Ibn Taymiyyah, Leader of The Believers

Written by Adil Salahi
from muslimheritage.com
originally published by Impact magazine.

“You claim to be a Muslim, surrounding yourself with a Judge, a sheikh, and one who calls for prayer. Your father and grandfather, on the other hand, were unbelievers. Yet they did not do the terrible things you have done. They honoured their agreements, while you do not, and you have perpetrated much injustice.” Finishing his words, the speaker looked straight into the face of his addressee, who was none other than Kazan, the Tartar king who was preparing to attack Damascus, realising that it was ripe for him to take, abandoned by all support particularly with Egyptian units withdrawing back to Egypt. With them went most government officials, judges and scholars. Thus, the city became deserted from any political and religious authority. A number of non-Muslims were pleased, and established contact with the invading forces. That gave them the audacity to make their un-Islamic feelings and practices public. Some of them went as far as to pour wine in mosques. Criminals were able to leave prison without fear of being caught, and theft became rampant.

But who in such circumstances could address the fearsome king of the Tartars in this way? None other than Ahmad ibn Taimiyah, one of many scholars in our history who are always mentioned together with, or ahead of, the rulers as the main players to influence events. Ibn Taimiyah’s life was a long series of jihad in its fullest meaning. By contrast, many scholars sought a safe place in Cairo or Damascus when the Tartars were earlier marching through the lands of Islam. His own family had moved to Damascus from North Syria for the same reason when he was only seven years of age. Now, in 699 AH, at the age of 38, Ibn Taimiyah stood firm trying to reverse a trend of weakness that went through the Muslim world. Realising the danger threatening Damascus, he called a meeting attended by the notables of the city who could not flee with the withdrawing forces. The meeting decided to send a delegation to Kazan, the Tartar king, who, like many of his soldiers, had embraced Islam, without really experiencing what this true faith means in practice. He was the fourth Muslim king of the Tartars, and he was renowned as a fierce ruler and a hard hearted invader. When the delegation was admitted into his presence, their chief, Ibn Taimiyah addressed him in the words quoted above.

Kazan was taken aback by the fortitude of the scholar. He decided to serve dinner for the delegation first, but Ibn Taimiyah would not touch any food. To the king’s question about the reason for his abstention, he said: “How could I eat your food when all the meat you serve is from sheep you have stolen from ordinary people, and all your vegetables and fruit have been taken from people’s farms without payment?” Kazan was angry, but he felt in awe of the scholar who, in turn, felt much stronger as he believed that God would support him as long as he was trying to remove oppression. With the discussion progressing in this mood and Ibn Taimiyah showing no hesitation or fear of what might happen to him, Kazan had to give way. He later said to his generals: “I have never seen a more courageous person than this man. His words have touched my heart, and I felt that I had no option but to grant him what he wanted.”

Kazan listened to the requests of Ibn Taimiyah and granted them. That meant that he would not attack Damascus for the present time, although he realised that the people would have time to prepare for the protection of their city. He also agreed to release all Muslims he had taken prisoner. But Ibn Taimiyah insisted that he should also release all prisoners his soldiers had taken, including those who were Christians and Jews. He told him that he would not go back to Damascus unless those prisoners were allowed to come back with him. He confronted him with the Islamic principle that applies to such minorities in Muslim land: “They enjoy the same rights and bear the same responsibilities as we do.” Kazan had no option but to release them.

The city was in peace, but not for long. In the following year, reports were coming through that the Tartars would be coming back. Ibn Taimiyah now took up the role of a military commander, encouraging people to rise up to their duty of jihad. He told them that they could leave their city fleeing the invaders, or they could stand up to them and seek God’s help. People responded to him and were willing to fight. Their morale was boosted when they heard that Sultan al-Nasser Qalawoon of Egypt raised an army to fight the Tartars. But they later heard that he decided to turn back to Egypt. Once more, the people of Damascus were in panic. But they requested Ibn Taimiyah to try to save the situation.

Again Ibn Taimiyah went at the head of a delegation, but his task this time was to meet al-Nasser Qalawoon after his army had been dispersed. He was very strong in his appeal. He said: “If you have given up Syria, we would have chosen a ruler to protect it against its enemies; but why should we when Syria is under your rule. If it was not and its people appealed to you for help against an enemy, you would be duty bound to come to its help. What is your responsibility towards it when you are its ruler, and its people are your subjects?” Ibn Taimiyah continued urging Sultan Qalawoon until he agreed to his request and ordered that an army should move immediately to give help to Syria.

Ibn Taimiyah went back to Damascus at full speed. There he found the people in panic. The Governor and his assistants began to prepare to flee, but his return with the news of the forthcoming help encouraged them. The Tartars also postponed their attack, but the danger was not lifted. In fact, the attack took place in 702, but then they had to face the two armies of Syria and Egypt. Ibn Taimiyah was at the front, armed with sword and shield. The Sultan asked him to join him in the battle, but he apologised, saying: “It is the Prophet’s Sunnah that a man should fight with his own people; and as I am from Damascus, I should stay with the local fighters.”

The battle took place in Ramadan, and Ibn Taimiyah encouraged people not to fast, because the Prophet and his companions did not fast when they met their enemies in Ramadan. Victory was assured for the Muslim army, and Damascus was again safe.

How to Properly Practice Ikhlaas

Reference: Al Fataawaa al Kubraa: 2/272

…and similar to this is an account that is mentioned, that a person came across the statement of the Messenger – صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم:.

“Whoever practices sincerity for Allaah for forty mornings, the springs of wisdom would spring forth from his heart to his tounge.” [1]

So this person practiced sincerity – according to him – for forty mornings, in order to attain wisdom, so he didn’t attain it. He complained to a wise scholar who told him; ‘You did not practice sincerity for [attaining the pleasure of ] Allaah the Exalted, you only practiced sincerity for attaining wisdom.’

Meaning that sincerity to Allaah the Glorified and Exalted, is seeking His Face, if you attain this you would attain wisdom as a consequence, but if attaining wisdom is what is intended to begin with, then sincerity for Allaah the Glorified would not have taken place, the only thing that took place is the notion that you are practicing sincerity for Allaah the Elevated.

Likewise is the statement of the Messenger – صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم:

”No person would practice humility for Allaah except that Allaah would raise him.” [2]

So if someone practices humility in order to be raised by Allaah amongst the people, then he is not practicing humility, because his intent is to be raised and that is contradictory to humility.

The source of this article in a treatise on Ikhlaas by Shaykh Farkoos.
[1] This Hadeeth was declared as inauthentic by al Albaanee in ‘As Silsilah ad Da’eefah’: #38 and ‘Da’eef at Targheeb wat Tarheeb’: #2

[2] Collected by Muslim 12/141.

(Translator: Abu Abdul-Waahid, Nadir Ahmad)


Ibn Taymiyyah’s Influence on Ibn al-Qayyim (part 1)

Shaykh al-Islaam ibn Taymiyyah revived the Salafi school of thought until it became the talk of all the people of Islaam throughout their various lands with the rare talents given to him by Allah and the command he possessed of the various sciences.
All this he did in ibn al-Qayyim’s presence.
He witnessed firsthand this new direction of thought which revolted against blind following, partisanship, Ilm al-kalam, and he gross errors in creed (existing at the time) and brought the ummah back to the way of the pious Predecessors (as-Salaf as-Salih).
It refers every dispute to Allah and the Messenger (saws)

It is inevitable that this would have a great impact on his students; he possessed the determination, the knowledge, and the sharp intellect to lead him to the straight path with the care of his Lord. Therefore, it was not likely that ibn al-Qayyim would turn away from this influence.

He developed a relationship with shaykh al-Islaam starting in very year of his arrival (from Egypt).
He attentively participated in his classes to take from his knowledge.

He accompanied him for sixteen years, all the while reading to him the various sciences. As a result of this lengthy companionship, he had a tremendous influence in the formation of his perspective, the development of his talents, the developments of an ardent desire in him for the understanding of the Book and the Sunnah and referring to Allah and His Messenger (saws) Thus he was the brightest star amongst his pupils and the most famous of tem. Hardly is the teacher, ibn Taymiyyah, ever mentioned except that his student, ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah is mentioned alongside him.

The light of these two notable scholars spread to the corners of the earth because of the vastness of their knowledge, the soundness of their ideology, and their revival of the Call to the Allah’s Straight Path. [1]

[1] ibn al-Qayyim, Hayatutu Wa Atharu (p. 78)

(taken from ‘The Biograophy of Imam ibn al-Qayyim’
by Salahud-Din ‘Ali Abdul-Mawjud
translated by Abdul-Rafi Adewale Imam

Ibn Taymiyyah: The Child Genius

One day, his father and his family asked him to join them on a picnic but he suddenly disappeared, so they had to go out without him. When they came back at the end of the day, they blamed him for not going out with them. He said, pointing to a book in his hand: “You did not benefit anything from your trip, whereas I memorized all this book in your absence.”

He was known for his physiognomy, sharp memory and wittedness which amazed the people of Damascus and made them admire him more and more. Though he was young, his fame reached the neighbouring territories. Once, one of the scholars of Halab visited Damascus. The scholars and dignitaries of the city went to welcome him. He told them: “I heard in other territories of a boy who is quick in memorizing everything. I came here to see him.”

They led the man to the small school where the boy used to go to memorize the Quran. The Halabi scholar sat for a while until the boy passed with a big board in his hand. The scholar called him, so he went to him.

The scholar took the board from him and said to him: “Sit here son, and I’ll relate to you some Prophetic narrations to write.” He dictated for him some, then he asked him to read them.

The boy started reading from the board. Then the Shaykh said to him: “Let me hear it from you.” He then started recounting the narrations from his memory exactly like he was reading them from the board. The scholar told him: “Erase this, son.” He cited more of the Prophet’s narrations and asked him to repeat them. The boy did the same again; he read it from the board and then from his memory. The scholar stood up saying: “Should this boy live long, he will have a great position [become a great scholar]. We’ve never seen anyone like him before.”


Ibn Taymiyyah’s Knowledge of Qur’an

If someone were to recite some verses of the Mighty Qur’an in one of his classes, he would proceed to explain them, and his class would end with this. His class would last for a good portion of the day, and he did not have a designated person to recite for him predetermined
verses that he would prepare for. Rather, any random person who was attending his class would recite what was easy for him, and Ibn Taymiyyah would then explain whatever was recited. He would usually not stop except that those in attendance would know that were it
not for the lack of time, he would have delved into what he was explaining from many, many more angles. However, he would stop in order to allow his listeners to rest.

For example, he delivered a tafsir of “Say, He is Allah, One.’” [1] that took up an entire huge volume. Also, his tafsir of “The Beneficent ascended the Throne.” [2] filled around 35 volumes, and I have been told that he began compiling a tafsir that would have taken up fifty volumes had he completed it.
1. surah al-Ikhlas 1 [112:1]
2. surah Ta Ha verse 5 [20:5]

Taken from ‘The lofty virtues of Ibn Taymiyyah’
By The Imam, the Hafidh Abu Hafs ‘Umar bin ‘Ali al-Bazzar
Translated By Abu Sabaayaa

Fasting and Shortening the Prayer for the Traveler

Shaykhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah was asked  about the traveler in the month of Ramadhan who is fasting and is rebuked for doing so. He is called ignorant, and it is said to him that breaking his fast is better.
And what is the distance required in order to shorten (the prayers)? If the day has begun in which one is to travel does he break his fast? Is the fast broken by those who lease out donkeys for hire, merchants, those who lease out camels, the sailor, and those traveling
by sea? And what is the difference between travelling for an act of obedience and traveling for an act of disobedience?

He Answered:
Praise be to Allah: Breaking the fast for one travelling is permissible according to the agreement of the Muslims, whether one is traveling for Hajj, Jihad, trading etc., or other cases of travels that are not disliked by Allah and His Messenger (salAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam).

They disputed over traveling for an act of disobedience, like one who travels for highway robbery and the like, for which there are two views, and they also disputed over shortening the prayer.

In the case of the journey for which shortening prayer is allowed, breaking the fast is permissible as long as it is later made up according to the agreement of the Imams. Breaking the fast is allowable for the traveler whether he was able to fast or unable to fast,
whether it was easy for him to fast or not. Even if he was traveling in the shade with provisions and a servant, he is allowed to break his fast.

Whoever alleges that breaking the fast is only allowed for one unable to fast, then such a person is to be asked to repent. He either repents, or he is to be killed. Whoever condemns the traveler who breaks his fast is also sought to repent. Whoever says the traveler who breaks his fast commits a sin, he is also sought to repent.

All of these cases contradict the Book of Allah, and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and they contradict the consensus of the Ummah.

It is also the Sunnah for the traveler to pray the four Rak`ah prayer as two Rak`ahs only. Shortening is better than performance of the normal four Rak`ahs of the prayer according to the four Muslim Imams; Malik, Abu Hanifah, Ahmad and Ash Shafi`i in the most correct of his views.

The Ummah did not dispute over the permissibility of breaking fast for the traveler. They disputed over the permissibility of fasting. A group of the predecessors and the successors consider that the one fasting while traveling is like the one breaking his fast while a resident, and that his fast is not rewarded at all and he must make it up. This is
reported from `Abdur-Rahman bin `Awf, Abi Hurayrah, and others among the predecessors. And this is the Madhhab of the Dhahiriyah.

In the Two Sahihs, it is recorded that the Prophet (salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “It is not an act of righteousness to fast while traveling” [Bukhari and Muslim]

But the Madhhab of the four Imams is that it is permissible for the traveler to fast or to break his fast.

As reported in the Two Sahihs on the authority of Anas, may Allah be pleased with him: “We used to travel with the Prophet (salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam); some of us would fast, and some of us would break their fast. Neither the fasting would criticize the one breaking his fast, nor would the one breaking his fast criticize the one fasting.”

Allah, the Almighty said: And whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number (of fasting days missed must be made up) from other days. Allah intends ease for you, and He does not want to make things difficult for you.

It is recorded in the Musnad that the Prophet (salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Indeed, Allah likes that His permission be adopted, just as He hates that acts of disobedience be committed” [Ahmad bin Hanbal]

It is recorded in the Sahih that a man said to the Prophet (salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam): “I am a man that fasts often. Am I allowed to fast while traveling?”

He (salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:
“If you break your fast, this is good. And if you fast, there is no harm.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

In another Hadith he (salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:
“The best among you are those who shorten their prayers and do not fast while traveling.” [Abdur-Razzaq]

As for the distance for shortening the prayer and breaking one’s fast: In accordance with the Madhhab of Malik, Ash Shafi`I and Ahmad, it is a journey of two days on foot or by camels. It is sixteen Farsakhs (approx. three miles each), equal to the distance between
Makkah and Usfan, or Makkah and Jeddah.

Abu Hanifah said it is a journey of three days. A group of the predecessors and the successors said that one is permitted to shorten the prayer and break the fast for traveling for less than two days. This is a strong view since it is confirmed that the Prophet (salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) would perform the prayer at `Arafah, Muzdalifah, and
Mina in shortened fashion. Behind him were the inhabitants of Makkah and others following him. He did not command any of them to complete the prayer.

If one travels during a day, it is permissible for him to break his fast? There are two wellknown sayings of the scholars of Fiqh, both of which are reported via two narrations from Ahmad.

The Most apparent one of them is that it is allowed. As confirmed in the Sunan that some of them companions used to break his fast if they initiated their journey during the day, and they mentioned that it was a Sunnah of the Prophet (salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam).

It is confirmed in the Sahih that the Prophet intended to travel while fasting, then he asked for a water container and broke his fast while the people were watching him. [Bukhari and Muslim]

As for the second day (of the travel), undoubtedly, one breaks his fast, even if his journey is only for two days, according to the majority of the Imams and the Ummah.

But if the traveler returns during the second day, the scholars of Fiqh have different wellknown views about the obligation of breaking his fast. But he has to make it up whether he breaks his fast or not.

Those who regularly travels, breaks his fast when he has a place to resort to. Like the trader who imports food and other commodities, the one who hires out his mounts, the

courier who travels for the Muslim interests and the like. The sailor who has a place on the land where he lives, they all have the same ruling.

As for the one who has his household with him on the ship and permanently travels, he is not permitted either to shorten the prayer nor to break his fast.

The dwellers of the desert, like the Bedouin Arabs, the Kurds, the Turks who spend winter in one place and spend summer in another place – while they are traveling from their winter residence to their summer residence they shorten prayers. When they reach
their winter or summer residences they are not permitted to shorten their prayers nor to break their fast, even if they were moving from one location to another in search of pastures.

And Allah knows best.

(taken from ‘The Nature of Fasting’ published by Darussalam)

The Reason Al-‘Aqidah Al-Wasitiyah Was Written

Ibn Taimiyah said:

“A Shafi’ite judge from Wasit (in Iraq) whose name is Radiy ad-Din al-Wasiti, visited me on his way to Hajj (pilgrimage). This Sheikh was a man of goodness and faith. He complained to me of the people’s situation in that country (i.e., Iraq ) under the Tatars (Mongols) rule of ignorance, injustice, and loss of faith and knowledge.

He asked me to write him an ‘Aqeedah (creed) as a reference to him and his family. But I declined saying: Many creeds have been written. Refer to the scholars of the Sunnah. However, he persisted in his request, saying: I do not want any creed but one you write. So I wrote this one for him while I was sitting one afternoon.

(Majmu’ Fatawa Ibn Taimiyah, VIII, p.164)