, among the servants of Allāh, that are not Prophets but whom the Prophets and martyrs yearn to be like." Someone asked: "Who are they so that we may love them?" He said: "They are a folk who loved one another with the light of Allāh, without kinship nor affiliation. Their faces are light on pulpits of light. They shall not fear when all people fear, nor shall they grieve when all people grieve." Then he recited: {The Friends of Allāh! Truly no fear shall there be for them, nor shall they grieve} (10:62).

[Abū Mālik:] When the Prophet ﷺ finished his prayer he turned facing the people and said: "O people! Listen to this, understand it, and know it. Allāh has servants who are neither Prophets nor martyrs and whom the Prophets and martyrs yearn to be like, due to their seat and proximity in relation to Allāh.
" One of the Bedouin Arabs who came from among the most isolated of people twisted his hand at the Prophet ﷺ and said: "O Messenger of Allāh! People from humankind who are neither Prophets nor martyrs and yet the Prophets and the martyrs yearn to be like them due to their seat and proximity in relation to Allāh? Describe them for us!" The face of the Prophet ﷺ showed delight at the question and he said:
"They are of the strangers from here and there. They frequent this tribe or that without belonging to any of them. They do not have family connections with each other. They love one another for the sake of Allāh. They are of pure intent towards one another. On the Day of Resurrection Allāh shall place for them pedestals of light upon which He shall seat them, and He will turn their faces and clothes into light. On the Day of Resurrection the people will be terrified but not those. They are {the Friends of Allāh upon whom fear comes not, nor do they grieve} (10:62)."12


1 Narrated from Ibn ʿAbbās, Jābir, Anas, and others by Ibn Abī ʿUmar al-Maʿdanī in his Musnad, al-T.abarānī, al-Suyūt.ī in his Jāmiʿ al-Saghīr (1:516 #3804-3805), Ibn ʿAsākir in Tārīkh Dimashq (15:90- 92), al-Khat.īb in Tārīkh Baghdād (6:328), and others. It is considered forged by Ibn al-Jawzī and Ibn ʿAdī (al-Kāmil 1:342). Cf. al-Ah.dab, Zawā'id Tārīkh Baghdād (5:321-323 #949). However, al-ʿAjlūnī stated that it is s.ah.īh. as a halted report from Ibn ʿAbbās as narrated by al-Qud.āʿī with the wording: "The Corner [of the Black Stone] (al-rukn) is the Right Hand of Allāh on earth...," and declared it h.asan as a h.adīth of the Prophet ﷺ
Ibn Qutayba in Ta'wīl Mukhtalif al-H.adīth (1972 ed. p. 215=1995 ed. p. 198, 262) said that it was a saying of Ibn ʿAbbās and relates a saying of ʿA'isha that the Black Stone is the depository of the covenant of human souls with Allāh ( on the Day of Promise (alastu bi rabbikum). Its mention in the Reliance of the Traveller (p. 853b) as "narrated by al-H.ākim, who declared it s.ah.īh., from ʿAbd Allāh ibn ʿAmr," is incorrect. Note: An authentic narration states that the Black Stone shall appear with two eyes and a tongue on the Day of Resurrection. Narrated by al-Tirmidhī, Ibn Mājh, Ah.mad, al-Dārimī, Ibn H.ibbān (#3711-3712), and others.

2 He claims that Ibn Fūrāk said of the Prophet ﷺ: "He was the Prophet of Allāh, but today no longer is" and he cites Ibn H.azm's claim that Ibn Fūrāk said something even more derogatory. Siyar (13:131). Ibn H.azm is known for his rabid enmity to Ashʿarīs, and he is the model of those who attack Ashʿarīs in later times as Ibn Taymiyya and some of his modern epigones.

3 T.abaqāt al-Shāfiʿiyya al-Kubrā (3:384-385; 3:399-423; 4:131-132; 4:406-416). "As for what is alleged whereby al-Ashʿarī and his companions said that Muh.ammad ﷺ is no longer a Prophet in his grave nor a Messenger after his death: this is a great calumny and a crass lie. None of them ever said anything of the kind; nor was it heard from them in any debate; nor is it found in any of their books. And how can such a thing be correctly related from them when their position is that the Prophet ﷺ is alive in his grave?" Al-Qushayrī, Shikāyat Ahl al-Sunna in Ibn al-Subkī, T.abaqāt al-Shāfiʿiyya al-Kubrā (3:406, cf. 3:384).

4 T.abaqāt al-Shāfiʿiyya al-Kubrā (4:131-132).

5 Narrated from Abū Thaʿlaba al-Khushanī by Ah.mad with a sound chain as stated by al-Haythamī (1:175) and Ah.mad Shākir in the Musnad (13:479 #17671), and from Wābis.a ibn Maʿbad al-Asadī by Ah.mad and al-Dārimī.

6 Tabyīn (p. 230-231); Siyar (13:130-131 #3739); T.abaqāt al-Shāfiʿiyya al-Kubrā (4:127-135 #317).

7 H.adīth (h.asan) of the Prophet ﷺ in response to the question: "Who are the awliyā of Allāh?" and - in some narrations - the question: "Who should we sit with?" Narrated from Ibn ʿAbbās by al-Nasā'ī in al-Sunan al-Kubrā (6:362), Ibn al-Mundhir, Abū al-Shaykh, Ibn Mubārak, al-Bazzār in his Musnad (#3626, cf. Ibn H.ajar's Mukhtas.ar 2:394-395 #2083 and al-Haythamī's Majmaʿ al-Zawā'id 10:78), al-T.abarī in his Tafsīr (11:131), Ibn Abī H.ātim, al-ʿAskarī, al-T.abarānī in al-Kabīr (#12325), Ibn al-Mubārak in al-Zuhd (#218), Abū Nuʿaym in Akhbār As.bahān (1:231), and Ibn Mardūyah; from Ibn ʿAbbās, ʿAbd Allāh ibn ʿAmr, and Anas ibn Mālik by al-H.akīm al-Tirmidhī in Nawādir al-Us.ūl (p. 140, cf. p. 158 "The conditions of wilāya and p. 204-209 "
Profile of the awliyā'"); from Ibn Masʿūd by al-T.abarī in his Tafsīr (11:131) and al-T.abarānī with a chain of trustworthy narrators but for one unknown per al-Haythamī (10:78); from Abū Mālik al-Ashʿarī by al-Kharā'it.ī in Masāwi' al-Akhlāq (#233); mursal from the Tābiʿī Saʿīd ibn Jubayr by Ibn al-Mubārak in al-Zuhd (#218), Ibn Abī Shayba, al-T.abarī in his Tafsīr (11:131-132), Abū al-Shaykh, al-Dūlābī
in al-Kunā (1:106), Abū Nuʿaym in the H.ilya (1985 ed. 1:6) and Ibn Mardūyah; mursal from the Tābiʿī ʿAbd al-Rah.mān ibn Ghanam al-Ashʿarī by Imām Ah.mad in his Musnad (al-Zayn ed. 14:31 #17921: isnād h.asan; al-Arna'ūt. ed. 29:521-523 h.asan bi shawāhidih) cf. al-Haythamī (8:93) and al-Mundhirī in al-Targhīb (=3:499); and from Ibn ʿAbbās mawqūf by T.abarānī, Abū al-Shaykh, Ibn Mardūyah, and al-D.iyā' al-Maqdisī in al-Mukhtāra. Also narrated with the wording: "The best among you are those who, when they are seen, Allāh is remembered" from Asmā' bint Yazīd by Ah.mad, al-Bayhaqī in Shuʿab al-Imān (7:494), Abū Nuʿaym in the H.ilya, Ibn Mardūyah, Musaddad, Ibn Abī Shayba, ʿAbd al-Razzāq, ʿAbd ibn H.āmid, Abū Yaʿlā al-Maws.ilī, and Ibn Mājah with a fair (h.asan) chain as stated by al-Būs.īrī in Mis.bāh. al-Zujāja (4:215); from Ibn ʿUmar by al-Bayhaqī in Shuʿab al-Imān (5:297 #6708 with a weak chain because of Ibn Lahīʿa and a missing Tābiʿī link); and from ʿUbada ibn al-Samit with a very weak chain because of Yazīd ibn Rabīʿa by al-Bazzār in his Musnad (#2719) and by al-T.abarānī as stated by al-Haythamī (8:93). Ibn H.ajar in his Mukhtas.ar (2:395) considers it a saying of the Tabiʿī Tawus ibn Kaysan.

See also al-ʿAjlūnī's Kashf al-Khafā (#3626). More explicit yet is the h.adīth of the Prophet ﷺ narrated by al-T.abarānī with a chain of trustworthy narrators according to al-Haythamī in the Majmaʿ (10:78): "{The Friends of Allāh! Truly no fear shall there be for them, nor shall they grieve} (10:62). Allāh is remembered through their remembrance (dhikr) [or: ʿthrough remembrance of them']" (yudhkaru Allāhu bi dhikrihim). Cf. Fayd. (#2885, #3976) and corresponding commentary in al-Ghumārī's al-Mudāwī.

8 Narrated by Ibn al-Jawzī in S.ifat al-S.afwa 2(4):10 (#570) and 1(2):203 (#254) and Abū Nuʿaym, H.ilyat al-Awliyā' (6:155) and in the chapter titled "Abū Hāshim."

9 Al-Qushayrī as cited in Ibn ʿAbidīn, Rasā'il (2:277).

10 Narrated from Muʿādh and ʿUbada ibn al-S.āmit. by al-Tirmidhī who graded it h.asan s.ah.īh. and Ibn H.ibbān (2:338 #577), Ah.mad in the Musnad and his son ʿAbd Allāh in Zawā'id al-Musnad (5:328), al-T.abarānī in al-Kabīr (20:167-168), and Abū Nuʿaym in the H.ilya (1985 ed. 2:131), all with a good chain according to al-Arna'ūt. in Ibn H.ibbān. One of ʿUbada's versions replaces the Martyrs with the S.iddīqūn.

11 Narrated from Abū Umāma by al-T.abarānī [in Musnad al-Shāmiyyīn (2:10)] with a good chain according to al-Haythamī (10:277).

12 Narrated from Abū Hurayra by Ibn H.ibbān (2:332-334 #573) with a sound chain according to Shaykh Shuʿayb al-Arna'ūt., and al-Nasā'ī in al-Sunan al-Kubrā (6:362 #11153), al-T.abarī in his Tafsīr (11:132), and al-Mundhirī in al-Targhīb (=4:20); from Abū Mālik al-Ashʿarī by Ah.mad, al-T.abarānī, and Abū Yaʿlā with a chain of trustworthy narrators [except for Shahr ibn H.awshab who is mostly reliable]; also by al-Baghawī
in Sharh. al-Sunna (13:50 #3464) and al-T.abarī in his Tafsīr (11:132)]; from Abū al-Dardā' by al-T.abarānī with a fair chain according to al-Mundhirī]; and from ʿAmr ibn ʿAbasa al-Sulamī with a chain of narrators considered trustworthy,
all three gradings according to al-Haythamī (10:276-277, 10:77); from ʿUmar by Abū Dāwūd with a chain of sound narrators, Abū Nuʿaym in the H.ilya (1985 ed. 1:5) with a good chain as per al-Arna'ūt., and al-T.abarī in his Tafsīr (11:132); from Ibn ʿUmar by al-H.ākim (4:170-171 s.ah.īh., confirmed by al-Dhahabī); and from Abū Umāma by al-T.abarānī with a good chain according to al-Mundhirī (=4:20) and al-Haytamī (10:277); also by Ibn ʿAsākir, Ibn Abī al-Dunyā in Kitāb al-Ikhwan, Ibn Abī H.ātim, and Ibn Mardūyah.

Hajj Gibril

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latest update: 2015-09-02


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