Why Ibn Taymiyyah Focused on Principles of Islam

Source: The Lofty Virtues of Ibn Taymiyyah by Imam Abu Hafs Umar bin Ali al-Bazzar p. 13-15

Ibn Taymiyyah (may Allah be Pleased with him) wrote a lot about the principles of Islam as opposed to the branches of it. I asked him about this, and requested that he write a Fiqh book compiling all of his chosen and preferred opinions to be a main reference for issuing verdicts. So, he said:

“The branches of the Religion are easy to understand, and it is allowed for whoever follows one of the scholars to simply act on his fatwa as long as there is nothing to make him believe the fatwa to be incorrect. As for the principles, I see the people of innovation and misguidance – the philosophers, the Batinis, the heretics, those who believe that Allah is everywhere, the Dahris, the Qadaris, the Nusayris, the Jahmis, the deniers of Allah’s Names and Attributes, those who say He has a physical body, the Mushabbihah, Rawindis, the Kullabis, the Sulaymis, and other innovated groups – creating a crisis with their misguidance, and it is clear to me that their intent in this is to destroy the holy Shari’ah of Muhammad which dominates over all religions, and that most of them dragged the people into doubts regarding the principles of the Religion. Because of this, I rarely see someone turning away from the Qur’an and Sunnah and going for their opinions except that he becomes a heretic, and falls into doubt of his own religion and beliefs.

When I saw all of this, it became clear to me that whoever is able to repel their doubts and fabrications is to focus all of his efforts in exposing them and responding to their false beliefs in defense of the pure Religion and lofty, authentic Sunnah, and I never saw anyone write regarding this subject who claimed himself to be knowledgeable except that he actually helped demolish the foundations of Islam with his words. This is because of their aversion to the clear truth, their turning away from what the noble Messengers brought from the Lord of the worlds, and their following the path of the philosophers in using their terminology and referring to them as ‘wisdoms and logic,’ while they are in reality ‘stupidity and misguidance.’ They stick with this and turn away from everything else until it completely takes over their intellects, and it confuses them until they are no longer able to distinguish between truth and falsehood. Allah is too generous with His slaves to not provide them with minds that accept the truth and reject falsehood. However, lack of guidance and abundance of desires cause one to fall into misguidance.

Allah – the Exalted – made the intellect to be a scale for the slave to filter out falsehood from truth, and He did not send the Messengers except to those with intellect, and none are tasked with any obligations except those with intellect and logic, such that he stops and says: ‘This contradicts what the noble Messengers conveyed from Allah. This is falsehood that anyone with intellect sees,’ and whoever is not granted light from Allah will have no light.

So, this is why I focused all of my attention to writing about the principles of the Religion, and this is what caused me to collect all of their statements and reply to them with what Allah has blessed me of textual and logical arguments.”

I say that in everything he has written, he clarified the truth from falsehood, and Allah helped him to respond to their innovations, misguided opinions, deceptions, and desires with textual proofs and in a logical manner. He did this to the point that he answered each and every doubt of theirs with such clarity that anyone with a sound mind would understand and agree to his correctness. So, praise be to Allah who blessed us with the chance to see and befriend him, as Allah has made him a proof upon the people of his era, most of whom were busy with the worldly pleasures in exclusion to the matters of the Hereafter, and there is no might nor power except with Allah. However, Allah – the Mighty and Powerful – guaranteed the preservation of this Religion until the end of time, and made it dominate over all other religions. So, praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds.

Definitions:

Batinis: A group that emerged in the 3rd century during the era of al-Ma’mun. They believed that the Qur’an was merely a commentary from the Prophet (peace be upon him), that it has hidden meanings that are known only to a few, and that homosexuality and incest are permissible. Those who inherited their beliefs include the Qaramitah and Isma’iliyyah in earlier times, and the Qadiyanis and Baha’is in later times. They caused great harm to the Muslims until they were wiped out by the ‘Abbasid leader al-Muktafi in 300 H. See ‘al-Farq Bayn al-Firaq’ (p.
382).

Dahris: A group who believe that there is no afterlife, and that the cycle of existence repeats every 36,000 years, and they say that nothing can destroy them except time (ad-dahr). See Ibn Kathir’s ‘Tafsir al-Qur’an al-‘Adhim’ (4/190).

Qadaris: The ones who claim that the slave creates his own actions, and that Allah has no control over the Creation. The first who called to this was Ma’bad al-Juhani, and it was also said that it was Ghaylan ad-Dimashqi or Sawsan an-Nasrani. This innovation first emerged in the later part of the first century, and some of the Qadaris denied Allah’s Knowledge of events before their occurrence. However, they have died out, as an-Nawawi said. See al-Lalika’i’s ‘Sharh Usul al-I’tiqad’ (1/23 and 3/534 onwards) and ‘Sharh Sahih Muslim’ (1/153-154).

Nusayris: The followers of Muhammad bin Nusayr al-Basri, a slave of Bani Numayr who was originally from Persia. The sect was founded in the third century. They prefer to be called ‘Alawis, attributing themselves to ‘Ali bin Abi Talib. This name was given to them by the French during the time of their colonial occupation of Syria in 1920 to hide the sect from the other Muslims who declared them disbelievers. They believe that ‘Ali was the incarnation of Allah, that the Islamic texts have a hidden meaning, and in reincarnation. They were declared to be disbelievers by Ibn Taymiyyah in ‘Majmu’ al-Fatawa’ (35/149), Ibn al-Qayyim in ‘Ighathat al-Lahfan’ (2/247-249), Ibn Hazm in ‘al-Muhalla’ (13/139), ad-Daylami in ‘Bayan Madhhab al-Batiniyyah wa Butlalanuh’ (p. 71), and al-Ghazzali in ‘Fada’ih al-Batiniyyah’ (p. 37).

Jahmis: The followers of Jahm bin Safwan Abi Muhriz as-Samarqandi at-Tirmidhi, who was killed 128 H. He took his innovated beliefs of denying Allah’s Attributes from al-Ja’d bin Dirham and added to it the belief that Allah compels the slaves in their actions, that faith is simply knowledge, and that Paradise and Hell are not eternal. They are further divided into eight sects. See ‘Sharh Usul al-I’tiqad’ (1/30-31).

Mushabbihah: Those who go to extremes in confirming Allah’s Attributes, to the point that they liken Him to His Creation, and they are from the extreme Shi’ah. Those who were famous for this were Dawud al-Jawarbi and Hisham bin al-Hakam the Rafidi. Some of the innovators accuse Ahl as-Sunnah of being Mushabbahah, and they are free from this. See ash-Shahrastani’s ‘al-Milal wan-Nihal’ (1/103 onwards) and al-Ash’ari’s ‘Maqalat al-Islamiyyin’ (p. 221, 491, 518, 521, and 564).

Rawindis: The followers of al-Qasim bin Rawand. They believe that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had appointed al- ‘Abbas bin ‘Abd al-Muttalib as his successor, and that the Muslims all apostated from Islam by preventing al-‘Abbas from becoming the leader. They further believe that the right of leadership belongs only to those descended from al-‘Abbas, and that the Mahdi will be from his family.

Kullabis: They were the followers of ‘Abdullah bin Sa’id bin Kullab al-Qattan al-Misri, one of the philosophers who lived during the time of al-Ma’mun, and died in 240 H. He would affirm for Allah the seven Attributes of Knowledge, Power, Will, Life, Hearing, Sight, and Speech based on logic, and would deny the rest. One of his followers was Abu al-Hasan al-Ash’ari, who later abandoned these beliefs for those of Ahmad bin Hambal, while the current day Ash’aris resemble the Kullabis of old. See ‘Lisan al-Mizan’ (3/290).

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