(Ibn Taymiyyah’s Letter to his Mother, in which he apologises for his stay in Egypt. A stay he felt was necessary to educate the people.)
In the name of Allaah, Most Merciful, Dispenser of Mercy
From Ahmad bin Taymiyyah to my dear and honourable Mother, may Allaah bless her amply, and grant her peace and comfort, and make her amongst the
best of His servants,
Assalamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakatuh.
We praise Allaah, the most worthy of praise. There is no deity worthy of worship but He, and He has Power over all things. We ask Him to bless the Seal of the Prophets and Imaam of the pious, Muhammad His servant and Messenger (salallaahu alayhi wa salam).
Indeed the bounties of Allaah come abundantly, and His aid is never ending. We praise Him for it, and ask Him to increase His favour. It will not escape you, my contented mother, the fact that our stay in Egypt is for an important issue. The abandonment of such a task leads to the corruption of our Deen and of our life.
Yet it was not our choice to be far from you. Had birds been able to carry us, we would have come to you. But the absent one has his reason; and had you been able to look deeply into the affairs of the Muslims, you would not choose for me another place to the one I am in now. Nevertheless, I had never intended to reside here permanently. Instead, I pray to Allaah to guide you and I to the right choice, and I pray for your well-being. I ask Allaah to bless us and the rest of the Muslims, with His goodness and what that goodness
encompasses of safety and benefit.
Allaah had opened for me His gates of blessings, mercy and guidance in a way I have never conceived of before. Yet I am always considering travel towards you, making the prayers of Istikhaarah. It is inconceivable for me, if given the choice, to favour any of this life’s mundane issues or of the lesser obligations of the Deen, to being close to you. Yet there are great issues which l cannot abandon for fear of their general and personal dangers (1) – and the witness sees what the absent does not.
I beseech you to supplicate to Allaah profusely. Ask Him to guide us to choose our best paths, for He Knows and we do not, and He is able and we are weak.
The Messenger of Allaah (salallaahu alayhi wa salam) said:
It is from the happiness of the son of Aadam to practice lstikhaarah and be pleased wîth what Allaah had ordained for him. And it is from the misery of the son of Aadam to drop the Istikhaarah of Allaah and be displeased at Allaah’s decrees. (2)
Indeed, the travelling trader might fear the loss of his money, so he resides at a place until he is able to travel once again. The matter that we are in the middle of is too great to describe, but there is no power or ability but through Allaah.
Finally, convey my salaam to the entire household, young and old, and the rest of neighbours, friends and relatives one by one.
Wasalamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakatuh!
Praise be to Allaah, and may His Blessings and Peace be upon Muhammad, his
family and companions.
1. Shaykh Muhammad Aboo Zahrah comments on his book Ibn Taymiyyah: the general danger is the corruption of people. The personal one is that as a Scholar, he has to fulfil his obligation of guiding the people to the right way.
There is also another danger which, is that Ibn Taymeeyah came to Egypt whilst accused in his belief, and that he has a right to defend and vindicate himself.
2. Shaykh Hamed al-Faqi commented of this hadeeth by saying that it was
related by at-Tirmithee and he called it hasan ghareeb; and it was also narrated by Ahmad, Aboo Ya’laa and al-Haakim who said of it: Saheeh allsnad. (al-‘Uqood ud-Durreeyah, p257)